Basketball was his passion, basketball was his life – Radomir Šaper

On December 9, 1925, a remarkable man was born in Belgrade. The one who would dedicate his whole life to basketball and who would make this game so popular in our region. His name was Radomir Šaper. 

On December 9, 1925, a remarkable man was born in Belgrade. The one who would dedicate his whole life to basketball and who would make this game so popular in our region. His name was Radomir Šaper.

Šaper (1925-1998) had a PhD in engineering, while he was a professor and Vice-Dean at the Faculty of Technology and Metallurgy of the University of Belgrade. Still, his real passion was basketball.

He started playing basketball with his elder brother Sveta in BASK, while during his pro career Šaper played for the two most popular clubs in Belgrade – Crvena zvezda and Partizan. He was also a member of the Yugoslav national team, where he was playing alongside other great basketball people like Borislav Stanković, Nebojša Popović and Aleksandar Nikolić.

And it was this generation of players that was about to change the history of basketball in this region.

In 1953, Radomir Šaper, Borislav Stanković, Nebojša Popović and Aleksandar Nikolić, all active athletes whose playing careers were in decline or completely over, decided to join the Basketball Association of Yugoslavia. This group of well-educated men and true basketball lovers had the same goals, ideas, ambitions and strengths to turn their fantasies of achieving European and global heights into reality. Thus, the strategy to take Yugoslav basketball to the top was set in stone.

Radomir Šaper was the first to receive an official position as leader of the Technical Secretariat, later renamed the Competition Commission. In mid-1958, the new management decided to apply to organize the twelfth European Championship, which was scheduled to take place in 1961. Yugoslavia managed to reach the finals against the then-invincible team from the Soviet Union. After an epic struggle, Yugoslavia was defeated, thus winning the silver medal.

This was the first medal in the history of Yugoslav basketball.

After that Yugoslavia started winning the medals on a regular basis, while basketball has become one of the most popular sports among people.

In late February 1965, Radomir Šaper was elected as President of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia. Šaper was the president of the Basketball Federation of Yugoslavia until 1973, when he was appointed secretary general. He was also the commissioner of the Yugoslav Basketball Cup and the creator and initiator of the YUBA League, a national championship organized and conceived to be the strongest tournament in the world after the American NBA.

At the Congress of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) held on 24 August 1972, Radomir Šaper was elected president of its Technical Commission, a position in which he remained until his death in 1998. Together with Bora Stanković, he was a member of the Central Board. His contributions to the development and improvement of basketball in the world were invaluable, including introduction of new and innovative rules and improvement in the quality of refereeing.

His invaluable contribution to the promotion of basketball rules at the international level has often been acknowledged. Since 2001, FIBA has handed out the “Radomir Šaper” award for significant contributions to furthering basketball in the world. FIBA also posthumously awarded Šaper its Order of Merit.

And on 1 March 2007, in Alcobendas, Spain, the FIBA Hall of Fame opened. Together with 38 others honored were five basketball players, coaches, referees and basketball officials from Serbia who had contributed greatly to the sport of basketball.

One of them was Professor Radomir “Raša” Šaper.