It was like in the good old times. It was like stepping into a time machine, only this time Vlado Micov didn’t wear the Olimpia Milano jersey number 5. He showed up at the Mediolanum Forum with his wife and two children sporting his old jerseys, and it was as if time had never passed, because Vlado Micov left a mark that goes far beyond wins (a championship, an Italia Cup, three Super Cups, one of which as the MVP, the Final Four trip in 2021). He ended up staying four years in Milan, putting down roots in the San Siro area, calling this city his second home after Belgrade. Four intense, unforgettable years. When he was showed on the big screen, he smiled, and the choir started. “There is only one Professor”. It was his nickname. He had come to Milan and looked like a player in decline at the end of his career. In the first two years he played over 30 minutes per game in the EuroLeague, an often-silent leader who knew how to strike the right cord when he uttered two words, sometimes the most uncomfortable ones. But they didn’t allow any replies. He had spoken and he was right. He knew it, everyone knew it.
– Do you remember, Vlado, the circumstances that accompanied your arrival in Milan?
“Previously, I had played in Cantù. Many good players were passing through Milan during those seasons. Milan and Siena had the best teams. We in Cantù grew up step by step, we played some good games against Milan. After the three years spent at Galatasaray, when the call from Milan came, I told my agent “That’s it, I’m going there”. I don’t want to say that it was my dream to come to Milan, but it was one of my favorite destinations. Signing for Milan, living in Milan”.
– During the first season, there were many ups and downs, but then you guys won the championship.
“It happens every season, for every team, when you change the coach, so many players it takes time to put the puzzle together, to put all the pieces of the mosaic in place. That year we had many foreigners and then many players who didn’t have much high-level experience in Europe. This is why we didn’t play the EuroLeague playoffs. But we won the championship, at the end of the season, and it’s always hard. In fact, we didn’t always succeed. Then Ettore arrived and everything changed immediately”.
– In 2018 you were named the MVP of the Super Cup Final Four. For once, the ultimate team player was rewarded for what he did individually.
“Throughout my career I have never played for or chased individual goals. My playing philosophy has always been the same throughout my life: basketball is a team sport. As long as the team wins, I’m happy, that’s all. The Super Cup is played at the beginning of the season, many teams are not able to get there in shape or are not able to play as they would like. In that edition of Brescia, everything was set up for us to win easily. The MVP award kind of surprised me. I knew I had played well, but I didn’t know how well I had played. My son took me to his school, asked me to show my clips, some buzzer beater, trophies. And then he asked me how many times I was MVP. I explained that it is very difficult, because everything has to be set up a certain way. The team has to play well enough to win, and as a player, on top of all that, you have to play well enough to be the best among the winners. It’s really hard to do that.”
– During the 2019/20 season you made the winning three-pointer for three times. Certain players do it once in their career, many never, three times in a year just never happens.
“Yes, that’s an incredible number, three times in one season. It was with Cremona, Venice and Valencia. I don’t know what to say, the most important thing is to have won those games. At that particular moment, I was always open. Against Cremona I was wide open. In Venice, Chacho made a drive in the middle of the paint, then he kicked it out. But the most significant one was that of Valencia, it was the Covid period, it would have been our last game of the year, empty gym. That was basically how we ended the season, with that basket. They were all great moments.”
– You have reached the EuroLeague Final Four three times. You never won it. What’s your feeling, regrets or pride?
“I don’t regret anything, everything I’ve done in life. Unfortunately, I never won them, three times I got there and three times I immediately lost the semifinal and all three times the coach was Ettore Messina, twice in Moscow and once in Milan. If I have to look at my entire career, sum it up, the only negative aspect is this: I was not able to win the EuroLeague. But, overall, I’m super happy with how my career has gone, I have no regrets.”
– In Milan, they called you the Professor.
“The fans gave me that nickname. Throughout my career I always showed very little emotion and some coaches didn’t like it, they wanted to see more emotion, more reactions on the court. Those of them who knew me knew that’s how I am. Here I believe it was Dan Peterson who said I played like a submarine. I played well, but I was always underwater. I did many good things, but no one could see them. I’ve always done what the team needed to help it win. There are things not seen in the stats sheet, that do not appear, but they are crucial. Kyle Hines comes to mind, because I don’t want to talk about myself: there are so many things he does on the court that make you win, but they don’t appear anywhere. That’s what I’ve been trying to do my entire career. And because of all these things, on and off the court, leading a very private life, in the end they started calling me that, the Professor. I find it funny, and it’s also a great honor that people have called me that.”
– What did Milan mean to you?
“A lot. I know many players changing team, city, country and they have been able to say they feel like at home, with their family. It’s certainly true, it depends a lot on how much intense a sentence like that is, but for me spending four years here was special. I grew up with the team, I played well, we reached the Final Four after more than 20 years in the club history. They were happy years, my family enjoyed them, they had a good time, and as I said in my last interview, buying an apartment in Milan is the best evidence of how much I feel at home here. Now with my wife we have the chance to start a new life in Belgrade, where we haven’t had the chance to really live for about 17 years. But Milan always represents another option. There are many things I like about Milan. I had a great relationship with the fans, with the people of Milan, with the club and with Olimpia in general. I can honestly, from the bottom of my heart, say this is my home.”