“His obsession was to be the best” | Relevo

“His obsession was to be the best” | Relevo
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If it had to be summarized in one sentence Mario Hezonja (Croatia, 1995), It could perfectly be done as follows: a player of “incredible talent”, an unparalleled “basketball reader” and a very “particular” person, “obsessed with improving and being the best”. Perhaps that is why what could well be called the two sides of the Croatian forward is perfectly understood. That A-side full of explosiveness and quality in abundance that is capable of sweeping the track; and that side B where that more “peculiar” side comes to light that sometimes plays tricks on him, like in the second game of these Euroleague playoffs against Baskonia, when he was disqualified for a double technical. At least, that’s how those who know him define him, players who shared a locker room with the now forward whose name keeps being heard due to the unknowns about what fate the future will hold for him.

The truth is that if Hezonja has made anything clear these two years that he has been at Real Madrid, it is that for him, basketball is the axis on which he guides absolutely everything. “Mario was and is a very funny person, but at the same time special and very professional. He always had his routines and goals in which daily life could not affect him,” the now BC player Lietkabelis explains to Relevo. Stefan Peno, who shared a dressing room with the Croatian in . City to which Hezonja moved when he was only 17 years old after training in his native Dubrovnik and at KK Zagreb.

“I played with him a couple of games in the juniors and then very little in the first team, but playing with him was very easy, understands basketball at a very high level and at the same time he was more powerful than all the opposing teams, so Almost everything you imagined you wanted to do with it you could try and most of the time it turned out well.“, confesses Peno. And Hezonja’s talent is something that has predominated since he was very young. Therefore, when due to Juan Carlos Navarro’s injury he had to take a step forward with Barça, he did so without being the pulse trembles.

It was then that he met the former player Bostjan Nachbar, now director of the Euroleague Players Association (ELPA) and friend of the Croatian to this day, who remembers how “thorough” the now Real Madrid forward was (and is) when it came to playing. “When I played with him… ten years ago! Mario was a young player, he was just starting to play at a professional level, but You could already see at that age what he was like, incredibly talented, very determined to succeed.. A player with a great desire to play well and win games,” he confesses. And, precisely, this is something that he has made clear since he has been at Real Madrid.

“At a very young age you could already see what he was like, with incredible talent, with a great desire to play well and win games”

Bostjan Nachbar
Former Barça player

It is enough to remember those words after Estrella Roja’s game at WiZink or, precisely, against Baskonia, in which the Vitoria team took the victory, with which he said that it was a “shame” how the team had played and that That was something that Real Madrid could not allow. Because if the Croatian has made something clear, it is that it is about “a guy extremely focused on basketball, very professional, very thorough in basketball. And as I said before, with a great desire to succeed,” as Nachbar says.


Therefore, the fact that his path took him to the NBA was not strange. At Barça he had already done things well, enough to reach that fifth place in the 2015 Draft in which he was chosen by the Orlando Magic. “He was lottery pickI came from university, maybe we didn’t have that much in common because well, fresh from university I was quite new to everything, but yes We had that as foreigners, that we knew a little more about the FIBA ​​game“recalls the now Fuenlabrada player, Garino Duck. And although it was only a few months that both shared in Orlando, it was already clear that Hezonja’s ambition was very present.

“You could see the , the energy, the desire… His obsession to improve and be the best”

Garino Duck
Fuenlabrada player

You could notice the passion, the energy, the desire to train that he has.. Not because it is where it is. That work ethic, his obsession to improve and be the besta little with that ego that has helped him so much in this time, on and off the field,” recalls Garino. And it is precisely that ego of wanting to be the best, which sometimes plays tricks on him with those outbursts. that he sometimes has, has also been one of the issues that has built him as a player. And, as Nachbar explained, Hezonja has “a gift, he is extremely physical, but also. a very strong mentalityas he continues to show today.

If something is also seen from the forward, it is that the relationship with his teammates at Real Madrid is good. Something that was demonstrated when the captain, Sergio Llull, came to his defense, for example, after that tribute at the Bernabéu in which the Croatian did not participate. Although the truth is that what everyone agrees on is that he is a very “particular” person, especially with his private life. So much so that there have been certain sources consulted by Relevo who, precisely for this reason, have preferred not to talk about him.

Although, as Nachbar comments, what happens with Hezonja is that “Mario is that type of person who is a little reserved. Of course he was with everyone on the team, but off the court He liked to keep his private life“. And, precisely, this is verified on his social networks, where he does not follow anyone and only shows basketball things. Because as Nachbar himself explains, what is seen on his networks shows what he is: “A worker tough and a boy who gives everything on the court.



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