|Born||November 17, 1960|
St. Louis, Missouri
|Listed height||6 ft 11 in (2.11 m)|
|Listed weight||245 lb (111 kg)|
|High school||De Smet Jesuit|
(Creve Coeur, Missouri)
|NBA draft||1983 / Round: 1 / Pick: 2nd overall|
|Selected by the Indiana Pacers|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||5,323 (13.2 ppg)|
|Rebounds||3,131 (7.8 rpg)|
|Assists||938 (2.3 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
Stephen Samuel Stipanovich (born November 17, 1960) is an American retired professional basketball player. A 6-ft 11-inch (211 cm) center from the University of Missouri, Stipanovich was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the second pick of the 1983 NBA draft. Knee problems limited his career to five seasons, and he retired in 1988 with career totals of 5,323 points and 3,131 rebounds. At Missouri, (1979- 1983), he and Jon Sundvold helped Coach Norm Stewart to four consecutive Big 8 Conference Championships and NCAA tournament appearances.
Stephen Samuel "Stipo" Stipanovich, son of Sam and Elaine (née Ortmann) Stipanovich, was born and raised in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Sam Stipanovich co-owned a funeral home with his father-in-law, Al C. Ortmann, that is still in operation today.
Stipanovich is of Serbian and Croatian descent. His paternal grandmother Sadie was the daughter of Simo Visnic from Serbia and Milica Mamula from Karlovac, Croatia. Sadie married Theodore Stipanovic, whose family came from the same region. Visnic had come to the USA in 1905.
High school career
Coach "Grawer worked with me, and helped me develop the fundamental skills of basketball,” Stipanovich reflected. “By the time I was a senior, I was one of the most heavily recruited basketball players in the NCAA in 1979.”
Stipanovich played in the 1979 McDonald's All-American Game. The memorable rosters included: Sam Bowie, Antoine Carr, Quintin Dailey, Sidney Green, Clark Kellogg, Greg Kite, Sidney Lowe, John Paxson, Ralph Sampson, Byron Scott, Isiah Thomas, Dereck Whittenburg, Dominique Wilkins and James Worthy.
In 1979-1980 he was named Big Eight Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, averaging 14.4 points and 6.4 rebounds on 59% shooting. The Tigers finished 25-8, advancing to the sweet sixteen of the 1980 NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament.
“My favorite memory at Mizzou was during my freshman year in the NCAA tournament,” Stipanovich recalled. “In the tournament we played Notre Dame, a school which was considerably stronger than Mizzou. We were the underdogs, and yet we won the game. It was amazing.”
In 1981-1982, Missouri finished 27-4, capturing the Big 8 Title, with Stipanovich averaging 16.1 points, 6.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists. The Tigers lost 79-78 to Houston with Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon in the 2nd round of the 1982 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament.
As a senior in 1982-1983, Stipanovich averaged 18.4 points and 8.8 rebounds, and dominated the Big Eight Conference. In a nationally televised game, Stipanovich and teammate Greg Cavener combined to stop future NBA number one pick Ralph Sampson and upset top ranked Virginia, as Stipanovich scored 27 points with 12 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Stipanovich was both an academic All American and a first team All American selection his senior year. Missouri finished 26-8 and won their fourth straight Big 8 conference title.
Missouri won over 100 games and Stipanovich averaged 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 128 career games at Missouri. He played all four years alongside teammate and future NBA player Jon Sundvold.
Stipanovich was taken by the Pacers with the second overall pick of the 1983 NBA draft, behind Sampson. “People kept telling me I’d be the second pick,” Stipanovich reflected. “I didn’t really know for sure.” The Pacers teamed Stipanovich, with 6-11 Herb Williams and 6-7 Clark Kellogg, their first-round pick in 1982.
Stipanovich averaged 12.0 points and 6.9 rebounds en route to earning NBA All-Rookie Team honors in 1983-1984 under Coach George Irvine. "Stipo" would remain a fixture in the Pacers' starting lineup the next five seasons. From 1984–88, Stipanovich averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds, while starting 292 of his 322 games. Stipanovich scored at least 20 points in 62 times and never missed more than three games in his five years.
On October 20, 1985, Stipanovich and Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks were involved in a scuffle that left Ewing with an injured elbow and his arm in a sling. Ewing had elbowed Stipanovich in the face. Later, Stipanovich threw Ewing to the floor and jumped on him. Both team benches emptied, and the two had to be restrained from going after one another again. Ewing was fined $1500 and Stipanovich $750. Both were fined $250 for being ejected.
After four consecutive last-place finishes in 1983–1986, the Pacers made the 1987 NBA Playoffs, with a 41–41 record. Stipanovich averaged 13.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks under new coach Jack Ramsey. Playing alongside Chuck Person, Waymon Tisdale, Herb Williams, Clark Kellogg, Vern Fleming and John Long, it was the franchise's second postseason appearance since merging into the NBA in 1976. Stipanovich scored a team-high 22 points with 13 rebounds in a Game 1 loss at the Atlanta Hawks. He averaged 13.8 points and 7.5 rebounds in the series, as the Pacers won their first ever NBA playoff game in Game 3, but ultimately lost the series in four games.
