Sure, it has all been said before. Drazen Petrovic was an amazing talent — a superb member of the pioneering group of European players making a mark in the NBA, after stellar international play.
His praises may have been sung here before, but it still concerns me that younger generations of basketball fans will fail to realise what they have missed out on. And every time I watch footage of Petro, my awe re-ignites.
The former Croatian star had a unique ability to put points on the board — in a hurry. He did it in a way that made the game look fun too. He was one of those guys who slots the ball into the hoop with a sweet mid-range jumper, then follows it up with a dagger three point shot. Just ask Michael Jordan and the Dream Team, against which Petrovic managed to pile up 24 points (a game-high) in a losing Gold Medal game effort at the 1992 Olympic Games. His team may have not won, but Team USA had few answers for the class of the 27-year old shooting guard. (Sure, if the stories are true, MJ, Barkley & Co spent plenty of time on the blackjack tables between games and still managed to win every game, but they were called the Dream Team for a reason).
Whilst Petrovic’s early days in the NBA were quiet, where he saw limited minues with the Portland Trail Blazers, a move to the New Jersey Nets saw a bonafide superstar emerge. In his final season in the NBA, before his untimely death in Poland, the Croat averaged 22.3ppg (11th in the league). Despite not being named an All-Star, he did receive the deserved honour of All-NBA Third Team.
There is so much more to the story of Drazen Petrovic. If you are a basketball fan who is unaware of this former star who died in 1993, you need to acquaint yourself with his wikipedia entry and watch his highlights on youtube. In particular, one youtube user “CroPETROForever” comes up with new clips all the time.
Watch this latest video Drazen Petrovic – Basketball Mozart II and go from there. His prime years were not seen by the basketball world, but the years we did see were of a very high quality.