Drazen Petrovic was the cream of the crop in the NBA and very much ahead of his time.
Tragically, four and a half months before his 29th birthday and shortly after a Nets first round elimination to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1993 Playoffs, Petrović died in a traffic accident on the Autobahn.
Petro’s midrange jumper was unguardable and his passing skills were quite efficient.
Nicknamed “The Croatian Mozart,” Petrovic’s gift and passion on the court was truly art.He could run the break like nobody’s business and as a Net, he was tossing no-looks at the Meadowlands Arena way before Jason Kidd was!
His best season, his last, he posted 22 points and close to 4 assists in 70 games under late New Jersey Nets head coach, Chuck Daly and teammates Kenny Anderson and Derrick Coleman
On a recent episode of the Scoop B Radio Podcast, Anderson detailed those 90s Nets teams and what it was like to play with Petrovic. Anderson tells me that Petrovic was quite the trash talker.
Check out a snippet from our dialogue below.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: You were the youngest player in the NBA history in their rookie year to average 7.2 rpg and 3.2 apg and then in your second season, you nearly doubled your points, rebounds and assists averages. In your third season you averaged 18.8ppg and 9.6apg and you and Derrick Coleman represented the East squad in the 1994 NBA All-Star Game. For those who paid attention to the Nets in the 90’s, you guys were like a young squad that had a LOT of potential. You had anybody from like yourself, to Derrick Coleman to Kevin Edwards, to Benoit Benjamin to Jayson Williams, Dwayne Dwayne Schintzius…why was it so difficult for you guys to mesh and take it to the next level?
Kenny Anderson: You know, we had some growing pains and everybody you just named were great players, everybody was growing than Drazen Petrovic came, I thought we had a GREAT threesome with myself, Drazen Petrovic and Derrick Coleman. He passed away and it hurt and the organization and just the ownership – it wasn’t bad but the ownership was seven owners – it gets tough man, to mesh with seven owners and the job and getting it done. You know, New Jersey for me was a solid point for me and I’ll always remember the best times there and playing for New Jersey. I don’t really look at the past. You can always look at it and say this that, and the other or what about this and that; hey, it didn’t happen and you gotta move on from it. The positive things from it was always a blessing. I learned the NBA game you know, and playing with the New Jersey Nets was awesome.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Drazen Petrovic. I heard this story before. I had the voice of NBA Jam on the Scoop B Radio Podcast and he talked about how there was this thing on the NBA Jam game would say, Petrovic! Petrovic! Petrovic! Over and over and over again. Drazen was like, ahead of his time. From your perspective, what was he like? People compare his work ethic to Michael. Was it there?
Kenny Anderson: Oh yeah it was there. By far. He started his career in Portland, where he didn’t play a lot. And then he went to New Jersey where we needed him and he really produced and played extremely well. But his work ethic?… he was tough. He would always be in the gym early, out late, worked extremely hard on his body. He was just a great – and if I guessed it, we was going to do some work but if wouldn’t have passed away, yo if they would have brought me and him back, Derrick Coleman – we were going to do some WORK!! I already know that. Because everybody was determined to really put forth a great effort and we knew how hard the East was with Jordan. But we couldn’t because he passed away from the car accident, but his work ethic was extremely great. It was awesome.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: I guess they often said that Michael Jordan and Drazen Petrovic would go head to head or go toe-to-toe and their level of competiveness was there. I don’t know how to say it any other way. I’ve heard the stories, I was a little young. I hear Gary Payton was a big trash talker. Reggie Miller was a big trash talker. I can’t say it any other way but this – Kenny, how much shit did Drazen Petrovic talk on the basketball court?
Kenny Anderson: He talked a lot! He was on it but, he was a different type of dude. I really couldn’t tell you – I mean, he talked a lot of trash when he played against Vernon Maxwell. I think he got his career high against the Houston Rockets! Him and Vernon Maxwell were about to fight. It was crazy man; I really didn’t know how much – I knew what he said when he talked, but I knew he was talking a lot. He was talking a lot of it in Croatian. You really didn’t understand it, I know I did.
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: That was going to be my next question. Did he speak English? [laughs]
Kenny Anderson: Yes he spoke English. He spoke English for a while. He was over here for a while. He was in Portland and New Jersey. So, he spoke English. His girlfriend that worked at Houlihan’s like right down the road –
Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson: Secaucus right?
Kenny Anderson: Yeah! Secaucus. Yeah; That the one that was in the car with him. She survived. And he passed away. So it was really tough on her – it was crazy man.