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This Croatian professional basketballer has thrived in NBA as much as he has on the international scene representing his country. While it has been a tough call to tell exactly when Mario Hezonja’s romance with this handball game started, it is known that he was already making major headway in the game at the age of 12. Let’s learn more about the small forward.
Who Is Mario Hezonja?
Everyone who keeps close tabs with basketball games has probably heard the name Mario Hezonja. The Croatian professional basketballer plays for the New York Knicks of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
He may be living in the United States but he is no American. Mario Hezonja hails from Dubrovnik, Croatia which was where he was born on the 25th of February and in the year 1995. This explains why he is an international representative of the Croatian national team. Want to know more about this guy? Come with us…
5 Facts You Need To Know About The B-baller
1. The Genesis and Pre NBA Professional Timeline
Mario’s affair with balls and net trails back to the good old days. He began playing basketball when he was still a young chap. At the tender age of 12, he was elevated to the club level back in Croatia. He played for his native team Dubrovnik for two seasons before he signed a contract with another Croatian club Zagreb in 2010
His professional career began sometime in July 2012 when he signed a 3 years contract with the Spanish club Barcelona. He played temporarily with the reserve team of the Barcelona club and soon got the opportunity to participate in the EuroLeague for the first time. It wasn’t much of an appearance though. He played only two games and scored an average of 2.5 points and 2 rebounds in each game. Mario Hezonja sustained an injury during the game and sadly, could not afford to play more games. He even had to turn down the invitation to be part of the world team at the Nike Hoop Summit.
The Croatian became a constant player on the Barcelona team during the 2013-14 season of the EuroLeague but was only allowed to play for few minutes. He began to have more frequent appearances the next season and it helped him improve his game a great deal.
2. Off To The NBA
Mario’s debut in NBA was in 2015. After Barcelona was eliminated in the EuroLeague he indicated his interest for that year’s NBA draft. Mario was eventually recruited into the NBA with the 5th overall pick in the 1st round of the 2015 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. Making a total of 79 appearances, he rounded off his first NBA season (2015–16) with an average score of 6.6 points, 2.2 rebounds, and 1.4 assists.
The next season (2016-17), Orlando Magic brought Frank Vogel as their new coach. Most of Mario’s games under Vogel didn’t look good and the new coach had to reduce his play time. The 2017–18 season didn’t kick off well for the Croatian and although he soon picked up, the Magic didn’t pick up his fourth-year option. Mario Hezonja now plays for the New York Knicks, he joined the side in July 2018.
3. Health Challenges
Mario Hezonja has been up in his game, improving at every tick of the clock. But it hasn’t been without a struggle. Mario has fought few health battles which threatened his career in the past. In 2011, the B-baller got infected with mononucleosis (glandular fever) virus. As such, he was held back from playing in the 2011-2012 season of his junior career.
Then, in the 2012-2013 season of the EuroLeague, he sustained an injury in one of the games. This reduced his efficiency and as such he only appeared in a few games.
4. Awards and Laurels
Despite not being in the sports scene for too long, the basketball star has bagged several laurels. In 2011, he won the Nike International Junior Tournament. He also won the FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship and the Sportske Novosti award for Fair Play all in 2011. The next year, he was named to FIBA Under-17 World Cup All-Tournament Team.
That’s not all, he also won the Spanish League Championship in 2014.
5. Salary, Net Worth, and Body Stats
The basketball star earns over $3 million as salary and his net worth is in piles of millions of US dollars, although no figure has been attached to it.
The young player is one of the Croatia national team players. He was one of the team players who participated in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Mario also played for his nation at the EuroBasket 2015 and at the 2016 Summer Olympics where they came 5th place. He weighs 218 lb and is 6 feet and 8 inches tall.
Bonus Fact – His Family and Love Life
Mario has done quite well for himself in his chosen profession, earning numerous fans and admires while at it. In view of that, it’s only normal that people desire to know more about his family and personal life in general. Yes! His fans want to know what he is like without the jersey on.
Unfortunately, all efforts to learn more about the private life of the NBA star has almost always been met with disappointments. While it is known that his parents Ronald and Petrica Hezonja are among the most important people in his life, other details of his life outside the court remains a mystery.
Is he straight or gay? Does he have a girlfriend or wife? Any children? Hardly can anyone tell if he even has any siblings and in the same manner, it is not known if this bloke has any dame in his life.