The Nets Remember Drazen Petrovic

24 April 2012

EUROPEANS IN THE NBA

Drazen Petrovic Memorial - Sibenik
Guests are shown around the Drazen Petrovic Memorial, which opened in Sibenik, Croatia last year

By Jeff Taylor

There will always been strong emotions when the name Drazen Petrovic is uttered.

It's that way all over the world because the Croatian legend, one of basketball's greatest players, transcended the sport.

The 1.96m shooting guard won many fans to the game with his talent, flair and unrivalled determination.

While competing for the former Yugoslavia, he was the MVP of the 1986 World Championship in Spain and three years later was MVP of the European Championship in Zagreb.

He is remembered in the NBA, too.

Petrovic launched his career in the United States with Portland in 1989 but was never fully appreciated until he became a member of the New Jersey Nets in 1991.

In the 1991-92 campaign with New Jersey, he was 123 of 277 (44.4%) from three-point land and the following year, his last, he shot 44.9% (75 of 167).

He made 43.7% (255 of 583) attempts from the arc during his NBA career.

Drazen Petrovic - New Jersey Nets
Drazen Petrovic averaged 22.3 points per game onĀ  over 50 percent shooting in the '91-'92 campaign with the New Jersey Nets (photo courtesy of NBA Europe/GettyImages)

Petrovic played the game with heart, passion and certainly during his last two years, with incredible accuracy from long range.

Hugely popular among Nets fans and loved in Croatia, Petrovic died on 7 June 1993 in a car crash in Germany.

With this season being the last for the Nets to be based in New Jersey, and the team moving to Brooklyn for the 2012-13 NBA campaign, Petrovic's name has come up often.

People have been reflecting on Petrovic's inspirational spell with the club.

During the NBA All-Star Weekend in Orlando in February, current Nets sharpshooter Anthony Morrow competed in the Three-Point Shootout and paid tribute to Petrovic by wearing his retired jersey with the No. 3.

When he was announcing his plans to honour Petrovic, Morrow said he had watched the documentary "Once Brothers" about the broken friendship of Vlade Divac and Petrovic.

The 26-year-old Morrow was only seven when Petrovic played his last year for the Nets.

"I just remember - I don't remember a whole lot - but I remember he could shoot real, real good," Morrow said.

After wearing Petrovic's jersey in the contest, Morrow said: "I'm glad I got a chance to honor him, even though I came up short."

Kevin Love beat Kevin Durant to win the shootout.

"It was still a great feeling," Morrow said.

On Monday night, the Nets ended their 35-year stay in New Jersey with a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Petrovic and other former Nets greats were remembered during a half-time ceremony.

The most poignant moment occurred when the mother of Petrovic, who was invited to take part, earned an ovation.


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