Drazen Petrovic Rumors
Peter Vecsey: When an obtuse editor in the sports department of USA Today made a command decision not to print a column I’d written about Drazen on the day of his burial in Zagreb, I decided to ask out of my 5-year contract which had two remaining. The editor insisted I write a column about the Bulls-Suns Finals that was getting underway that day. I tried to explain a series preview was insignificant compared to Croatia honoring its greatest athlete. “If Drazen’s death was meaningful enough for our paper to box the breaking news on the front page, his funeral should be meaningful enough for me to write about, ” I emphasized. “Especially since I was the one who broke the fuckin’ story!”
Petrovic hit 43.7 percent of his career 3s, the third-best mark in league history, behind only Steve Kerr and Hubert Davis. Every Croatian with any connection to basketball seems to know that statistic by heart. “He was one of the first guys to shoot from 3 and 4 feet behind the line, and he was doing it running full speed off screens,” Carlisle says. “It was absolutely wild. He would be perfectly suited to play today.”
“Before Drazen, [it was like the league said] you didn’t even want them over here,” says Kenny Anderson, who played with Petrovic in New Jersey. “It was like, ‘Y’all soft.'” Petrovic was hungry to prove everyone wrong. He could have lived a comfortable life as (by far) the best player in Europe. “He told me, ‘If I don’t try the NBA, I will hurt for the rest of my life,'” says Spahija, who was close with Petrovic until his death.
Before there was Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki and Pau Gasol, there was Drazen Petrovic. The Nets will honor Petrovic, who played for the team in New Jersey for two and a half seasons from 1991 to 1993, with a tribute during Monday’s game versus the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center. The first European player to make an All-NBA team, Petrovic’s NBA career and life was tragically cut short nearly 25 years ago when he was killed in an automobile accident in Germany.