7 June 2019 – 26 years ago today Croatia lost arguably one of its greatest ever sportsmen.
On 7 June 1993, one of the greatest basketballer players to ever come out of Europe, Dražen Petrović, was tragically killed. Petrović was just 28 when he was killed in a car accident in Germany after returning from playing for Croatia in Poland the previous day.
Wreaths and flowers will be laid on Friday to mark the 26th anniversary, and a basketball tournament is being held in his hometown of Šibenik. The day will start with the laying of flowers at Dražen’s monument.
Nicknamed ‘Basketball’s Mozart’, Dražen was born in Šibenik on 22 October 1964. Voted the Best European Basketballer in History, Petrović enjoyed an illustrious career with the New Jersey Nets, averaging 20.6 points in 36.9 minutes on the floor, and nearly leading all NBA guards in field goal percentage (51%). He did not miss a single game.
Dražen also won Olympic basketball medals, as well as a gold and a bronze at the FIBA World and European Championships. Petrović was regarded as a crucial part of the present-day mass influx of European players into the NBA.
In 2002 he was posthumously enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and the following year was voted the best European Basketball player in history, by players at the 2013 FIBA EuroBasket.