King Cool

After a childhood dodging bullets in Croatia, the Kings' Peja Stojakovic can forget even the worst airball.

Updated: April 2, 2003, 3:12 PM ET
By By Ric Bucher, ESPN The Magazine
The clothes in Peja Stojakovic's locker have prompted the usual stir. The dress shirt is white, checked with light blue and brown. The tie is similarly colored, with bold wide stripes, while the navy suit is lightly pinstriped. The shoes are brown; the socks, tan. As NBA locker rooms go, where monochromatic outfits and vintage-jersey-with-matching-'do-rag are considered high couture, it's a complex ensemble, to say the least. And not just for the color coordination. Pants and jacket are a narrow European cut. The tie stops well above the belt. All of which has earned him the nickname Euro Rolla: affectionate, but not quite complimentary.

"Look at that," Bobby Jackson says, frowning. "Checks and stripes." (A Gale Sayers vintage jersey and jeans hang in his locker.) Peja clucks his tongue and rolls his eyes. "You Americans," he says. "Go back to your baggy clothes and Sean John jeans. You know nothing about fashion." Minutes later, fellow Yugoslavian Vlade Divac strolls in, wearing an untucked denim shirt, Sean John jeans and Huaraches. Vlade is Peja's mentor of sorts; they roomed together at last summer's World Championships in Indianapolis. But this betrayal is no shock. "He's an American citizen!" Peja says, making it sound like the ultimate insult. "He's gone. He hasn't been to Europe in 10 years!"