Predrag Stojakovic, commonly called Peja Stojakovic, is one of the most popular and successful professional basketball players to come out of Serbia in the history of the sport. Peja, a small forward born in Croatia, to Serbian parents, had a tumultuous childhood as his family was busy trying to escape the Yugoslav wars. Fleeing to Belgrade, Peja grew up with a love for basketball, making his way into the professional league with Red Star Belgrade.
In 1992-93, Peja had his first professional season with Red Star and his ability was unmistakably blatant as he led the team to the 1992-93 national championships. He moved to Greece in 1994 and became a Greek citizen, joining PAOK BC the same year.
Stojakovic was a humungous asset to PAOK BC and in his five seasons with the team, had many memorable moments including a match-winning last-second three-pointer that gave PAOK the win over arch-rivals Olympiacos during the semi-finals of the Playoffs. The win ended a five-year consecutive title winning run for Olympiacos as the champions of Greece and led PAOK to second place in the championships that season. In 1998, his final year with PAOK BC, Peja averaged 23.9 points per game with 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists while stealing at 1.2 per game.
Peja Stojakovic had already declared for the 1996 NBA Draft, while still playing for PAOK BC in Greece. After being signed at 14th overall, by the Sacramento Kings, Stojakovic was sent back to PAOK BC to continue playing there and gaining in experience. The Kings finally decided to bring him on before the 1998-99 lockout-marred season in the NBA.
Peja had two seasons on the bench, playing just 48 games in 1998-99 and 74 in 1999-2000. His figures were pretty average until the 2000-01 season when the world was introduced to the real Peja Stojakovic.