The sad end of the most beautiful sports fairy tale: The departure of "basketball Mozart"
Dražen Petrović has been gone for a long time, but his name is still synonymous with all that is noble and beautiful in sports.
The second son in the family of Biserka and Jola Petrović, he was born in 1964 in Šibenik. As a thirteen-year-old, he became a junior at Šibenik, a club where his older brother Aleksandar had previously played. The boy's talent immediately shone. Although the other players were older than him, he would easily score about forty points per game.
Then came the great shock. Due to hip problems, doctors warn him: "If you don't stop playing sports, you will end up in a wheelchair!". Despite the risk, he ignored their warnings. Fortunately, the diagnosis turned out to be wrong. Dražen went from success to success, and at the age of seventeen he was named the best athlete in Šibenik. A year later, he became a senior.
At that time, Aleksandar Petrović settled in the ranks of "Cibona". The draw decided that "Šibenka" will play against "Cibona", brother against brother. "We were the favorites, but 'Šibenka', led by Dražen, swept us away!", Said Aleksandar. "To make matters worse, Drazen pushed the ball through my legs twice during the game!" A great triumph followed - with the victory over Bosnia, Petrovic brought his club the title of champion of Yugoslavia. With a controversial decision, the match was canceled the next day, with the explanation that the foul on Petrović was not in regular time. Šibenik basketball players, however, never returned the trophy or medals. Drazen's statement then said it all: "I will not give the gold medal to anyone. We celebrated the title and no one can take it away from us anymore! ”
Shortly afterwards, Drazen joined his brother in "Cibona". The first thing he did in the new jersey was to score 56 points for the former home club! With "Cibona" he won everything that a European team can win and, despite his sporting triumphs, he did not neglect his education, so he enrolled in law school.
He also managed to find time for love: he dated Sanja Doležal, the singer of "New Fossils", for a year. Love broke when he went to play for Real Madrid, a club that had been trying to win him over for years. Overnight, he becomes the biggest star of the most trophy-winning European club. European Michael Jordan, as he was called, scored over thirty points per game. And then the pressure from the Portland Blazers, who had tried unsuccessfully for years to bring him into their ranks, became too strong. The NBA has been profiled for the Americans for years, but the man from Šibenik did not doubt his success.
After two years in Portland, which he mostly sat on the bench due to the coach's distrust, he signed for the New Jersey Nets. He proved to be one of the most dangerous attackers in the world. With an average of twenty points per game, he was awarded the title of NBA's best shooter.
In 1992, the Olympic Games were held in Barcelona, the first in which independent Croatia participated. Our national team achieved something incredible - the Olympic finals and the showdown with the invincible "Dream Team". They won silver, and the best team in the history of basketball took a lot of time and effort to win over Croatia. Drazen finished the game as the top scorer: he scored 24 points, two more than Jordan!
On June 7, 1993, the fairy tale received a bitter ending. After returning from Germany, in preparation for the European Championships, Dražen Petrović lost his life in a car accident. He will not be forgotten. The statue in the Olympic Park in Lausanne is an eternal memory of Mozart's basketball triumphs. Today he would probably, like many of his former teammates, be the coach of a team, perhaps our national team like his brother Aco. But Drazen doesn't have to be physically present to be remembered. His character and work live in the chosen number 44 on the jersey, they live in the oversized jersey of Šibenik on the building of the City Administration in his hometown, they live in an attempt to break his records so many years after his departure. Dražen Petrović's thinking and work will forever remain the greatest treasure for future generations
Dražen Petrović lived basketball, he lived sports, he was and remains a true legend, an inspiration for generations and a symbol of Croatian sport, a driving force and a motive for the youngest to continue, simply, he was "Mozart". He was not a symbol of youth, he was youth in itself. Many, of course, are wondering what would have happened to Croatian basketball if there had been no tragedy, but the answer to such a question is to wait in vain.