Do you remember in elementary school when you maybe got a different teacher than one of your best friends? You’d still see each other now and again, but it wasn’t quite the same as when you’re together all day everyday. Then maybe the next year you were back together and it felt like the most amazing reunion?
Even prior to coming over to the NBA, the two had some familiarity playing in the Adriatic League, which reaches across what used to be Yugoslavia and those eastern parts of Europe and considered by me to be one of the five or so best leagues in the world.
There, Šarić played for Cibona, a program that’s produced other NBA players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Ante Zizic. Meanwhile, Luwawu-Cabbarot, or “TLC”, played for KK Mega, where guys like Nikola Jokic, Nikola Jovic, and Ivica Zubac hail from.
Šarić was selected 12th overall in the 2014 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic who traded his draft rights to Philadelphia for none other than two-time former Sun Elfrid Payton. Šarić left Cibona that same summer for Anadolu Efes of the EuroLeague, where he would remain for a couple seasons before coming to the Sixers in 2016. It only took three games for him to have 20-plus points in a contest for Philly.
TLC on the other hand was drafted by the Sixers in 2016 and came over that same summer. He was starting as a rookie by February and totaled a season-high 24 points in April.
Each guy was traded away from Philly in 2018; TLC to Oklahoma City in July and Šarić to Minnesota in November.
The two have made various stops since and now find themselves reuniting in the Valley, albeit with TLC on a training camp deal for now. Naturally, when each made their media day appearances, I had to ask about the reunion:
“He’s one of my best friends in the NBA. We came together as rookies and we had the same path — we both used to play [in the] Adriatic League back home, he was playing for a Serbian team and I was playing for a Croatian team, so we have a lot of things to talk about, and we are really good friends. Of course we talk a little bit about Philly days and how it was back then, how was my role, his role and that kind of stuff that usually basketball players are talking about. But he is one of my favorite players — favorite friends — in the league, and I’m happy he is with us, and he’s such a great guy, and I hope he will play well for us.”
“The duo is back. We started together, obviously great friends. Very excited to have him here, brings me more comfort too, to have someone that I know that well and very excited. That’s all I can say.”
How far does that friendship reach? If you take a peek at their respective jersey histories, there’s a little bit of overlap. In Philly, Šarić wore #9 and TLC wore #20. Šarić now wears #20 since he joined the Suns and TLC wore #9 in Brooklyn during a recent stint. Is it intentional? Maybe! For the sake of this — and since it’s actually plausible — let’s go with yes.
Who knows if the reunion is a long-term one, with TLC being on that training camp deal. There is one spot open left on the 15-man roster, though that may be utilized in a Crowder trade in which Phoenix takes back two guys. But for the time they have together here, may their good vibes emanate infectiously throughout the organization.