This past weekend a high-stake qualifying game of the FIBA Eurobasket between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Russia was played in Tuzla. This game was especially important for the hosts, because losing it would significantly lower their chances to qualifiy for the 2017 Eurobasket. Which is exactly what happened, and Bosnian players were escorted off the court with boos from their own crowd.
But this is not the reason for the general disatisfaction of their countrymen. The real reason is the behavior of one of their own players, their NBA star, a Milwaukee Buck Mirza Teletović. When the game started to slip from their hands, players started to lose their head a little bit, and Teletović, who is the team captain, exchanged a few words with the youngest player on the team, a 17-year old Džanan Musa, then grabbed him by the neck and pushed him away.
You can see the incident in the video below…
Rumours say the altercation betweem the two players continued in the lockerroom, but their teammates intervened to stop a fight.
At the press conferencce after the game, Damir Mulaomerović, Bosnia and Herzegovina coach, a former player himself, vividly disspointed with the situation, expressed his dissapointment with the loss, but more so with the behavior of his players. He said the fight between Teletović and Musa has been resolved in the lockerroom after the game, and it is water under the bridge now.
After the game, Bosnian social media was filled with negative comments about the entire situation, treating Mirza Teletović as a negative character, a guy who chose to build his authority on a 17-year old NBA prospect and a fan favorite. Some of the comments were very offensive, many of the fans cursed Teletović for this behavior, it was a pretty ugly situation. I am sorry, I cannot post the comments since they’re all in Bosnian language, but here is the translation of some of them:
- “Teletović is a disgrace to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sports and the national team. Teletović, you should be ashamed of yourself!”
- “Attacking a young player like this? You are a captain and should be a role model, shame on you.”
- “Musa is giving 100% for Bosnia in every match, and these so called NBA stars give 5%. Get out of here you fakers!”
- “Mirza is nothing but a hillbilly. Got used to the west, and the US dollars. Go back to the USA and never come back. We don’t need you!”
There were a few lot worse then these, but we translated the “clean” ones.
What happened next is a classic example of how a player should control the communication. Mirza Teletović called a press conference the day after the incident occured, and cleared everything up.
Since the entire conference is in Bosnian language, I will not post the video. I will just write down a few points Teletović addressed. Teletović said that he tried to calm Musa down after he was fouled by a Russian player. Instead of calming down, Musa cursed at Mirza and that was the boiling point which caused Teletović’s reaction. Accorrding to Teletović, “nothing happened in the lockerroom after the game.” They talked, Dzanan apologized for his reaction (although he said he didn’t curse on his Facebook page), and Mirza did the same for pushing him away.
But, the communication does not stop there! Later that day (after his press conference), Mirza posted a short video on Facebook in which himself and Musa addressed the public.
In the video, which is once again in Bosnian language, they apologized to one another, but most importantly, they apologized to all of their fans in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the rest of the world. Many positive comments (along with a few negative ones) poured in under this video, some of which were (translated):
- “This is what it’s all about! Great athletes and great men!”
- “Fights can happen in the heat of the moment. It’s great to see this!”
- “Great job Mirza! Once again you should how to be a man, a patriot and a professional.”
- “Together you are stronger!”
Dzanan Musa shared this video on his official Facebook page, and the effect was about the same.
What have we learned from this mishap? Bad things happen. Maybe not that often on the court/field, and these kind of fights usually happen between two or more members of different teams, but rarely between teammates. The public was furious about them losing the game, but even more furious with the behavior of their team captain Mirza Teletović.
So what did he do? He decided to take the communication into his own hands. Media wrote a lot about the incident, rumors were spread, and Teletović’s image was being damaged. So he called a press conference to tell his story, and then filmed a video of him and his teammate drinking coffee together. Great turn of events! At least it appears to be. Maybe they didn’t patch things up. Maybe they never will. But Teletović did the only thing that could be done at the time – he took matters into his own hands and controlled the communication. Hats off to him and his PR team.
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