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DTL
05-07-2002, 06:58 PM
NYT link (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/07/sports/basketball/07ARAT.html)
Petrovic: An Athlete of the World
May 7, 2002, New York Times
By HARVEY ARATON

Ario Miocic still calls Willis Reed to reminisce, to wonder what might have been and just recently, and most therapeutically, to speculate on what could be.

"Did you hear about Petro?" Miocic said to Reed, the New York basketball legend, when the news came late last month that Drazen Petrovic had been nominated to the Basketball Hall of Fame by the international committee.

Of course he had, responded Reed, himself a member of the hallowed Hall. Miocic could count on Reed to be in Springfield, Mass., next fall if "a guy Mario and I had a lot of love for" is among the inductees who will surely include Magic Johnson, the ultimate point guard.

Petrovic was more of a long-distance straight shooter, by way of Sibenik, Croatia, but had his own court vision and uncompromising leadership skills. Years before David Stern's global expansion resulted in a storming of the N.B.A. gates by Europeans and now even Asians with attitude, Petrovic told his friend, Miocic, who had immigrated to New York from Croatia in 1986:

"Mario, I never think, `Oh, good, I've opened the door to European players and now I am going to sit on the bench and be happy. I want to be a cornerstone of a team, a leader.' "




He had just about arrived, as a third-team all-league selection with the Reed-built Nets, when he died in a car accident on a rain-slicked German autobahn before the start of the 1993 N.B.A. finals. Drazen Petrovic was 28, in the morning of his adult life, beginning the prime of his career and a national sports hero back home.

In Croatia, Miocic said yesterday by telephone from his home in Miami, the Petrovic name is still more revered than merely respected, as evidenced by Goran Ivanisevic's dedication of his Wimbledon title last summer to the guy Miocic said "showed Croatia what it means to be a great professional athlete of the world."

Basketball fans there still cheer these new Nets and imagine the aging Petrovic running the floor with the magical and munificent Jason Kidd. He surely was one of the game's fiercest workers, but if Petrovic were alive today, more than playing or beholding in the wonderment of a winning Nets team, he would be filled with pride by the power of his leaguewide legacy, the ever-expanding collection of international impact players.

Dirk Nowitzki of Germany is the franchise player in Dallas. Yugoslavia's Peja Stojakovic is a go-to guy in Sacramento. Spain's Pau Gasol is the first rookie of the year from Europe. With financial tariffs, the Chinese are exporting the towering Yao Ming next season, and he is the intriguing prize of the coming N.B.A. draft.





"The coaches overseas all studied under guys like Dean Smith and Bobby Knight," Reed said. "If they said they wanted something done their way, it's not like their players could say, `I'll go play where I can do what I want.' They are ahead of our kids in the offensive fundamentals and they've seen they can be stars, and that all started with Petro."

Petrovic wasn't the first to come, but he was the one to transfer direct from the European leagues and confound the schools of thought that international players could be role players at best and that the white N.B.A. star was a dying breed.

He paid his dues the way most intruders in xenophobic territory do, by enduring those skeptical and small-minded. Opponents and even teammates who couldn't find Croatia on the map if it were blinking sneered at his confident swagger. John Starks of the Knicks called him a "trash-talker with an accent" and before one tip-off made some untoward comment about complicity in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. Danny Ainge, who played with Petrovic on his first N.B.A. team, the Portland Trail Blazers, once told me that Petrovic had confided a belief that his nationality had kept him out of the 1992-93 All-Star Game.

"He suffered," Miocic said. "But Drazen was very strong. He kept going, until the end."

Even after Petrovic died, Miocic would stand in the runway leading to the locker rooms during Nets home games with an approving nod from Reed, now the club's senior vice president. Miocic now works in real estate in South Florida but still relishes the days when he and Petrovic would go out for dinner at a Croatian restaurant in Long Island City, or stop by a church on the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel.

He doesn't forget, and all these new-age Europeans flying across his television screen make him smile at the memories and at the prospect of Petrovic's deserved enshrinement as his everlasting reward.

Fidel
05-07-2002, 08:06 PM
Drazen!! Probably my 2nd favorite player of all time. I have a lot of tapes of him. The best one is his 62 points (in just 38 mins) game in the euro cup finals in 1990. He played for Real Madrid back then.
http://www.dom.avalon.hr/petro/gallery/sire/real2.jpg

http://www.dom.avalon.hr/petro/gallery/sire/real4.jpg
Against the Celtics at McDonalds Open.

http://www.dom.avalon.hr/petro/gallery/osob/osob10.jpg

http://www.dom.avalon.hr/petro/gallery/nets/max.jpg
Scoring 44 against Houston.

http://www.dom.avalon.hr/petro/gallery/nets/nets1.jpg

http://www.dom.avalon.hr/petro/gallery/rep/jordan.jpg
Scoring game high 24 against original Dream Team.

He deserves to be a hall of famer so much!
RIP Drazen Petrovic.

Drbio
05-07-2002, 08:13 PM
how'd he die?

OzMavs
05-07-2002, 08:40 PM
doc, this might answer your question:



<< He had just about arrived, as a third-team all-league selection with the Reed-built Nets, when he died in a car accident on a rain-slicked German autobahn before the start of the 1993 N.B.A. finals. Drazen Petrovic was 28, in the morning of his adult life, beginning the prime of his career and a national sports hero back home. >>

Drbio
05-07-2002, 08:56 PM
geez....I read right over that the first time.

mea culpa.

StrangeBrew13
05-07-2002, 11:39 PM
It makes me sad all over again to read that story. Petro was one of my favorite players of the early 90's &amp; he was truly light years ahead of his Euro counterparts.

http://www.nba.com/nets/history/drazenpetrovic.html

As evidenced by his shooting %'s and point totals, Petro could flat out score and he will always deserve consideration amongst the great Euro players of all-time.

For his career, he shot over 50% from the field, .437% from 3pt and .841% FT

Fidel
05-08-2002, 07:08 AM
<< He had just about arrived, as a third-team all-league selection with the Reed-built Nets, when he died in a car accident on a rain-slicked German autobahn before the start of the 1993 N.B.A. finals. Drazen Petrovic was 28, in the morning of his adult life, beginning the prime of his career and a national sports hero back home. >>


Yep, very sad. He was in germany to play in the european championships, that were just about to start when he died.