Before Steph Curry, There Was Drazen Petrovic...Remembering One of the Greatest Shooters of All-Time


It has been almost twenty-five years since New Jersey Nets legend Drazen Petrovic passed away.  The Nets honored Petrovic with a tribute during Monday’s game versus the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center:

So let’s talk about Petro, as many liked to call him. As you can see from the video above, Kenny Anderson talks about DP3 going at Michael Jordan, the  himself.  This is actually when I fell in love with Petro.  He was one of the baddest shooters I had ever seen pulling up from three feet behind the 3pt line and hitting shots in people’s eyes.  He was Steph “Chef” Curry with the shot boy, before Steph. Petro loved to talk trash and went at Jordan, Reggie Miller, and all of the greats whenever he played against them.  As an Indian kid growing up in the city, when you played street ball, you had to have a chip on your shoulder if you wanted to survive.  Drazen helped me get that chip.

And just how good of a shooter was Petro?  On the All-Time NBA 3PT% list, he sits at No. 3, one spot above a name you might recognize; Steph Curry.

Career 3-pt FG pct:

Drazen Petrovic: 43.7

Steph Curry: 43.6

ORLANDO – FEBRUARY 8: (L) Dell Curry #30 of the Charlotte Hornets and his son Stephen Curry sit with Mitch Richmond #2 of the Sacramento Kings and Drazen Petrovic #3 of the New Jersey Nets during the 1992 NBA Three Point Competition on February 8, 1992 at the Orlando Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1992 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Speaking of Steph Curry, he had his own connection to Petrovic.  In 1992, three-year-old Steph joined his father Dell at the Three-Point Contest. During the contest, Petrovic’s mom took care of the young Curry.  Curry remembered the gesture and made a nice one of his own when the Warriors won their championship in 2015.  For him to remember that, it really makes you think about the possible effect Petro had on Curry and the evolution of his game…

Drazen Petrovic is the only player in NBA history to average 20 pts per 36-minutes, shoot 50% overall and 40% from distance for a career.  He was also the first European player to make an All-NBA team.

Here is a great video of NBA legends talking about Petro:

And here is video of Drazen going toe-to-toe with Michael Jordan:

Petrovic put on a show in the 1992 Olympics. Croatia’s only loss was to the USA’s “Dream Team”, and Petrovic led all scorers with 24 points in the gold medal game vs. that legendary team.  Yes, there is video:

Because of his success in the NBA and the Olympics, he started the whole European invasion over to the NBA. Yes, before there was Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Toni Kukoc and Pau Gasol, there was Drazen Petrovic. Because of Petro, GM’s started going to Europe to find players.  Here is a great watch talking about how Petro truly was an ambassador for the game.  If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here’s a fun nugget from it…Drazen once dropped 112 points in a game, going 40 for 60 from the field, 22 for 22 from the FT line, and 10 for 20 from three pt land:

If it wasn’t for Petro’s unfortunate death, there is no doubt in my mind that we would be talking about him as one of the best NBA players of all-time.  Petro’s career might have been cut tragically short, but it is important that his legacy lives on.  And if you have not watched the 30 for 30 titled “Once Brothers,” make sure you do that ASAP!  Drazen Petrovic was a great baller and a true ambassador for the league, and that is why he needs to always be remembered.