Today is the day that we happily remember the birthday of one of the basketball's greatest – the Mozart of our beautiful game – Dražen Petrović.
On this day, no less than 56 years ago, Dražen Petrović, a kid that later became the World and European champion and Olympic silver-medalist, was born! And despite the fact no less than 27 years have passed since the moment when the tragicall traffic accident took the basketball genius today, he remains in the hearts of the basketball fans throughout not only Croatia or our region, but basketball World in general.
Today, just like 30 years ago, everything is said when you mention the name and surname of Dražen Petrović. As soon as a 19-year old kid, he took his hometown club šibenka to the finals of Radivoj Korać Cup and Jugoslavian National Championship, the one that he managed to conquer two years later with Cibona, that he took also to the European club basketball throne.
For almost every basketball player it would have been a dream come true, but Dražen did not stop there, but continued to amuse the fans at an even bigger stage - first playing for Real Madrid, for which he scored no less than 62 points in the European Cup Winners Cup to take them to the top and later in the NBA. Even though a path towards success beyond the Atlantic was not an easy one at all for an European player at the times, his will and determination made him shine bright in the New Jersey Nets jersey and… as it turned out later, his performances were the ones that paved the way for many Europeans afterwards, that tried their luck in the strongest club competitions in the world.
As everywhere else, Dražen left an ineradicable mark wearing the jersey of Yugoslavia national team, with which he won the gold at European and World Championships, as well as silver at the Olympic Games. Later, he was named the first captain of Croatia national team.
Dražen played his last ever game on 6 of June with Croatia national team against Slovenia in Poland, before the tragical accident occurred on his way home, on the motorway in Germany. More than 26 years have passed since then, but his spirit is indeed still alive. Basketball fans still happily remember the glory days of his Cibona, Yugoslavia and Croatia national team and he is still the biggest inspiration of all for the younger generations of basketball fanatics in our region.
Yes, we still happily remember the great Dražen!