Growing Up ... Pavlovic

January 29, 2009
They’ve always had talent, but what were the Cavaliers like before they became rich and gigantic and famous?

Today, we look back at the beginnings of one of the longest-tenured Cavaliers – drafted 18 spots behind LeBron James by the Utah Jazz and a staple to the Wine and Gold’s backcourt, Sasha Pavlovic.

In today's Growing Up, the Cavaliers’ athletic swingman talks about his early days back in Serbia, getting tutored by a father who played pro hoops and coming to America …

When I was born … my country was still Yugoslavia. Then it was Serbia-Montenegro. Now it’s separated – it’s Serbia and Montenegro. I was actually born in Montenegro, in a little town called Bar.

Bar is on … the coast – there’s palm trees and everything. It’s not how people picture Serbia. It’s beautiful. I’m always on the beach.

It’s never … snowy there. We have beaches, and my hometown is under the mountains, too. But it never gets cold enough to snow.

People always ask me … if I’m Serbian or Montenegran. It’s the same thing. They change the name every year, but it’s the same thing. I’m Serbian.

I have two younger sisters and … they both play volleyball professionally. One is 23 and she’s playing in Italy now. And one is 19, she’s playing in Serbia now. In Belgrade.

My mother never … played sports. But my dad played basketball, professionally. He played the four. He was taller than me, but very athletic.

Growing up … he gave me a basketball as soon as I started walking. I never played any other sports. No football (soccer) or anything. Just basketball.

My dad took me … everywhere – practices, games. And I’d go to watch him play, growing up.

He was my coach … back home and he was pretty tough on me. That’s probably why I’m here now. He wouldn’t let me joke around during practice or anything. He was tough on everybody, but when I’d work out with him alone, by myself, he was pretty tough.

Now I understand … why he was tough – because it’s important to be serious about the game of basketball.

He’s still … giving me tips. He calls me all the time. He watches every game.

I started playing and practicing … with a team when I was around nine years old. And I started playing professionally when I was 15. I was going against guys who were 20, 25, 30.

I was playing … on a professional team from 15 until I was around 19, and scouts were always coming to our games because we had young, talented players. They probably saw me there, talked to my agent and they sent me (to the U.S.) to work out.

I didn’t really grow tall … that quick. It was little by little. I didn’t shoot up fast like everybody else.

The first time I dunked … I think I was 13 or 14. I’m not 100 percent sure. It felt great! It wasn’t a very strong dunk – I barely got it through. But everybody went nuts. It was in a game; I stole the ball and it was a fast break.

Yeah, I remember. It felt great!