MIAMI – Goran Dragic’s popularity in Slovenia continues to soar since leading his country to an improbable run through the EuroBasket Championships last summer.
This week Dragic topped the list of the 100 Most Influential Slovenians of 2017, beating out, among others, first lady Melania Trump and the Slovenian president.
Basketball player Luca Doncic, the second-best player on the national team’s run to the title and a projected top-five pick in this year’s NBA draft, was second to Dragic on the list.
Melania Trump, who was born in Slovenia, was seventh and President Borut Pahor was the highest ranked politician at No. 8.
Dragic, the Heat’s All-Star point guard, led Slovenia to its first EuroBasket championship in August and was the tournament’s MVP. Slovenia’s victory was a stunning upset as Dragic averaged 22.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists while Slovenia finished 9-0 in the tournament.
Dragic was honored in his homeland after the tournament, even receiving write-in votes in the country’s presidential election although he has said he has no interest in a future career in politics.
With the Heat being eliminated from the NBA playoffs by Philadelphia on Tuesday, Dragic will return home in about three weeks and spend most of his summer in his hometown of Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, a country of just more then 2 million people. He was home for two days following the gold medal game last August before coming to Miami to prepare for the start of training camp. He has not been back since.
Dragic, who turns 32 May 6, retired from his national team and has no plans to play Internationally this summer.
Dragic led the Heat in scoring during the regular season and playoffs this past season and was named to the All-Star team for the first time in his 10-year career.