Drazen

Just got done watching a truly remarkable documentary—”Once Brothers,” about the relationship between Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic. Trust me—DVR it. Tape it. Have a friend tape it. Remarkable.

At one point, I actually caught myself smiling. It was during highlights of Drazen’s time with the Nets in the early 90s. Back then I was an enormous New Jersey fan, when they featured the Big Three of Kenny Anderson, Derrick Coleman and Petrovic. They were never fantastic, but they were on the verge of being fantastic. Just needed a decent big man and some more help on the bench.

Then, while interning at The Tennessean during the summer of 1993, I read this:

NBA’s Drazen Petrovic of Croatia Killed in Auto Accident

BYLINE: By NESHA STARCEVIC, AP Sports Writer

SECTION: International News

LENGTH: 267 words

DATELINE: FRANKFURT, Germany

Drazen Petrovic, a Croatian who became a star in American professional basketball, died in a car crash in southeastern Germany. He was 28.

Petrovic was killed about 5:20 p.m. Monday 15 miles north of Ingolstadt, on the highway going to Munich, police said. He was traveling in a Volkswagen Golf with two women and was sitting in the front passenger seat.
The 23-year-old driver of the Golf apparently had to brake suddenly in heavy rain and lost control, hitting the rail separating lanes headed in the opposite direction and slamming into a trailer truck.
The driver and 53-year-old female passenger suffered serious injuries.
Petrovic was a high-scoring guard for the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association.
A member of Croatia’s silver-medal winning team in the Barcelona Olympics, he had just finished leading his country to a victory in a tournament in Wroclaw, Poland, that put the team in the European championships in Germany.
Petrovic is the fifth prominent athlete in American sports to die in accidents this year. Tim Crews and Steve Olin of baseball’s Cleveland Indians were killed in a boating accident in March. Race car driver Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash in April, and Iowa basketball star Chris Street was killed in a car accident in January.
In Zagreb, Croatia, Petrovic’s friends gathered at his coffee bar, Amadeus, after the death was reported early this morning.
“This is the worst shock in my life,” said Neven Spahija, coach of Cibona Zagreb, Petrovic’s former team. “We are all here now, watching each other, not believing, weeping.”

•••

All these years later, it’s still heartbreaking. The guy was on course to becoming an absolute NBA stud. He could shoot from anywhere. He passed like Magic. He played, well, no defense, but it would surely come.

So sad.

9 thoughts on “Drazen”

  1. This film was tremendous. With the exception of a few, dog-eared, straight-outta-Bristol Yankee/Red Sox pieces, this entire series has been incredible.

  2. ^no. the Raiders doc by Ice Cube was the worst so far. Then the slam poetry pieces that were in a couple of others (Tyson/2Pac and 1 more) were hilariously bad.
    The Yankees and Red Sox pieces were close though.

  3. A little maudlin, but this was one of the better docs. I always like Drazen and I always rooted for him after he left the Blazers.

    Damn those Nets unis were ugly though. DAMN.

  4. Best part of the 30for30 series has been the fact that for the most part, ESPN has butt out. I am a Yankees fan and watched the 2004 RedSox doc. The Simmons stuff was horrific. What need was there to put him in there? I was fearful that project would turn into Berman talking about being at Orange Bowl in “The U” or Skip Bayless/Woody Paige arguing about whether the Baltimore Colts band was in-tune. ESPN chews it…

    But I’m looking forward to getting to the DVR to watch Vlade/Drazen…

  5. Couldn’t agree with you more!! This is the best 30 on 30 thus far. He had some serious range and some of those passes were sweet!! The sky was the limit for Petro. I only hope Vlade gets some closure.

  6. sweet, you caught the show. it was def one of the most moving 30for30s so far. id have to say from the ones i remember, this one, and the escobar brothers were the best ones. maybe because they all fall within the age range when i was most heavily into sports.

    i havent watched all of them… still havent seen the reggie miller vs ny knicks one. def catch the escobar brothers tho.

    such a shame what happened w drazen and vlades friendship. it was cool to see toni kukoc and dino radja and all those OG euro guys.

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