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Dražen Petrović
Petrović with the New Jersey Nets in 1992
Personal information
Born (1964-10-22)22 October 1964
Šibenik, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia
Nationality Croatian
Died 7 June 1993(1993-06-07) (aged 28)
Denkendorf, Germany
Listed height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight 200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
NBA Draft 1986 / Round: 3 / Pick: 60th overall
Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers
Pro career 1979–1993
Career history
1979–1983 Šibenka
1984–1988 Cibona
1988–1989 Real Madrid
1989–1991 Portland Trail Blazers
1991–1993 New Jersey Nets
Career highlights and awards
  • All-NBA Third Team (1993)
  • FIBA World Championship MVP (1986)
  • FIBA EuroBasket MVP (1989)
  • 2× EuroLeague champion (1985, 1986)
  • EuroLeague Finals Top Scorer (1985)
  • FIBA European Selection (1987)
  • 4× Euroscar (1986, 1989, 1992, 1993)
  • 2× Mr. Europa Award (1986, 1993)
  • 2× FIBA Saporta Cup champion (1987, 1989)
  • 2× FIBA Saporta Cup Finals Top Scorer (1987, 1989)
  • FIBA Korać Cup Finals Top Scorer (1988)
  • Spanish League Top Scorer (1989)
  • Spanish Cup Final Top Scorer (1989)
  • Best Athlete of Yugoslavia (1985)
  • Yugoslav Sportsman of the Year (1985)
  • Croatian Sportsman of the Year (1985, 1986)
  • FIBA's 50 Greatest Players (1991)
  • 50 Greatest EuroLeague Contributors (2008)
  • Olympic Order (1993)
  • No. 3 retired by Brooklyn Nets
  • No. 10 retired by Cibona
Career NBA statistics
Points 4,461 (15.4 ppg)
Rebounds 669 (2.3 rpg)
Assists 701 (2.4 apg)

Dražen Petrović (22 October 1964 – 7 June 1993) was a Croatian professional basketball player. A shooting guard, he initially achieved success playing professional basketball in Europe in the 1980s, before joining the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1989.

A star on multiple stages, Petrović earned two silver medals and one bronze in Olympic basketball, a gold and a bronze in the FIBA World Cup, a gold and a bronze in the FIBA EuroBasket, and two EuroLeague titles. He represented Yugoslavia's national team and, later, Croatia's national team. He earned four Euroscars, and was named Mr. Europa twice. In 1985, he received the Golden Badge award for best athlete of Yugoslavia.

Seeking a bigger arena after his career start in Europe, Petrović joined the NBA in 1989, as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. After playing mostly off the bench that year, Petrović experienced a breakthrough following a trade to the New Jersey Nets. While starting for the Nets, he became one of the league's best shooting guards. Petrović's career and life were cut short after he died in a car accident at the age of 28. He received the Olympic Order in 1993.

Petrović is considered the crucial part of the vanguard to the present-day mass influx of European players into the NBA. Petrović's #3 was retired by the Nets in 1993, and in 2002, he was posthumously enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was voted the best European Basketball player in history by players at the 2013 FIBA EuroBasket.

Death

Dražen Petrović 1 Mirogoj lipanj 2008
The grave of Dražen Petrović at Mirogoj in Zagreb.

Petrović died in a traffic accident at approximately 17:20 on Monday, 7 June 1993, four and a half months before his 29th birthday. On the rain-drenched Autobahn 9, he was a passenger in a car that was cut off by a semi truck at Denkendorf, near Ingolstadt, in the German state of Bavaria. According to the report of the Ingolstadt police, that afternoon a truck broke through the Autobahn median; the truck driver was trying to avoid a collision with a personal vehicle in his own lane and lost control of the truck, crashing through the median barrier and finally coming to a stop blocking all three lanes of traffic in the opposite direction (Munich). Seconds later, the VW Golf carrying a sleeping Petrović in the passenger seat crashed into the truck, killing him and leaving the driver, Klara Szalantzy, a Hungarian model and basketball player with whom Petrović was romantically involved, and Hilal Edebal, a female Turkish basketball player, with grave injuries. It was established that visibility on the road was very poor and that Petrović was not buckled with a seatbelt.

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