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The offbeat dreams of immigrants

 by Steve Payne

Author says: what if Karl Malden had played basket ball (his original career choice) on the streets of San Francisco? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

March 22nd 1912,

on this day the famous Serbian-American basketball player and coach Mladen G. Sekulovich1 was born in Chicago, Illinois.

He was raised in Gary, Indiana where by 1931, he was the star of the Emerson High School basketball team.

Due to his high level of contact he broke his nose twice while playing, taking elbows to the face which resulted in his trademark bulbous nose. After graduating, he left for the University of Arkansas where he won an athletic scholarship despite initial resistance from college officials because of his refusal to play any sport besides basketball.

After turning professional he launched a three decade long career with the San Francisco Warriors and was frequently to be seen coaching kids in the city. The end came abruptly in 1977 with a bad sequence of results following the resignation of his diminutive Belarusian-American star player Issur Danielovitch, Junior2 (pictured, left).

The coach himself graciously accepted the outcome, having known for many years that his role was to support great players, rather than to lead from the front. Sekulovich's father agreed, in fact he was delighted about his son's career being in San Francisco, as he had intended to settle the family in that city, but had to change his plans as he had arrived on the day of the 1906 earthquake.

Returning to his home city of Chicago, his son continued to play a meaningful coaching role in the community, working with some of the NBA Stars of the future, most famously the African-American Barry Soereto3 (pictured, right).


Author says 1) Malden often found ways to say "Sekulovich" in films and television shows in which he appears. For example, as General Omar Bradley in Patton, as his troops slog their way through enemy fire in Sicily, Malden says "Hand me that helmet, Sekulovich" to another soldier. In Dead Ringer, as a police detective in the squad room, Malden tells another detective: "Sekulovich, gimme my hat". In Fear Strikes Out, Malden, playing Jimmy Piersall's father John, introduces Jimmy to a baseball scout named Sekulovich. In Birdman of Alcatraz, as a prison warden touring the cell block, Malden recites a list of inmates' names, including Sekulovich. Malden's father was not pleased, as he told his son "Mladen, no Sekulovich has ever been in prison!" Perhaps the most notable usage of his real name was in the TV series The Streets of San Francisco. Malden's character in the program, Mike Stone, employed a legman (played by Art Metrano) with that name, who did various errands. Also, in On the Waterfront, in which Malden plays the priest, among the names of the officers of Local 374 called out in the courtroom scene is Mladen Sekulovich, Delegate.

2) Issur Danielovitch, Junior = Michael Douglas, whose departure from the show killed the ratings and caused its ultimate cancellation.

3) The family name of Barack Obama's stepfather in Jakarta. To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

Steve Payne, Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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