?Croatian Mozart? was born in Sibenka (Croatia) on October 22 1964, in beautiful city at the Adriatic seaside. He had beautiful childhood among parents (father Jole and mother Biserka) and 5 years older brother Aco ? but even then the orange ball was everything ? the only toy and the only passion. The little kid from Preradoviceva Street didn?t have any dilemma ? basket or nothing!
?He was an idol to many players. I am sure that there is no man on the World who loves basketball like Drazen did? ? J.A. Samaranch
But, that was some other time ? time for romances ? all kind of romances. Kids didn?t have computers, video games, TVs were privilege ? but, basketball rim? it was everywhere?
Two brothers, one ball, and million wishes around a wooden basket board. In early childhood Aco Petrovic and Drazen couldn?t imagine anything better then running with the ball in their hands during whole days. That was life? and that was the beginning?
1972 will be remembered as a year, when KK Sibenka got 2 new kids on the training. One of them simply needed 4 hands. 500 points in 6 AM were usual training before school. Team training in the evening and 200 shoots after training? every day? Rain was not a favorite subject, because then, his shirt was wet all the time?
With only 14 years (1978) Drazen made debut on Sibenka?s bench when this team played in second league. Only one year later (1979) Sibenka qualified for the big Yugoslavian first league ? one of the strongest in Europe. This was the year when Petrovic won his first medal ? bronze on Croatian cadet championship ? and first individual trophy ? he was MVP.
On December 29 1979 Petrovic scored first points for Sibenka, in first league against OKK Belgrade (6th round). That was period when Drazen was sharing minutes with Serbian playmaker legend Moka Slavnic who was a coach-player in Sibenka. Slavnic was the first man who gave chance to Petrovic to play, even Drazen was only 15.
?I don?t share players on young and old. You are good, or you are not good. Drazen is already more then good? ? Slavnic said then.
Historic moment in autumn 1980, Drazen lost with Sibenka cadet Yugoslavian championship final (before that year Sibenka and Drazen won Croatian cadet championship). But at the same day, later in the evening, Petrovic played for senior team in match against Bosna and performed magnificently, really crazy, but historic decision by Slavnic.
When Slavnic left Sibenka in 1981, playmaker?s position was empty and that meant that Drazen will get a chance to play every minute in every single game.
In first season in Europe with Sibenka, Drazen played in the final of Radivoje Korac Cup (semi-final duel against Rietti was sensational ? Sibenka made a come back after -18 in the first half) and lost in legendary final game in Padova against Limoges after overtimes. Again, he is MVP.
Next year, 1982, Drazen already established himself as one of the most perspective players in Europe, and almost one of the best in Yugoslavia ? he was only 18 when another final of Radivoje Korac Cup came and another loss against Limoges came with it. Drazen played that match with an injured eye, but can you imagine a kid who is so young and already a leader of team who played 2 European finals in a row?
Season 1982/1983 was the most controversial one in Yugoslavian history. Drazen scored 39 pts in the final of the Yugoslavian Championship game against Bosna (April 9 1983) and brought simply alone the title to Sibenka (Vlado Djurovic was the coach in Sibenka then). But administrative organization of National association decided to disqualify this result and said that the last points (Petrovic from free throws line) were scored after the final buzzer. Sibenka decided not to go to a special match on neutral field for title and never gave back their gold medals. Officially, national association simply stolen them this title.
In 4 Sibenka years, Petrovic was scoring averagely: 0.8 pts in season (1978/79), 2 pts in season 1979/80, 16.3 pts in season 1980/81 and 24.5 pts in season 1981/82.
Next year Drazen Petrovic left Sibenka and went to Cibona. Sibenka officials offered him an apartment and caf?, but sport motive was too big (plus political pressure from communists that apartment is not proper gift mixed with Drazen?s wish to go to Zagreb, so their decision was that he can go to Cibona for free).
?I must listen to my basketball instinct. I have 1000 reasons to stay, but I mustn't listen to my emotions? ? Drazen said.
About at the same time, Drazen made debut for Yugoslavian National team. In 1982 he won silver medal on U18 European Championship, and that was the year when Bogdan Tanjevic (NT head-coach) showed once more what instinct he had and called Drazen to play for senior squad. That was June 21 1982 ? opponent for history page: Italy.
