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Nikola Mirotic: From the NBA to Serbian sheep cheesemaker

Nikola Mirotic played in the NBA, is now competing in the EuroLeague, and is already crafting his post-retirement future by producing cheese on a farm he owns in Serbia.

Nikola Mirotic joined Real Madrid at the ripe age of 14 years of age all the way back in 2005. Just for context, Luka Doncic was just six years old by then and still seven years separated from joining the Spanish club himself.

Six years after signing with Real Madrid, Mirotic was drafted by the Houston Rockets with a late first-round pick in 2011. He stayed in Spain for a few more years and finally arrived in the Association ahead of the 2015 season … as part of the Chicago Bulls organization after a couple of draft-day trades.

Now plying his trade in Europe after a five-season run in the NBA ending in 2019, Mirotic is splitting his working time between Barcelona and Serbia. He plays basketball for the former and runs a farm in his native country.

Mirotic revealed his side business in a video released by the Spanish basketball league (ACB) as part of its “Let’s Talk” series. The series presents players to the public while they offer their thoughts about different social and current issues going on around the world.

In the latest installment of the series, published a few days ago, Nikola Mirotic was joined by fellow professionals Dairis Bertans and Alex Renfroe to discuss issues related to money and fame management in the world of basketball.

Dairis Bertans (brother of Davis Bertans) played for the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2018-19 season while Renfrow went undrafted coming out of Belmont in 2009 and moved to Latvia to start his professional career.

Nikola Mirotic earned All-Rookie First Team accolades, he’s won multiple Spanish titles, and is the reigning Euroleague MVP. Mirotic is also a farmer

“Money doesn’t make you happy. Fame either.”

Mirotic, who spent five years living in the United States while playing for the Bulls, the Pelicans, and the Bucks, said that he got to “see people who had nothing, literally nothing, go from there to having millions and once they get there they just lost it.”

Per Basketball-Reference.com, Mirotic’s NBA contracts amounted to a total in excess of $41 million. The individual deals he signed with the three franchises he played for range from a minimum of $5.3 million in his first NBA season to a maximum of $12.5 million in each of his last two years spent in the Association.

Speaking about how he’s dealt with the vast amount of money he’s earned through his years as a pro, both in the USA and Europe, Mirotic confirmed that he “has a great team of people around” who helps him manage everything. “Financial experts, people that deal with the marketing, psychologists… They have been around protecting me.”

“Around 70 percent of the players end in bankruptcy,” estimates Mirotic. “A lot of them don’t know what to do when their careers are over. It feels like the end of the world.”

Mirotic highlighted the fact that the NBA and other professional leagues, to his eyes, are not doing enough to prepare players for when that time comes, saying that the organizers of those competitions have to “work and talk more to the players so they’re more conscious” about what is ahead, and also help them “getting ready for that as playing careers are over quickly.”

Most interestingly, Mirotic unveiled his side job as a farmer in his native Serbia.

“I’ve bought a farm. I like animals. I have sheep. I produce sheep’s milk cheese in Serbia,” said Mirotic. “Once my career is over, I don’t think I will spend a lot of money.”

Mirotic acknowledged that he already has a lot of money and that he will have more in the future as his career keeps going, but he also thinks he “won’t spend a lot of that money to live.”

The Serbian veteran also said that he thinks “the important thing is to teach and educate children,” instead of “showing them what you have, what they’ll inherit, and how easy their lives will be (because of that).” Mirotic used his own life as an example, saying that he is “a country boy” and that he will eventually “return to [his] village” even after “having lived all of [his] life in the best cities.”

Mirotic is currently playing for Spanish club Barcelona. He declined a three-year, $45 million contract offer by the Utah Jazz back in the summer of 2019 to sign with Barcelona and play in the EuroLeague.

The forward has yet to win the EuroLeague but he won the tournament’s MVP award last season while helping Barcelona to reach the Final Four, ultimately finishing third.

Barcelona is second in the regular-season standings with an 8-3 record in the early stages of the 2022-23 season.

After suffering an Achilles injury this past summer forcing him to miss time, Mirotic made his EuroLeague debut on Thursday, finishing the game against Alba Berlin with 19 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists, and one block in just under 22 minutes of playing time.



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