Musa not afraid to talk the talk
ZARAGOZA (2016 FIBA U17 World Championship) - Dzanan Musa's game on the basketball court is very loud, helping Bosnia and Herzegovina to second place in Group D at the 2016 FIBA U17 World Championship. But the potential superstar is also not afraid to be vocal about his goals and dreams.
"This is the main door for the NBA so I'm all-in and I have to show that I'm at that level. I have to play at the highest level to be in the NBA," Musa said. "In the next 10 years, I want to be like Steph Curry, LeBron James and reach over Michael Jordan in NBA rings. I always want to win titles. I want to go over Kobe Bryant. I want to go over Michael Jordan. Go over everything because I'm that kind of player. I always want more."
While it's not an NBA ring, Musa does already have one major trophy to his credit, winning the 2015 FIBA U16 European Championship - arguably the country's greatest sporting result.
Musa collected 33 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks and hit the big three-pointer late to give Bosnia an 85-83 victory over Lithuania in the Final – in front of 5,000 strong in the Zalgiris Arena in Kaunas.
"That was amazing - 5,000 people were cheering against us. In the first row was the Lithuania senior team, (Jonas) Valanciunas and the rest. It was amazing," Musa said. "When I scored the crucial three I was like, hey man, you scored the three to win the European Championship, you're not here. I wasn't there when I hit that three. I didn't feel like I was playing basketball. I thought I was at home in bed. I was in the sky."
That led Musa to receiving the MVP trophy from the legendary Arvydas Sabonis.
"It was amazing when Arvydas Sabonis came over to me and told me, 'Man you're something special.' Oh (big smile and laugh)… I was like … Arvydas told me that. That whole tournament was amazing to me."
Just as amazing was the hero's welcome in Sarajevo, where 50,000 people gathered to celebrate their young new idols.
"When we were in the airplane half an hour before we landed on Bosnian territory we were all quiet and nobody was talking," Musa remembered. "When we came out and saw those people, we knew that we were European champions. We didn't know it that night when we actually won. We didn't feel it. But when we came home and became even bigger stars that was amazing."
The pictures made their way around the continent and beyond and was a fairytale story in sports. Fast forward less than a year to Zaragoza and Musa is expressing his frustration at the U17 Worlds for the lack of fan support from back home following a 19-point loss to France in group play.
"It's motivation because the people in Bosnia are saying that we suck and this and that. They say we are flashy guys, we are nothing. That's too bad. I'm disappointed," the Bosnian captain said. "There are people here and some in Bosnia too who really truly love us and they showed that here. We played for them and not for those haters."
Musa says he and his teammates are taking the absent support from back home and using it to help motivate them. The Bosnians still picked up two victories in the group and next take on Australia in the Round of 16.
"This is the first U17 World Championship for Bosnia and Herzegovina and I thought that we were the best team in the group but we had a bad game against France. They punished us at different levels and we didn't compete," Musa said. "To be successful, we just have to play with heart. That's the main thing. And believe in each other."
Musa has been dominant in Zaragoza, averaging 29.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, including 36 points, 11 rebounds and 2 assists against Korea.
You can call that Musa doing Musa things. Now we just have to see how Musa walks the walk after already talking the talk.