Interview for "Sportski Zurnal", Serbian daily.
translated by: Milan Lazarevic
In January, just before a west coast road trip, Nenad Krstic gave his last interview to "Sportski Zurnal". The main subject back then was the hard and painful recovery from his left knee injury which cost him a great deal. That was a period full of trauma for Nenad, in every way.
A few months after that we met "Krle" on Zlatibor (Serbian mountain). He came to give support to sport promotion in Uzice (a small Serbian city). That was perfect chance to open up some new subjects.
Sportski Zurnal: What happened in your career during last few months?
Krstic: The difficult period is behind me. I was suffering because of wrong work with the Nets' physio (physical therapist?). After the injury I returned to the court too early. You probably remember a story about famous 28 stairs that I had to climb every day while my both legs were in plaster. I had to take a two-month pause in the middle of the season. Before that, I skipped the whole training camp, then I jumped into the team when it was already formed and prepared to play without me. I was thinking: "Oh, God please, when will this season end"? In the end, it was only important for me to play, at least several minutes (a game). I had a bug also in March when I get ill and temperature of 40 degrees (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Then I had a virus again in April. Oh, it was just important this season finally ended.
Sportski Zurnal: Last year at this time, the Nets were prepared to pay huge money just to have you stay with the team. Now, the situation has changed...
Krstic: That's life. In that period, everyone praised me: coach, media, club officials, supporters... If I had no injury, I would now have a five-year contract and financial independency. But, that's that. You can not have everything in your life: it's hard to plan anything. Anyway, I am used to having hard moments in my career, to walk on difficult paths. I had injury problems even in Partizan. I had lot of difficult moments, but now I am 25 years old, I know what's my value and what I can give to this sport. I just have to get back my self-confidence. I have a hard situation now with choosing where to continue my career. I have to sign a new contract which will not be even close to that one I could have without injury.
Sportski Zurnal: Nets didnt play in the play-offs. You've had long rest period. How did you plan your time before the National Team practices?
Krstic: I needed to rest psychologically. I'm so tired because of all these problems I had this year. I'm spending time with family and friends; I was working out a little in a gym. I'm on Belgrade - Kraljevo relations every day. I've had guests in...Primoz Brezec recently. He wanted to see Belgrade night life, and in the end he was fascinated. Bostjan Nahbar also had to come, but just as usual he fooled us. In USA all people from the former Yugoslavia are close and friendly. Even today I have everyday contact with Zoran Planinic who helped so much when I came to New Jersey.
Sportski Zurnal: Do you stay in NBA?
Krstic: I want to stay in NBA, but Europe is also an option. I believe in my manager (agent?).
Sportski Zurnal: In which NBA club would you like to play?
Krstic: I'm connected to Nets. I bought house, I had lot friends there, but maybe it's time to change everything. When I just came to Nets, the very first day they told me: "Kid, this is business. There's no emotions. Remember that." I learned that the hard way. Nobody gave me as a present my place on the team or my status. Now, I'm fighting to take it back. I'm expecting to sign the most important contract in my career during this summer. People think that in NBA everything is about huge money, but there are rules which you must follow. A lot of money we are paying in taxes, life costs, it's not like other people think. Of course, I'm not complaining, far from that, but financially I'm still not independent. But, still I can play a lot.
Sportski Zurnal: You didnt have success with National team last few years. Later you had problems because of canceling. What do you expect from new start?
Krstic: In this moment the Serbian National team is the most important (team) for me. My final goal is to qualify for the European Championships next year and make some positive result. I didn't play for the Serbian National team till now - it was always Yugoslavia or Serbia and Montenegro. I cant wait! When our National Team was Serbia and Montenegro, it was not so close to my heart. I didn't forget all the problems I had because of my decision to cancel last year, but I left it behind me. Many players were canceling, but I was the only one who was threatened with losing my passport. But, I don't want to come back on that subject. I know from my personal experience that a player always plays his best season after working the summer with National team. During this last year, I got tired of rehabilitations and individual training. I want team work.
Sportski Zurnal: What did you speak with National head-coach Dusan Ivkovic?
Krstic: We had friendly conversation. We were talking about life, basketball, everything... We didn't work together before and I must say that he's very pleasant man. It's unnecessary to talk about his coaching abilities, the biography says it all. We were sitting for half an hour and we didn't talk about the National Team a lot. He was interested in the history of my injury. He immediately said that he didn't come to beg me to play for the National Team, but to make correct contact. Even if he didn't come, I would play for the National Team. But, our conversation eye-to-eye was a great thing. I'm so optimistic about our potential to come back in style.
Sportski Zurnal: That's prophecy?
Krstic: I hope that it will become true. I think that we have players to get us back to the top of European basketball; we have huge quality. It's maybe better for us in this moment to start everything from zero, to build team with new victories and get self-confidence with it. Coach Ivkovic told me that Divac, Paspalj, Djordjevic and Danilovic had to play overtimes in 1995 against Bulgaria in the qualifying round for the European Championship and you all know what happened after that (3 European titles, 1 World title, silver medal in Atlanta 1996). If they could, then...
Sportski Zurnal: Fans expect you to be a leader?
Krstic: I'm not fit 100%, but there's enough time until 20th August when we will play first game in the qualifications. I think that I can raise my form rapidly. The National Team should not depend on one player: me or anybody else. We will make a strong team, that's the most important. Now, I'm one of the oldest on the National Team. I remember that in 2005 we had big stars in our squad, but that was not enough back then. The most important thing is that we have a good atmosphere.