I have translated the part of the book from a late Milorad Bibić, beloved Croatian journalist that was very close to athletes, particularly the ones from the city of Split (Goran Ivanišević, Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa...)
He wrote a book "My Seagull" about Dino Rađa's basketball career and here is the part where he writes about Dino's first try to play for the Celts.
I have put my comments in parentheses.
"In that year Boston Celtics drafted me, I immediately wanted to go there. My father and mother told me not to go, my friend Vinko Bajrović - Capo advised me to wait, only my friend Milorad Bibic Mosor (the author, local sports journalist) said, "Go, since they want you! Who is crazy to reject a call from Boston Celtics, the most fabled team in NBA history! "No matter who to say and advise me, I've already decided to leave.
I arrived in Boston in the middle of the summer and started off with intense workouts. Every day - twice a day training. Gym, athletic track, then basketball parquet. Four to five hours a day. Every day of the week except Sunday. In total, five weeks of such training. I felt fantastic, I connected with people from the Celtic organization. As a 22-year-old European, I was even introduced at the sold-out baseball stadium in Boston. I waited for the October 6th, when the Boston Celtics team's presentation was to announce the squad for the 1989/90 season. But…
When I left Split, they told me at Gripe (Jugoplastikas Arena, Split, Croatia) that I was contracted by the 'Yellows' (Jugoplastikas color), that I can't go to the NBA. Boston argued differently - that there is no obstacle for me to play in the new NBA season! That was what General Manager Jan Volk told me and at that moment I got the official license from the NBA Office to play for Boston Celtics, I thought everything was fine. Since I contacted my friends form Split on a daily basis, I found out that Jugoplastika had gone down, sued me, and hired two US attorneys. In the midst of all of this, the worst thing for me was the fact that I was just viewed as a fugitive, a traitor. At the same time, Drazen Petrovic went to Portland Trail Blazers, Vlade Divac went to Los Angeles Lakers and Zarko Paspalj to San Antonio Spurs. They were all sports heroes, and I - almost a traitor! No one, just about anyone from Split contacted me officially. They threatened through the press, talking about their "big win" that would happen in the court of law. By that, I don't mean head coach Božo Maljkovic (a true coaching legend from Serbia, that was young back then) and teammates, they contacted me regularly, and also I was sometimes called by the Chairman of the Expert Commission Branko Macura.
One day from the club I was called by General Manager Jan Volk who surprised me by saying, 'Dino, you are a six-million-dollars player !' I did not know what he meant. Then he showed me the Jugoplastikas buyout request for Celtics at six million dollars. Of course, they did not agree and all ended up in Boston court. "The Rađa File ", about a hundred pages, was found at the Federal Court in Boston and federal judge Douglas Woodlock had to make his decision by the September 21. Meanwhile, my father and mother arrived in Boston, the Celtics invited them as guests.
That day, my mother stayed home, my dad and I went to the courtroom. Miguel Douglas Woodlock has said 'Dino Rađa cannot play for Boston Celtics since the NBA club from Boston has illegally entered into a valid contract on Jugoplastika-Dino Rađa!' At the same moment, I said, 'I will not pause the season!' I did not listen fully to the explanation of federal Judge, my question was: 'What do you do?' General Manager Jan Volk came to me and said to me, 'The court of the second instance will certainly cancel this decision, stay in Boston!' I did not respond. That same evening HC Božidar Maljkovic called me and told me that he could hardly wait for me to get back to basketball home. From that moment on, and the next week, the negotiations between the Jugoplastika-Boston Celtics were ongoing. On the third of October, Jan Volk told me: 'Your parent club and we finally agreed. Go back to Split, play there this season, and you are official after June 1st, 1990! "The Boston Celtics paid Jugoplastica a very large compensation, and I returned to Split. I experienced the ovations in the first match I played for 'Yellows', against Zagreb at home. You probably know already: next year I did not go to Boston Celtics, but to Roman Il Messaggero. The big, actually the biggest basketball dream had come to fruition at the 1993/94 season in the Boston Celtics squad when I played my 1st NBA game. Finally!"
Dino agreed with the Jugoplastikas officials to leave Split after the end of that 1989/90 season. And it was like that. And not only did he leave, Duško Ivanovic and Goran Sobin also left the club (important players). In the 1990/91 season, the Jugoplastika, now POP 84 (sponsorship) sensationally won the Jugo title (4th in a row) and Jugo cup (2 in a row) and the title of the European champion for the third consecutive time.
Rađa played in Rome for three seasons, and he was the most expensive basketball player in Europe. He had a contract whose value was three times higher than the most expensive contract of a basketball player in Italy. The newspaper report from our newspaper from that time says that Rađa signed a five-year contract with the Roman club worth nearly 18 billion lire, in dollars about 15 million $. He had a larger annual salary than Diego Maradona (the Maradona, "hand of God", the most talented footballplayer of his time in the best/richest football league at the time - Serie A) in the Napoli soccer club. In three seasons in Rome, Rađa won only one trophy: the Radivoj Korać Cup in 1992 (the 3rd best Euro international competition at the time). The bad teamwork in the club and the poor selection of players did theirs. In the third season of Rađa's stay in Rome, the club was almost at the breakdown, they barely stayed in the league, and there were also financial difficulties. Rađa had two more years of the contract, but was offered a break and said he would go to Celtics. The club leaders accepted it.
"I would have gone nuts if I did the whole five-year deal with the Romans. My trip to Rome was really wonderful, but I could not play in a team that had no ambition. In which 'good if you get it, well if you lose.' (mentality was present) I played in teams that were non-stop at the top. That's what I missed in Rome. "
"I remember my first NBA game, I'll always remember it. The first match against New York Knicks. That first match I played in a trance. I did very well! I scored 15 points, but there was something that, as the Celtic people said, only happened one time before: the whole arena cheered: 'Dino, Dino!' Just one rookie before me received this in his opening game - Larry Bird! I was delighted and the basketball opponent was the formidable - Patrick Ewing! (They played before in Olympic games in Barcelona '92, twice)
There it is, Dino could have joined the Celtics much earlier, but the times were different.
I hope you have enjoyed the read.