Why Drazen signed for Cibona? He could sign for any Yugoslav club + several USA colleges (Notre Dame was a real option - 'Digger' Phelps came personally to persuade him to go to America). But, obviously that his hart was in Croatia, near his brother who already became a star in Zagreb and Cibona; Cibona won that year title in National Championship and fact that club will play in the Euroleague (Champions Cup back then) was also important. Team from Zagreb had terrible season in Europe that year with a 0-10 record, and they needed special injection.
Those 4 years made him a legend in Zagreb, but he deserved any single word said in his glory.
Drazen decided for Cibona wile he was with National team and preparing for Olympic Games in Los Angeles. He was only 20 years old, but enough for bronze medal in match against Spain.
First thing Drazen did in Cibona was to score 56 pts against Sibenka.
?It wasn?t so difficult. On the court, I don?t know anyone. I will give them 56 again next time if needed? ? Drazen said.
But, first year in Cibona was unrepeatable and it is very difficult to describe it by words. Cibona opened European competition with an incredible win against Real Madrid in Zagreb; Drazen scored 44 pts. In that first season 1984/85 Cibona won everything. National title (2-1 in series with Red Star, 32 pts in last game), National Cup (against Jugoplastika, 39 pts), and, at the end, culmination was a European title in unforgettable final in Athens against Real Madrid on April 3 1985.
Drazen scored 38 pts (14-14 from free throws line) and royal club was on knees.
Next whole week Cibona didn?t have any single training. They were celebrating like in trance and Partizan waiting for important win in Zagreb. What to say? Cibona scored 72 pts only in first half?
Next year was also sensational one. In match against Olimpija (5.10.1985), Drazen made record for all times and scored 112 pts, but it must be said that Olimpija played with junior squad. 112 points!!! Rest of the team scored 46 pts!
During that season Drazen played several fascinating matches in Europe: against Simac 47 pts, against Limoges 51 pts (8 triples in a row!)?
Again final match for European title ? opponents are Zalgiris and Sabonis ? USSR Champions. 22 pts by Petrovic, 5 fouls from Sabonis in the first half ? second title in a row for Cibona.
But, that was some other time ? there were no contracts between FIBA and the clubs, Cibona lost Yugoslavian title in match against Zadar and didn?t qualify for the best European competition for next year. European champions will not defend their title?
But, how they lost that play-off duel against Zadar? Believe or not, but Drazen acted that he was injured and didn?t want to play in Zadar because he wanted to win title in Zagreb, in front of Cibona fans, and not on away court in Zadar. But, Zadar made absolutely incredible result in Zagreb in last game and won! Vlado Djurovic, coach of Zadar then, made really unbelievably job? Again history?
1986 was a year when Petrovic gained full affirmation in National team. In one of the most beautiful games ever in semi finale of World Championship in Spain 1986, Yugoslavia lost against USSR even Yugoslavs had advantage of 9 pts 50 seconds till the end. But, Divac made 2 terrible mistakes and Sabonis, Tikhonenko, Valtersand and co. were shooting triples like in trance. "La Gazette dello Sport" elected Drazen Petrovic for the best player of that championship.
In 1987 Cibona won European Cup of cups (this competition does not exist anymore ? it was competition between National Cup winners) in final against Scavolini in Novi Sad (Petrovic 28 pts), but they lost National title again even they had an amazing record during regular season 22-0. But, again Vlado Djurovic was fatal for Cibona, this time on Red Star bench. Branimir Prelevic made real show in Belgrade and Zagreb and took title from Cibona. Red Star lost later in the final against Partizan. That was the year when Nikos Galis and Yannakis had a season from dreams and took European title with Greece in Athens. Drazen Petrovic and Yugoslavia were third.
But, don?t forget what Petrovic already achieved and he is only 23.
1988 was the last year in Cibona?s shirt. Title escaped once more (Partizan (with Divac, Djordjevic, Paspalj) better in semi-final series; Jugoplastika (with Kukoc, Radja, Perasovic, Ivanovic) was champion). Drazen couldn?t win in Radivoje Korac Cup third time in career. After 2 losses with Sibenka against Limoges in finals, he lost once more, this time with Cibona against Real Madrid. In Madrid, Cibona lost by 13 pts and that was too much. In rematch Drazen scored 47 pts (8 triples) ? but obviously not enough.
