Back in July, on the day he signed his contract with the Nets, Dzazan Musa noted his good fortune but also commemorated the 23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre when 8,000 Bosnian men and boys were lined up and shot to death, their bodies left behind by Serbian troops.
“I’m thinking all day about the irony that I’m signing my first NBA contract on this day,” he told Radio Sarajevo. “I sympathize with my Bosnia and Herzegovina and I do not plan to celebrate this day, because of Srebrenica and the tragedy that struck my people.”
“As much as I am happy for everything, part of me does not allow me to show emotions. These people are a part of all of us.”
On Saturday, in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, NBA Players Only Films will debut “Something in the Water,” a documentary on basketball in the former Yugoslavia, how hoops remains the constant in the six successor countries after revolutions and civil wars.
Unlike “Once Brothers,” ESPN’s well-received documentary on how those wars destroyed the friendship between Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac in the 1990’s, “Something in the Water” will focus on the next generation of young players from the Balkans, specifically Luka Doncic of Slovenia and the Nets’ Musa of Bosnia.
Here’s the trailer...
Players Only Films - "Something in the Water"
In the former Yugoslavia, basketball is an inspiration for the future & a reminder of the best of the past. Players Only Films presents “Something in the Water” featuring Luka Doncic & Džanan Musa. Coming soon on Facebook WatchPosted by Players Only Films on Monday, August 6, 2018
Ben Golliver of Sports Illustrated got a sneak preview of the doc and spoke with Musa.
“Yugoslavian people have self-discipline that no other countries have because we are kids of the war,” Musa told Golliver. “I wasn’t born during the war, but I felt it because my dad was in the military. He had 2,000 soldiers that he was responsible for. When you see people die all the time, it’s natural to fight for everything and to be emotional about everything. We have a ‘little something’ that no one can describe because the horrible, terrible war made us stronger.”
Both Musa and Doncic left home early, Musa at 11, Doncic at 13, to pursue their NBA dreams and the documentary touches on how that, too, gave the top two international picks in the Draft an edge. The filmmakers follow the two players as they prepare for the Draft. For example, Musa is shown telling a Clippers scout how he cooked his own meals and cared for himself. He has spoken since the draft about he often cried himself to sleep.
Doncic, the Mavericks rookie is the star of the show, but Musa gets attention as well. Golliver describes him as “a complex character painted with depth” who “holds nothing back.”
During a pre-draft interview, Musa he should be a lottery pick. (The Nets agreed). The owner of Cedevita, the team he played for in Croatia describes as “arrogant” and “an egomaniac.” (The Nets actually like that.) Musa is shown looking frustrated on the bench and animated on the court, Golliver writes.
Musa does not hide the fact that he is a devout Muslim and talked to Golliver about how he does not forget insults directed at him because of his faith.
“I was a boy at 16 years old and I heard the insults,” Musa told Golliver, recalling a game in mostly Catholic Croatia. “It affected me a lot. I was sitting on the bench for 40 minutes. I didn’t play at all and my team lost.
“[The fans] insulted me from behind the bench and they were throwing things at me. That’s something you have to deal with as a target when you’re in a different country. I’m not the guy who will say now that those fans are bad. I think they’re just fans and they just want to show they support their team. But I think that’s the wrong way to show support.”
Musa speaks as well about his reverence for the former Net, Drazen Petrovic, recalling a visit to a monument of Petrovic in his hometown of Sibenik.
“That statue says it all,” Musa said. “His head is to the floor and he’s thinking. People say that’s how he was every day. He’d see the court and think about how he can develop that day. He was a natural, he was so full of emotions. When he scored a basket, it was like he scored a goal. He had so much love for basketball. He’s a hero. That’s the only word.”
The 42-minute documentary will air on Facebook Watch,
- ‘Kids of the War’: Luka Doncic and Dzanan Musa are Latest to Jump From Former Yugoslavia to NBA - Ben Golliver - Sports Illustrated