Croatia Marks 27 Years without Drazen Petrovic

Croatia Marks 27 Years without Drazen Petrovic
Drazen Petrovic Museum, Zagreb. Croatia Commons/Mozart/Andrea Cislaghi from Robbio Lomellina, Italia

June 7, 2020 - Just before the summer of 1993, a traffic accident on the highway near the German city of Ingolstadt deprived Croatia of one of the best athletes of all time - the one and only Drazen Petrovic.

June 7 was thus turned into a day of shock, sadness, and disbelief, and every June 7 that followed into a day of remembrance. 

The basketball genius had left an indelible mark globally, though we will never know his full impact since he was taken from us before he turned 30.

Drazen made his first basketball steps in his hometown of Sibenik, moved to Cibona in 1984, and the same year, won a bronze medal at the Olympic Games in Los Angeles. In the final of the European Cup against Real Madrid in 1985, Drazen scored 36 points, and Cibona took the Cup. Only a year later, with the Yugoslav national team, he won bronze at the World Cup in Spain.

In 1988, he signed for Real Madrid, the same team he scored 36 points against in the Cibona jersey. A year later, he left for the NBA to join the Portland Blazers, a club where he failed to show his skills. With the Yugoslav national team, he won silver at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, while in 1989, Drazen took the European title. At the 1990 World Cup in Buenos Aires, he also won his first gold in the Yugoslav jersey.

Drazen left Portland behind to continue his NBA story with the New Jersey Nets, where, among other above-average results, his average shot accuracy for three-pointers was 43.7%, which is still the fourth-highest score in the NBA, even 27 years since his last game. Until recently, Drazen held third place, though Seth Curry from the Mavericks jumped into second place this season.

Not long after his death, on November 11, 1993, Drazen's jersey number 3 was retired at the Nets Hall. In 1995, the Croatian Olympic Committee donated a monument to Drazen Petrovic to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, and the work of sculptor Vasko Lipovac was placed in the park in front of the Olympic Museum. In 2002, Drazen was posthumously admitted to the Springfield Basketball Hall of Fame, where he is still called the Croatian Mozart.

A museum-memorial center named after him was opened in Zagreb in 2006, and in the same year, the Croatian Olympic Committee named an award after Drazen Petrovic, intended exclusively for young athletes, men's and women's teams for outstanding sports results and sports development.

As life passes us by, Drazen continues to inspire. 

Source: Dalmacija Danas

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