With national team Drazen won silver medal in Seoul on Olympic Games.
25 April 1988 was a date when Drazen played the last game for Cibona ? against Partizan (13 pts).
In 106 official games for Cibona, Drazen Petrovic scored 3911 pts and 1689 more in European competitions. That makes him 3rd best in Cibona?s history (Plecas and Knego are on first 2 positions).
In 4 Cibona years, Petrovic was scoring averagely:
1984/85: 32.2 pts in domestic league and 30.9 pts in Europe
1985/86: 43.3 pts in domestic league and 37.0 pts in Europe,
1986/87: 37.2 pts in domestic league and 33.8 pts in Europe,
1987/88: 37.6 pts in domestic league and 33.4 pts in Europe
Drazen Petrovic signed for Real Madrid for 1,500,000$ and brand new Porsche. But that Porsche was stolen from him in the middle of Zagreb few months after and that is, even now, huge shame for capital city of Croatia.
It was great fight between Barcelona and Real Madrid to sign Petrovic, but crucial fact was friendship between Mirko Novosel and Antonio Arizago. Petrovic decided for Real on direct initiative by Mirko Novosel. But, it is important to say that Real had awful record against Cibona during Petrovic?s period in Zagreb (0-5, Petrovic was scoring an average of more then 40 pts in those matches).
Drazen already was the best European player in that moment, and only the sky was limit.
Petrovic spent only one year in Real, but whole town remembers him as he was there for whole life.
?He is the biggest star who ever played for Real? ? Ramon Mendoza, Real Madrid?s president.
Real haven't won the title ? Barcelona took it in final even Drazen played like in dreams. 8 triples in second game, 42 pts in 4th game ? not enough.
But, one match will stay in annals: final of European Cup of cups and match against Snaidero from Caserta. Match was decided after overtimes, Petrovic scored 62 pts (in words: sixty two points!) ? for 2:14-12, for 3:15-8, for 1: 15-14, with 4 rebounds and 5 assists? history again? and big trophy for Real?
It will be remembered forever one scene from semi-final duel against Cibona in Zagreb when Petrovic played against ex club. Cibona was leading 91:90 and Drazen had 2 free throws even time was up. His brother Aco (still played in Cibona) came to him and asked him to miss; actually he was begging him to miss. But, Drazen only smiled and scored both for 92:91 and victory.
Europe was not enough anymore? only sky was the limit? and NBA had that look with Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins, Karl Malone, Olajuwon, Drexler and Charles Berkley?
Petrovic won European title with Yugoslavia in Zagreb (1989), left everything and went to the USA?
Drazen Petrovic was drafted in third round as 60th pick overall in 1989 by Portland Trailblazers. When he signed 4 years contract with Real Madrid it looked that NBA story was finished. But, Portland made great pressure to sign him after his first year in Madrid. Huge money was in the game for that period. At the end everything ended more then fast. Portland paid 3,600,000$ (1,150,000$ to Real Madrid ? the same money which Memphis gave later for Gasol and Detroit for Milicic ? but almost 15 years later). Petrovic packed and left Europe.
The period in Portland was simply a black period for Drazen. Coach Rick Adelman (now in Sacramento Kings) didn?t give him real chance. Is it possible that he didn?t know what diamond he had? Petrovic played only in the end of matches, and even with that fact he was scoring 7.6 pts per game in rookie season? he didn?t have even 13 minutes per game. But, Petrovic showed character and survived. Obviously that Adelman was without respect for European players, what else to say. But, it must be said that Petrovic had great competition inside the team. He played besides Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter.
There were rumors that Porter played some games even he couldn?t stand because he was ill, but he fought like a lion just not to give chance to Petrovic to show what he could.
Petrovic made debut for Portland in game against Sacramento (3.11.1989) and scored 7 pts with 5 rebounds for 10 minutes.
But, culmination was big NBA final when Portland lost against Detroit 4-1? Adelman didn?t give chance to Petrovic any single minute in all 3 home games? and Portland lost them all?
In that year (1990), Petrovic became World Champion with Yugoslavian National team in Argentina. That was his last dance for ex country? again history?
When he came back to Portland, it was obvious that everything was over.