Stipanovich played only one more season after the playoff trip, as the Pacers finished 38–44 in 1987–1988, with Stipanovich averaging 13.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.1 steals, playing 80 games in his final season.
Stipanovich missed the entire 1988–89 campaign due to a degenerative knee condition that didn't improve after surgery in November 1988. At the time, then Pacers General Manager Donnie Walsh called him the "fifth or sixth-best center in the league" and praised him for "holding his own against the best".
For his five-season NBA career, Stipanovich averaged 13.5 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals in 403 career games. Stipanovich shot 48.4% from the field and 79.6% from the line.
“The coaches who have worked with me pushed me beyond what I thought I could achieve”, Stipanovich said. “They took the time to teach me the fundamentals of basketball.”
Stipanovich and his wife Terri have six children, Kati, Kelli, Sadie, Hannah and two younger children.
Stipanovich has undergone 13 surgeries, including six on his left knee and four shoulder operations since his retirement.
Stipanovich was head girls basketball coach at Westminster Academy, leading the team to a 65-20 record over three seasons.“I just love coaching and being around my kids,” Stipanovich said. Two of his daughters played for him.
While in college, on December 27, 1980, Stipanovich accidentally discharged a loaded firearm, hitting himself in the shoulder. He initially told police that a masked intruder, broke into his apartment in Columbia, Missouri, and shot him while screaming obscenities about basketball players. The next day, Stipanovich recanted the story and admitted that he shot himself by accident. Stipanovich became a changed person after the incident, stating: "But that gun incident changed my life. Absolutely. It was in the past, and I had to look to the future. I mean, you can't unscramble eggs."
- Stipanovich was selected to the Mizzou Hall of Fame in 1990.
- Stipanovich's #40 jersey was retired by Missouri.
- Stipanovich was selected to the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.
- In 1999, Sports Illustrated magazine listed Stipanovich in "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Missouri."
- In 2001, Stipanovich was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
- In 2009, Stipanovich and Jon Sundvold were chosen as co-grand marshals of the Mizzou Homecoming Parade.
- "History - Our Story". Ortmann Funeral Home, Inc.
- "Reverberation Of A Gunshot". Sports Illustrated. December 21, 1981.
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- John W. Brown. Missouri Legends: Famous People From The Show-Me State, p. 258. Reedy Press, St. Louis, 2008.
- Post-Dispatch, Tom Klein St Louis. "Thirty years ago, a perfect season A DeSmet team led by Steve Stipanovich (right) went 32-0 during a win streak that reached 63 the next season, a state record for large schools. High school boys basketball". stltoday.com.
- Bernstein, Sophie (February 25, 2015). "A Basketball Legend".
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- Newman, Bruce. "They fill a tall order". Vault.
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- "1980-81 Missouri Tigers Roster and Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
- "1981-82 Missouri Tigers Roster and Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
- "1981-82 Missouri Tigers Schedule and Results". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
- Berkow, Ira (March 13, 1983). "Stipanovich, the Turmoil Past, Places Success in Perspective" – via NYTimes.com.
- "Steve Stipanovich College Stats". College Basketball at Sports-Reference.com.
- Cotton, Anthony. "Putting on the ritz in Indy". Vault.
- "apbr.org • View topic - Sunvold/Stipanovich". www.apbr.org.
- "Ewing Is Left Hurting After His Latest Scuffle". October 21, 1985 – via LA Times.
- "1987 NBA Eastern Conference First Round - Indiana Pacers vs. Atlanta Hawks". Basketball-Reference.com.
- "1986-87 Indiana Pacers Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
- "1987-88 Indiana Pacers Roster and Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
- "Indiana Pacers center Steve Stipanovich, who has yet to..." UPI.
- "Stipanovich Retires Due To Severe Knee Injury". Associated Press. September 29, 1989. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- "Where Are They Now? Steve Stipanovich". Indiana Pacers.
- "Sports People: PRO BASKETBALL; Stipanovich Retires Because of Bad Knee". September 29, 1989 – via NYTimes.com.
- Tribune, Chicago. "INJURY FORCES PACERS` STIPANOVICH TO RETIRE". chicagotribune.com.
- "Steve Stipanovich Stats". Basketball-Reference.com.
- "Stipanovich Continues Her Father's Basketball Legacy". slubillikens.com.
- "Mizzou's Steve Stipanovich back home". Mercy Ministries news website. 2011. Archived from the original on June 26, 2012. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- STLhighschoolsports.com, Scott Fitzgerald. "Westminster girls hoops coach Stipanovich steps down". stltoday.com.
- "Stipanovich lied about shooting". Nevada Daily Mail. December 29, 1980.
- "Steve Stipanovich". University of Missouri Athletics.
- "The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Missouri". Vault.
- "Steve Stipanovich". Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
- "MIZZOU Magazine - Grand marshals through the years". mizzoumagarchives.missouri.edu.
- "MIZZOU Magazine - Sitting in with Sundvold & Stipanovich". mizzoumagarchives.missouri.edu.