It is every baller’s dream to play the highest level of basketball.
Some start on a long, meaningful trek to reach the NBA, EuroBasket, or other top-notch professional leagues in the world. Some dream to become a national team player and represent his country in the biggest stage of basketball like the FIBA World Cup or Olympics, and endure hardships along the way.
Most start their journey in the streets.
Some don’t make the cut because the reality is millions dream to become a superstar but only a handful make it to the supernova levels of stardom.
Serbians Dusan Domovic Bulut, 29, and Dejan Majstorovic, 27, are among those who had big ambitions for their basketball careers.
Although they did not find the answer in 5-on-5 basketball, they found a home they can call their own as 3×3 was recognized as a different sport at the start of the decade.
“FIBA recognized it, and there are more Championships, World Tours, European Cups, and soon hopefully it will be an Olympic game. That would be a dream come true for people like me and my group,” Bulut, the no. 1 ranked 3×3 player in the world, said.
Street-style 3-on-3 basketball is being played all over the world ever since, although it was only until the 2010 Youth Olympic Games when it became a separate sport and a formal discipline.
Since its inception, 3×3 hoops opened the floodgates for aspiring athletes and has provided a paradise for basketball players dreaming to be the best stars in the world.
Bulut and Majstorovic, the no. 2 ranked player in the planet, are the faces of Novi Sad, the reigning FIBA 3×3 World Tour winners and one of the best 3×3 teams ever assembled. The group also won the 2014 3×3 All Stars, a battle of champion teams from different 3×3 events organized by FIBA.
“Every sport wants to end up in the Olympic family. We players just do everything we need to play in an attractive and professional level. I think this sport has a massive future because you see the people watching. It’s fast, exciting, new, and urban,” Bulut said.
Bulut and Majstorovic are also part of the Serbian national 3×3 basketball team which won silver at the 2014 3×3 World Championships.
Bulut and his other two teammates Marko Savic and Marko Zdero in fact grew up in the same neighborhood, and have been friends since childhood. They all carried the same passion for hoops, and while never found the chance to star in 5-on-5 competition, 3×3 has paved the way for their progress and stardom.
“In Serbia, 3-on-3 is like a mass recreation. For us, it is unbelievable somebody recognized the sport as a separate sport. We all used to play professionally in 5-on-5 but when summer comes, we just go back to regular street ball,” Bulut shared.
“Any goal you have accomplished in life is a special feeling. At the end of the day, it is progress. It is a great feeling to do something to love best. I am thankful for those who appreciate that and I hope we continue to grow with the sport.”
Majstorovic himself is thankful that he is now receiving massive attention because of the sport; like millions, it was his dream to play in the FIBA World Cup or EuroBasket. But being part of the 3×3 circle keeps him motivated as he is expected to do well.
“I am thankful for this sport. My dream is to always play for Serbia’s national 5-on-5 team, but I don’t make it too good in 5-on-5, but now I have a chance to play because of 3-on-3,” he said. “If there are too many people watching you, you are motivated to do all you can, to show good skills, and enjoy.”
Playing 3×3 is now their full-time professions. Novi Sad players are receiving sponsorships from world-famous products and they enjoy every single minute of showcasing their wares in the 3×3 stage.
“We can say we are 3×3 professionals now. We found good sponsors. We used to play basketball in Serbia but the economy is not that good. So for me, playing in a high level tournament all over the world, it does not get better than that,” Bulut added. “My goal is just to be better than our next opponent. Every next opponent. You will never know when will you get injured. My vision is to enjoy every second of every game for [the rest of] my life.”
Bulut and Majstorovic are proud of what they have accomplished — achievements no one can take away from them.
They hope to inspire other people, and dreams of a brighter future for the sport.
“We just hope it will be an Olympic game in 2020. We just hope,” Majstorovic said.
As the 3×3 World Tour slogan goes, it’s definitely “from the streets to the world stage” for both.