?We didn?t have anything to say to each other, me and Adelman. Too much time went by. I had to leave and show what I could? ? Petrovic said.
On Petrovic?s insisting 3 teams made big trade (23.01.1991): Portland, New Jersey and Denver. Drazen left Portland and went to Nets, Walter Davis left Denver and went Portland, Terry Mills left Denver and went to New Jersey and Greg Anderson left New Jersey and went to Denver.
Finally, Drazen got a chance to play? and he showed to whole World on what level?
In first season he had 10.2 pts per game; in the next one he became one of the best.
In that season (1991/92), Drazen was scoring 20.6 pts per match with 3.1 assists per game (against Houston 44 pts ? 7 triples). He was 11th scorer of whole league.
In last season for New Jersey Petrovic had 22.3 pts per game, he was the best scorer and the best player in New Jersey. He was elected in the 3rd best NBA team with Tim Hardaway, Derrick Coleman, David Robinson and Scottie Pippen. He got an invitation to participate in shooting triples on all-star game but he refused and told that his place is on the court on all-star match, but there was shaming decision by NBA not to call him.
New Jersey Nets offered him 15,000,000$ for next 5 years, but Petrovic was nostalgic ? he wanted to come back to Europe.
In 1992 on Olympic games in Barcelona, Drazen Petrovic was a part of one of the most legendaries games ever between USA Dream Team 1 and Croatia (8th August 1992) in Olympic final. He scored then 24 pts and wrote his name in history once more as the best scorer on that match ? Jordan scored 22 pts.
Drazen played 38 matches for Croatia and scored 1002 points (25.1 per match). The most number (48 pts) he scored against Estonia.
Next and unfortunately last station was Wroclaw and qualifications for European Championship in Germany (1993). Drazen was injured and had problems with his wrist, but he wanted to play ? National team was everything for him. Drazen played his last game against Slovenia (6.6.1993) and scored 30 pts ? last points were from free throws line.
In the next day he was coming back to Croatia with his girlfriend Klara. She was driving the car, the whether was very, very bad. Hard car crash happened near Denkendorf in little town Ingolstadt. Big Drazen?s heart stopped immediately in 17:20.
One of the biggest has gone?
9 years after, Drazen Petrovic was elected for Hall of fame in Springfield together with Magic Johnson. His number 3 is retired in New Jersey, and in Switzerland, in Lauseanna, Vasko Lipovac made beautiful monument (16 marble pillars represents his 16 professional seasons) in his honor and eternal remembrance.
McDonald Tournament Trophy was named in his honor, Cibona?s hall in Zagreb is named in his honor.
Position: Point Guard, Shooting Guard
Birth date: October 22, 1964 in Sibenik, Croatia
Died: June 7, 1993
Weight: 90kg(200 pounds)
- 1972 ? Started with professional trainings
- 1978 ? Debut on Sibenka?s bench
- 1979. ? first points in first league against OKK Belgrade
- 1980 ? Croatian cadet champion
- 1981 ? The best Sportsman in Sibenka
- 1982 ? Loss in final of Radivoje Korac Cup against Limoges, debut in senior National team in friendly game against Italy
- 1983 ? Loss in final of Radivoje Korac Cup again against Limoges, administrative decision took Sibenka National title
- 1984 ? Bronze on Olympic Games, signed for Cibona
- 1985 ? European Champion with Cibona, Sportsman of the Year in Croatia
- 1985. ? 112 pts against Olimpija
- 1986 ? European Champion with Cibona, bronze medal and MVP of World Champions for Senior Men in Spain, Giganti del Basket's Mister Europa, Sportsman of the Year in Croatia
- 1987 ? Wins European Cup of cups, bronze on European Championship with Yugoslavia
- 1988 ? Loss in finale of Radivoje Korac Cup against Real, silver medal on Olympic games in Seoul, Sportsman of the Year in Croatia, signed for Real
- 1989 ? Gold medal in Zagreb on European Championship with Yugoslavia, winner of European Cup of cups, Leading scorer of Spanish ABC League , signs for Portland
- 1990 ? Gold medal with Yugoslavia on World Championship in Argentina
- 1991 ? Signed for New Jersey Nets
- 1992 ? Silver medal with Croatia on Olympic Games in Barcelona, La Gazetta dello Sport (Italy) Europe Player of the Year