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49 Years Ago Today…

CroatiaExactly 49 years ago today (22 October 1964) in the Dalmatian town of Šibenik, one of the greatest sportsmen Croatia ever produced was born.

Dražen Petrović, nicknamed Basketball’s Mozart, started his career in 1979 with Šibenik before going on to play with Cibona, Real Madrid, Portland Trailblazers and the New Jersey Jets. Petrović was a star on multiple stages and earned two silver medals and one bronze in Olympic basketball, a gold and a bronze in the FIBA World Championship, and a gold and a bronze in the FIBA European Championship. He represented Yugoslavia and, later, Croatia. He earned four Euroscar Awards, and was named Mr. Europa twice. In 1985 he received the Golden Badge award for best athlete of Yugoslavia and has been called the greatest the ever European basketballer to play in the NBA.

Boston Celtics vs Los Angeles Lakers 4/5/02In the summer of 1993, after his best NBA season and the Nets’ first-round elimination by the Cleveland Cavaliers, Petrović traveled to Poland, where the Croatian national team was playing a qualification tournament for the 1993 Eurobasket. Petrović decided to skip the connection flight back to Zagreb and drive with his girlfriend back to Croatia. At 17:20 on June 7, 1993, four and a half months before his 29th birthday, Petrović  was killed after the car he was travelling in as a passenger was cut off by a semi truck at Denkendorf, near Ingolstadt, in the German state of Bavaria.

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