Five-Ring Circus

The Olympics’ Most Entertaining Basketball Showman Plays for Serbia

The U.S. didn’t send its best team. Ben Simmons decided not to play for Australia. Everyone on the Argentina roster is 80 years old. Spain’s pretty meh without Marc Gasol. And Serbia—Serbia has a point guard who’s turned the Rio Olympics into his own hoops mixtape. On Sunday, Miloš Teodosić will have the chance to win a gold medal against a bunch of Americans who are probably pretty happy that he’s never taken the opportunity to embarrass them in the NBA.

In Serbia’s 87-61 semifinal win over Australia, Teodosić scored 22 points, had five assists, and made the ridiculous pass above, a between-the-legs dish off the pick and roll. It was an amazing play, and it was not even close to Teodosić’s best highlight of the Olympics.

There was this one, in the closing minutes of Serbia’s 94-91 group-stage loss against the United States. It seems impossible that (a) he could see his open teammate at the three-point line and (b) that he could whip the ball backwards, behind his head, and have it reach said teammate at chest height. And yet.

But Teodosić’s best pass of the Olympics came against Venezuela. You might have to watch this video a couple of times to figure out which guy he picked out on the fast break.

The 29-year-old Teodosić isn’t just a flashy point guard. He’s a great one. This highlight reel shows his absolute mastery of pick-and-roll offense.

Now that that’s been established, let’s watch some more Miloš Teodosić highlights. This full-court underhanded parabola is positively Maravich-ian.

This no-looker is an absolute delight.


If you’re in the mood for a longer highlight reel with some sick tunes in the background, here you go:

Natural follow-up question: Given that he invented basketball, why isn’t Miloš Teodosić in the NBA? According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, the Memphis Grizzlies tried to sign him in 2013, but their two-year, $5 million offer wasn’t enough to lure him away from European powerhouse CSKA Moscow.

Stein reports that Teodosić says playing in the NBA was his goal “a long time ago.” If he’d still like to give it a shot, his contract with CSKA expires next summer, and he’ll likely have plenty of suitors. For his part, U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski calls him “as good of a player, and as good of a guard, as there is in Europe.” Krzyzewski added, “I love him. We’re friends.”

That friendship will be tested in Sunday’s gold-medal game. If he orchestrates an upset win over the United States, Teodosić will join Novak Djokovic as the greatest sportsman in Serbia’s history. If Serbia loses, he can take comfort in the fact that he turned what could’ve been a bummer of a tournament into a personal showcase. LeBron James is the best passer in the NBA for now. That title will belong to Miloš Teodosić as soon as he wants it.

See more of Slate’s Olympics coverage.