Basketball is one of the biggest sports in Croatia and of course also in Zagreb. The local favourite team is Cibona that won the European championships two seasons in the mid 80’s. Those years the star of the team and one of Europe basketball legend was Drazen Petrovic.
There is a very long tradition of basketball in Zagreb, and the local club "Cibona" belongs to the best European basketball clubs.
During the times of Dražen Petrovic - Petro, the best European basketball ever, Cibona was two times European champion, in 1984 and 1985. After his tragic death in car crash in 1992, the dome and the square in front of it was named after Dražen Petrovic.
Basketball used to be one of the leading and most popular games in Croatia, our players were among the best in the world. Fact is, Croatia won silver Olimpic medail in 1992 at Barcelona, playing finals against the only real "dream team" (Jordan, Pipen, Drexler, Bird, Malone, Stockton, Ewing, Barkley, Johnson, Mullin, Robinson, laettner and coach Chuck Daly).
Virtually each and every basketball playground in Croatia, at that time, used to be crowded by players whole day till very late. Croatia had number of exceptional players who made big careers in NBA, Petrovic, Kukoc, Radja, to mentione just those most popular. But then, all the sudden, everything changed after the tragic death of Drazen Petrovic - Petro, who died in a car crash accident.
Petro was in the heart of every Croatian, besides exceptional skills he was really good guy whom everybody loved. Since that time and his death kids in Croatia lost interest for basketball.
I already wrote about the great tradition of basketball here. And this is the basketball hall here. As I was here in the summer the season was over but I could see friendly match between team Croatia and team Europe.
That day in the early morning I was still sleeping when my wife came all in panic to wake me up shouting, "Mali died in a car crash in Germany". In my home, as well as in most other Croatian homes, "Mali" was a nickname for Dražen Petroviæ Petro, the best European basketball player of all times. In croatia, Mali is usual endeared name for somebody whom we love and respect alot.
It was so absurde for me that Mali could possibly die so I said to my wife not to talk nonsenses and went back to sleep. Soon after came my son telling me the same thing and only then I realized it is the terrible truth. I can't remember when was shocked so much as in that particular moment.....
to be continue