Jiří Zídek

* 1944  †︎ 2022

  • “We played an intercontinental tournament in Italy, it means that there were the best teams from Europe, that was us and Simmenthal Milano, and then select Americans representing the U. S. and then Brazilian national team for South America. There, people started to be interested in me and I decided that I would leave for the U. S., to Boston. They ordered a car for me, drove me to the airport where the ticket to Boston was ready for me. But… at the end… I had a strong bond with Czechoslovakia, there was my future first wife, my family, my sister taught at university so I was really worried that should I accept the offer, my family, friends and buddies would be discriminated against, it was normal at those times. So I gave the ticket back and came back to Czechoslovaka with the team and I continued playing sports there.”

  • "Back then, army service was compulsory but it was already shortened so I served in Olomouc for half a year. There was [the Army sports club] Dukla where sportsmen in the army played." "And did they pressure you to stay in Dukla?" "Yes, there was some pressure so that I would stay and continue for playing with Dukla Olomouc. But I in fact wanted to go back home, to Prague. It was difficult to get a flat there, though. Later, I got one but it was the only reward because in those 1950s, we played for chesnuts, in fact. As a member of the national team, I got 200 CZK for month."

  • "At that time, I had to be employed somewhere, somehow, because everyone had to be employed. The whole university board, Professor Holý and others, were academic dignitaries. They had me accepted to the department of physical education and sports at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at the Czech Technical University. I was always on the run. I taught full time at the university, twice a day, I had basketball practice and at the same time, we were members of the national team. Do not forget that back then, we played sixty to eighty matches a year."

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    Praha, 26.07.2019

    délka: 01:11:29
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Tipsport for Legends
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Měl jsem krásný basketbalový život

Jiří Zídek, undated photograph
Jiří Zídek, undated photograph
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Zídek was born on the 8th of February of 1944 in Prague. Soon after, the family moved to a small town of Poběžovice near Domažlice. When Jiří was attending a high school in Plzeň, the coach of Spartak, the local basketball team, noticed how tall Jiří was and invited him to join the team. This way, his basketball career started. Starting from 1962, he played for fourteen consecutive seasons for Slavia in Prague. With Slavia, he became the winner of the league six times, he played in the EuroLeague FIBA European Champions Cup and the FIBA European Cup Winners‘ Cup. With the Czechoslovak representation, he won silver and bronze at the European Champioships, he participated in the Munich Olympics in 1972. He‘s been the unbeated leading scorer of the Czechoslovak (and Czech) league of all times. In 2001, he was voted the best Czech basketball player of the century and in 2013, he was introduced to the Hall of Fame of the Czech Basketball Federation. The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) introduced him to their Hall of Fame as the first Czech ever in 2019. Jiří Zídek died in May 2022.