Phoenix, AZ - NBA's Phoenix Suns recently announced they've hired Igor Kokoskov, former Utah Jazz lead assistant, as their new head coach, making the Serb the first bench boss in NBA history to be born and raised outside of North America.
Kokoskov, 46, is no stranger to Phoenix, as he was an assistant there for five years through 2013. His return is reportedly a three-year contract. General Manager Ryan McDonough was quoted saying, "We are thrilled to bring Valley resident Igor Kokoskov back to Arizona as head coach of the Phoenix Suns. Igor has been a pioneer throughout his basketball career and he brins a wealth of high-level coaching experience to our club."
In 2017, Kokoskov guided the Slovenian national team to its first EuroBasket championship. The team inluded Miami Heat All-Star Goran Dragic and teenage phenomenon Luka Doncic, who is expected to be among the top picks in the draft next month. Phoenix will have the best lottery picks having finished in the bottom of the standings this season.
Kokoskov replaces head coach Earl Watson, who was fired just three games into the 2017-18 campaign. Assistant Jay Triano served as interim coach for the remainder of the season, but did not get the nod for the permanent job.
Kokoskov is described as a Belgrade native born in Banatski Brestovac, Serbia. He has been coaching since 1992. He was gracious in his comments on Twitter, saying he greatly appreciates the opportunity that Robert Sarver and Ryan McDonough have given him.
As for his new position in Phoenix, he said, "I am certainly proud to be the first head coach in the NBA raised outside North America and just as excited to return to the Suns organization and Phoenix, my family's home for the past ten years."
We expect to see a lot of Serbian flags flying at Suns games next season!