Mirotic's first: end to his drought as a Barça player

The power forward had lost three finals (two in the Super Cup and one in the League) with the Barça shirt. In Madrid he was finally able to retaliate.


Barcelona won the Copa del Rey 2021, at the WiZink in Madrid. The first title of the Jasikevicius era and the first as a Barça player for Niko Mirotic, the great signing of the club in the summer of 2019 and that ended his particular curse as a Barça player.

Mirotic has been at Barcelona for a season and a half, the great signing of the European market in the summer of 2019 and a strategic move by the Barça club at a very delicate moment in the section, one that also made Real Madrid's social base, the club where Mirotic had played since the summer of 2005, when he reached the junior ranks at just 14 years old. Now he just turned 30.

Del Madrid left, after two painful Euroleague finals lost to Olympiacos and Maccabi (the white club were champions the following season, 2014-15), to pursue their NBA dream. And he did well: Chicago Bulls, New Orleans Pelicans and Milwaukee Bucks. In the summer of 2019, however, he chose to return to Europe but it was what he and his family had decided. He came close to signing with a high-aspirational team like the Utah Jazz, but eventually chose to make the trip back to the ACB.

In his first spell at Real Madrid, Mirotic had won a League (2013), two Cups (2012, 2014) and two Super Cups (2012, 2013). And he had gone MVP of League (2013) and Cup (2014). In that section he became one of the great players in Europe, and was also important with the Spanish National Team in the bronze of Rio 2016 and the gold of the Eurobasket 2015 conquered in France.

But, until now, luck had not smiled on him at Barça. He was MVP of the 2019-20 ACB League, but he did not yet have a great title as a Barça player to add to his record. Its first season was marked by the arrival of the pandemic, and the interruption of competitions. He had lost two options to win a title, first in the Super Cup final in which Barça could not beat Real Madrid and then in the Cup, in which the Catalans fell in the quarterfinals against Valencia Basket. After the break, the Euroleague could not be resumed, and Barça came as a great favorite to the final phase of the League, in the Valencia bubble, but crashed in the final against Baskonia, who won with a final basket of Lucas Vildoza.

At the beginning of this season, and with Sarunas Jasikevicius on the bench, Barça lost the Super Cup again, again in the final against Real Madrid. They were, therefore, three lost finals for Mirotic, two against his former team, Pablo Laso's Madrid. In addition, the Spaniard of Montenegrin origin had not been at his best, especially in the final of the ACB, where he started very well at the start of the match and then disappeared completely in a nightmare afternoon. He ended up eliminated with fouls and with only 8 points (6 at the start of the game), 1 rebounds, a -1 valuation and 30% in field goals with a 0/5 in triples. In the first Super Cup, he added 14 points and 6 rebounds for a PIR of 12. In the second he was better: 22 + 7 and 26 valuation but he was not successful in an even final in which he decided a triple by Facu Campazzo. Then Mirotic, who did not score in the last three and a half minutes, missed another triple (72-67 final) .

In this final he was not MVP (an award won by a spectacular Higgins) but he played very good minutes, especially at the start and when Barça broke the game in the first half. He went to the locker room before the break because he was hit and his presence was much less prominent in the second half, while his team controlled Real Madrid's comeback attempts.

This season, Mirotic is targeting Euroleague MVP. Barcelona is the leader after 24 games (17-7) and the power forward is the most valued player (21.8 on average by Mike James' 21.1). He is fifth in points (16.3) and fourth in rebounds 86.2). In the Endesa League, he averages a PIR of 21.5 with 17 points and 5.1 rebounds on average. In the Cup, he added 16 points in the quarterfinals against Unicaja and another 16 in the semifinals against Baskonia. In the final, he added 12 points and 5 rebounds for a PIR of 15.

Photos from as.com
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