Basketball, the story of Drazen Petrovic


Basketball, the story of Drazen Petrovic. Twenty-nine years ago, on 7 June 1993, 28-year-old Croatian Drazen Petrovic, nicknamed “Mozart”, one of the strongest European basketball players of all time. He played both in Europe and in the NBA and is still remembered today by many basketball fans for his incredible plays, which were a mixture of great technique and elegance. Many experts agree that since then we have never seen a European player so successful and decisive: in his career he won 3 medals at the Olympics, 2 at the World Championships and 2 at the European Championships; he also won a Yugoslav league, 2 Cup Winners’ Cups and 2 European Cups, as well as numerous personal awards. Petrovic was born on October 22, 1964 in Šibenik, in present-day Croatia (it was still Yugoslavia at the time). After playing for the local team for several years, Petrovic moved to Cibona Zagreb, with which he won several national and European titles and became very famous throughout the world basketball scene. In the 1988/89 season Petrovic moved to Real Madrid, a team with which he won a Cup Winners’ Cup (competition reserved for national cup winners) against Snaidero Caserta. Nando Gentile, who was the strongest player on the Caserta team, told the site Sportal.it: “Drazen was one of the best in Europe, possibly the best ever. On the Athens night he alone scored 62 points. The stakes were very high, the environment was on fire and he made only one mistake in the whole game ».

Basketball, the story of Drazen Petrovic. The landing in the NBA

Petrovic joined the NBA in the 1989/90 season, and made his debut with the Portland Trail Blazers. In fact, the Blazers had already looked for him in 1984, when he was only 19 years old. Due to various travel restrictions imposed by Yugoslavia and rather rigid contractual ties with the European teams he played for, Petrovic was unable to move to the United States before 1989 (and in any case even in the year of his transfer he had several problems to free himself. from Real Madrid). His first year in the NBA was not very positive: Petrovic, like many other European players at the time, was physically weak and paid a lot for the physicality of American players. He moved to the New Jersey Nets in January 1991, where he was able to play more and better. In no time at all, he became one of the best outside shooters in the entire NBA, especially from the three-point line. At the end of the season, Petrovic returned to his country to lead Croatia, which had recently become independent, to win the silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the ones that went down in history for the victory of the “Dream Team”, the US national basketball team considered the strongest team of all time in all sports (to understand, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and John Stockton played in that team). Against the “Dream Team”, Petrovic was the best of his team, and among other things he managed to score 11 consecutive points, including the last 6 with two rather risky threes.

Basketball, the story of Drazen Petrovic. The end and the beginning of the legend

When the 1992/93 season began, Petrovic was still a Nets player: it was his best year, although during the playoffs he declared that he was not satisfied with the management of the company in New Jersey, and that he wanted to move to the Greek league. However, that was his last season: after going to Poland to face the qualifying round of the European Championships with the Croatian national team, Petrovic died of an accident against a truck, during a car trip with his girlfriend Klara Szalantzy (who was driving) while on his way to Munich. It is 5:20 pm, when Drazen Petrovic’s clock stops working. The basketball player flew out of the car and lost his life on impact. He ends his life, begins the myth of a player whose memory is handed down from generation to generation.

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