Brooklyn Nets to honor Drazen Petrovic Monday night

NEW YORK - APRIL 21: Drazen Petrovic
NEW YORK - APRIL 21: Drazen Petrovic /

The Brooklyn Nets play host to the Chicago Bulls Monday night at the Barclays Center. The Nets will honor former European great Drazen Petrovic before the game.

Drazen Petrovic’s legacy extends far beyond his remarkable run with the Nets. After being traded from Portland to New Jersey during the 1990-91 NBA season, he became a European trailblazer. His next two seasons saw him average over 20 points per game, while shooting over 44 percent from three.

After the season he became the first European player to gain All-NBA honors. And on June 7th, 1993 that all disappeared. Petrovic was killed in a car accident in Germany’s autobahn. The reaction was shock and disbelief. And despite the fact that basketball became secondary, Petrovic’s passing had a major impact on the Nets direction.

The Nets were a consistent playoff team at that point in time. His former teammate Kenny Anderson, in an interview with the Post’s Brian Lewis gave his reaction:

"“To this day it bugs me,” Anderson said. “What would it have been if we kept that team together? If we’d stayed together what career would it have been? I have a lot of Nets stuff around the house. I always tell my wife how would it have been. It was tough when he passed away in that accident. Everything went south in the organization. It was just tragic."

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Kenny Atkinson spoke recently about Petrovic as well. While Atkinson was playing Europe, there would be talk of Drazen’s unmatched work ethic and drive for greatness.

"“It’s a great story, man, it gets me excited,” said Atkinson. “I was huge fan. I’m a Europhile, too – I thought that was really cool to prove how guys from over there can, not only be good players, but really make a mark in this league."

That is truly where his legacy lies, opening the door for European players to make the move and have success in the NBA. Fittingly, during the 2013 FIBA European Basketball Championship he was voted the greatest European basketball player of all time.

Petrovic’s mother will be in attendance during his honoring ceremony, and is excited. “Drazen and a basketball are really connected and he’s a citizen of the world. I’m proud of my son and the Nets. I really appreciate it.” she told reporters.

After the ceremony, the Brooklyn Nets will look o honor his legacy in another way that he would surely appreciate. With a win.

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