BIRTH NAME: Mario Hezonja
BIRTHDAY: February 25th, 1995
ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Pisces
Hezonja began playing basketball for Dubrovnik at the age of 13. He later signed with the Croatian team Zagreb, with whom he won the Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament.
The number one song on Billboard 100 was "Take A Bow" by Madonna the day Hezonja was born.
No Thanks To College Offer
Hezonja had a scholarship offer from Coach John Calipari to play at Kentucky. Could you imagine what Kentucky’s team would’ve been like with the addition of Hezonja during the 2014-15 season? He would have been paired with Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles. But, Hezonja had set his sights on the NBA.
Strong Portland Connection
As the Trail Blazers get ready for the 2019-20 season, younger Blazer fans should know –
Hezonja is going to wear No. 44 this season, a tribute to Croatian great and former Trail Blazer and Hall of Famer Drazen Petrovic.
Petrovic wore No. 44 in Portland. Drazen's brother, Aleksandar, coached Hezonja on their country’s national team.
“Obviously the greatest European player of all time,” Hezonja said during his introductory news conference with the Blazers. “It’s out of respect to him. The journey continues in his name right now. I’m glad I’m the leader of the journey right now. Carrying my entire country with it.”
Hezonja’s passing skills were modeled after Petrovic.
Just for fun here’s a throwback video to some of Petrovic’s career highlights:
The Mario GOAT Meme
Last season, Hezonja found himself on a meme that quickly went viral.
March 17th’s one-point victory over the Lakers was no ordinary game for the Knicks and for Hezonja.
The New York Knicks forward — who yes also dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo and then stepped over the Greek Freak last December — had blocked LeBron James’ game-winner attempt in that win over the Lakers.
This photo was snapped after Hezonja committed a foul on King James earlier in the contest, so it’s not the photo of him blocking the LeBron’s game winner, however, it’s kind of a perfect summary of that night.
This is definitely a photo all Trail Blazer fans can get behind.
Best Advice As A Rookie
According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, some of the best advice Hezonja received during his rookie season with the Magic came from former NBA player and a legend in the European basketball world, Peja Stojakovic.
Stojakovic offered this advice: 'Just shut up and work.'
"We talked about the transition," Hezonja said. "You know how the older guys are: 'Just shut up and work.' That's the best advice from everybody. So that's what I'm doing."