FIBA features “Legend” Drazen Petrovic, who died in Car Crash

The ‘Genius of Sibenik’ is what some called Drazen Petrovic.

Others referred to him as the ‘Mozart of Basketball’ or simply as ‘Amadeus’.

There will never been another like the Croatian legend.

A player who blossomed into Europe’s most famous guard in the 1980s, Petrovic would have been 47 on October 22.

At the peak of his career in the summer of 1993, though, when Petrovic was an NBA player and less than a year on from his silver-medal winning contributions at 1992 Olympics for Croatia, Petrovic died in a car crash.

He was only 29.

Petrovic had accomplished so much already that he will forever be remembered as one of the best players ever in Europe.

He took his first steps in the game with Sibenik and played there until 1984 before going to Cibona Zagreb (1984-88), Real Madrid (1988-89), the Portland Trail Blazers (1989-90, and first half of 1990-91 season) and the New Jersey Nets.

Petrovic had his NBA success with the Nets, whom he joined midway through the 1990-91 campaign and played for through the 1992-93 season.

When it came to the NBA, he was a pioneer.

Top players from the old continent had yet to establish themselves in the league when he moved to America.

Petrovic, an All-NBA Third Team selection in 1993, blazed a trail for other Europeans to follow.

“If l learned anything in the NBA, then l learned to hold my own,” Petrovic once said. “No one’s going to push me around. I have a first and a last name, I’m not just some passer-by. I know that some people don’t like this, but they have to understand, no matter how miserable it makes them. There’s room for Europeans, and not only in episodic roles.”

For his national teams, Petrovic was magnificent.

He averaged 24.6 points for Croatia at the Barcelona Games.

Petrovic had shone for the former Yugoslavia at the Olympics in 1984 (Los Angeles) and ’88 (Seoul), when Yugoslavia captured bronze and silver, respectively.

At the 1990 FIBA World Championship in Argentina, Petrovic averaged 18.4 points in leading Yugoslavia to the gold medal.

Four years earlier, his 25.2 points per contest had led Yugoslavia to bronze at the World Championship in Spain.

So loved is Petrovic in his native land that there is a Drazen Petrovic Memorial Center in Zagreb.

His name will always be prominent in Sibenik, too.

On October 22, the city honored their favorite son by unveiling a bronze monument bearing his likeness next to the sports hall in Baldekin.

Petrovic was posthumously enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2002, and five years later in the FIBA Hall of Fame.

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