One year in army gave Drazen Petrovic some time to decide
where to continue his career . Sibenka was trying very hard to keep him in
Sibenik; Notre Dame coach ‘Digger’ Phelps came from US to try convince Drazen
for the overseas transfer; numerous offers across the national league.
However, Drazen knew from the day one where he ought to go. A club where his
brother Aleksandar played, a club that won national championship which would
allow Drazen to compete in the European premier league.
Cibona Zagreb was a logical step for Drazen Petrovic. The president of Croatian
National Team Mirko Novosel, who was at that time coach of Cibona Zagreb, said:
Drazen joined the team that won national championship, but it
did catastrophically in European league with zero wins and ten loses. He was a
quality player that we needed to become the European powerhouse.
Four years in Cibona would give enough time to Drazen to show all of his talent
in the European premier league. Finally, two brothers in the same team, the best
pair of guards in Europe. How it was to play with Drazen? I
would say, the best and the easiest years in my career, said his brother
First thing Drazen did when he came to Zagreb, can
you guess, scored 56 points against Sibenka. And while the Sibenka's
fans were desperately yelling Drazen, you are ours!
Drazen, please stop it! he kept scoring.
No, it wasn't hard. Memories are memories, love is love, but on the
court I don't recognize anyone. I will score 56 again against them, if I
get a chance, Drazen said after the game
Drazen and Cibona won everything that one European club can
win in those four years. Two times European Champions, European Cup Champions,
National Champions, National Cup Champions, played in several finals that
unfortunately, slipped away.
Aleksandar talks about those years:
What Drazen brought to Zagreb? A ShowTime for four years!
Every his play was a masterpiece. His and the other players’… Drazen’s greatest
In the big games we would all get very excited about it, but there were those
small games where you just had to win, but there wasn’t a great
motivation…Drazen played those games for his fans.
This is a job where you don’t have a privilege of
having a bad day. More than everything I felt obligated to my fans. You
have to return their love. That is a reason I never took a day off when
I was on the basketball court. I played every game for them, and then
for myself and the club.
- Drazen Petrovic
The players of Cibona experienced the renaissance while
Drazen was in Zagreb. They felt as if there was nothing they couldn’t do on the
basketball court while Drazen was next to them.
I’ll never forget the game against Partizan Belgrade, right
after we won our first European Championship in Athena against Real Madrid. We
all celebrated our European Championship and nobody practiced for days, but we
still had our National league to play.
Partizan came to Zagreb looking for their chance…we scored 72 points in first 20
minutes of the game. In the moments where we didn’t practice for days, after
celebrations…first missed three pointer after 18 minutes of the game.
Unforgettable!, Aleksandar recalls those years.
Drazen knew that opponents’ defense could not stop
- Aleksandar Petrovic
Drazen brought ShowTime to Zagreb, as not once did he score
40, 50, 60 points while playing for Cibona. Italian newspaper related Drazen to
Mozart, because that is exactly what Drazen was to them…basketball Mozart.
Who can forget his 7 three pointer in a row against Limoges (France) when Cibona
was down by 16 points at the half-time, or against Simac (Italy) when his team
was again down by 9 points, but thanks to Drazen’s 47 points and some 25 assists
Cibona pulled out an important win in the European league.
Simac’s coach Dan Peterson said about Drazen’s performance:
Cibona has some good players, but Drazen is a One Man Team.
Except ShowTime Drazen brought to Zagreb his working habits. Drazen set the
standards for practicing for all young players in Cibona and around the Europe.
His practicing habits became part of the basketball ethics in Croatia. Morning
practice became mandatory for all players and individual practices were
performed more widely with younger players. If Drazen can do
it, you can too, coaches would preach to their players.
Neven Berticevic, the Zagreb newspaper reporter recall a story about Drazen:
Drazen’s last year in Cibona they lost National Championship,
so I set up an interview with him outside Cibona’s arena. He came out of the car
caring the ball. I looked at the ball, a little bit surprised. Drazen
What’s the matter? I can’t stop living. I did my part. The
ball? I always have it in my car. And when I feel like shooting, I go to the
arena, I hit 100, 200 or 500 shots. How many will I shot today? I don’t know.
What I do know is that after this interview I’ll go practice. This is not the
end of the world.
And it certainly wasn’t! It was the time for Drazen to move on. Aleksandar
Drazen fell in love with Zagreb, and numerous times he talked about returning,
settling down in Zagreb. He planed to play his last two years of his career in
Cibona. For all those good times they spend together. Drazen and Cibona. Cibona
and Drazen. After 4 years he realized that some things are not repeatable…we
knew: Drazen had to go. Europe was his next step.
|Season 1985/86., Drazen averaged 43.3 points per game |
|Drazen and Cibona ran over Europe|
|Drazen had a special relationship with his fans|
|Sabonis vs. Drazen in European Championship Finals|