NETS NEW JERSEY
The first thing Drazen said when he arrived to New Jersey was: It’s all over now, I got here all I wanted.
Nobody is going to stop me now.
And nobody did. Drazen raised his points per game average to 10 ppg to the end of the year playing
an average of 20.5 minutes in 43 games,
with one of the league’s best points-per-minute ratios.
Next year was his career explosion. Drazen become one of the premier shooting guards in the NBA. With an average of 20.6
points per game and shooting 51 percent from the floor Drazen took the title of the best shooting guard in the NBA.
And what about
New Jersey Nets? Even though, they had Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson New Jersey Nets never entered play-off race
until Drazen’s arrival. Drazen especially liked Houston whom he knocked down 44 points at Houston.
|I don’t know why, but I felt
like I could do anything to Vernon Maxwell that day.|
- Drazen Petrovic, after scoring 44 points against Houston
It was memorable when Drazen visited Portland Trail Blazers, but as a New Jersey Nets player. Drazen
received standing ovation that will be long remembered in Blazers’ arena.
At times, I felt very uncomfortable… they applauded me throughout the whole game. And that meant they liked me.
And believed in me.
- Drazen Petrovic
That same year was Olympic year - Barcelona ‘92. It was Croatia’s first Olympic appearance ever carried by
emotions from madness of the war. Drazen as always, took Croatian team to the highest limit. No, it was not a gold,
but it was a silver with a golden shine.
USA’s Dream Team led Michael Jordan, Magic Earwin Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles
Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen… was truly the greatest team in the history of basketball.
Drazen Petrovic, Toni Kukoc, Dino
Radja… were right behind them. It took the greatest team of all time quite some time to beat Croatia. It will be remembered that
Croatia was the only team ever to have a lead against the Dream Team after 10 minutes of the game. Drazen scored a game high 24
points and Jordan with 22 points led USA national team.
Drazen’s commitment towards Croatia, not just in basketball,
but as a country, was exceptional. When Croatian needed any help that could get in the dark times of war, Drazen was first there
for help, for recognition… with pride he carried name Croatia all over the United States.
When Drazen first time arrived to Chicago, in the times of war in Croatia,
he approached the game announcer and asked for correction: I am not Yugoslavian, I am Croatian. Since then nobody ever
called him Yugoslavian in the NBA. I think, that what Drazen did for Croatia is uncountable, priceless and ever lasting.
brother Aleksandar said for Croatian Sports newspaper
In his last NBA season Drazen went a step further. The number one Nets player led the team in scoring with 22.3 points
per game (11th in the league) with fantastic 52 shooting percentage which made him for the second time in a row the best shooting guard in the NBA… better
than Michael Jordan.
His best season in his career was most disappointing one since he was not invited to the All-star game.
Shameless decision by NBA coaches, and even more by the Nest who were pushing Coleman and Anderson towards All-star
team. He was the only player from top 15 that led NBA in scoring that was not invited to the premier game.
If they did not pick me now for the All-star game, when will they? I don’t know how to take this injustice.
They called me to participate in 3 point shooting contest. No thanks, I don’t need that. I belong on the court.
- Drazen Petrovic
The media voted him to the All-NBA Third Team at season’s end. Fans loved his enthusiasm and
energy, and his coaches admired the fact that he devoted offseason time to improving his game, especially his defense.
couldn’t have wanted a better teammate, New Jersey Head Coach Chuck Daly told the Newark Star-Ledger. He
is very talented, he plays very hard and is able to lead by his example. He is indefatigable.
But, in fact, not all his teammates admired Petrovic’s style. Some Nets players, Assistant Coach Paul Silas acknowledged to
The New York Times, "had a little problem with Draz. They thought he shot too much and held the ball." In addition to the
locker-room backbiting, Petrovic became unhappy with New Jersey management, which was slow to renegotiate his contract.
Drazen knew that it was time to leave New Jersey. He wanted to go to the team with championship motives.
With Drazen Petrovic we’d get exactly what we need to
win the championship.
- New York coach Pat Riley expressed his wishes to New York Times.
But before making any kind of future decisions, Drazen had to leave for Poland to play qualification games
for the Croatian National team… a week later, a heartbreaking news came form Germany.
Drazen Petrovic died in the car accident…
|Nets 'go to guys' - Drazen and Coleman|
|Beside offense, Drazen recived recognition for working on improving his defense|
|Unconditionally faithful to his country|
|The captain of Boston Celtics Reggie Lewis (heart failure) and Drazen Petrovic (car accident) both died in 1993.