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Nets to honor Drazen Petrovic after break

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Nets v Nuggets Photo by Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

Drazen Petrovic, the Croatian superstar who found his game with the then-New Jersey Nets, will be honored with a special tribute when the Nets host the Bulls on February 26.

It will be a retro-themed night to honor Petrovic, who tragically passed away in a car accident on the German autobahn almost 25 years ago.

Petrovic’s mother will be in attendance and there will be a video tribute showcasing the guard’s legacy. The Nets will also be giving out Drazen Petrovic figurines to the first 10,000 fans in attendance.

There will also be five new Petrovic items in the Swag Shop along with a NBA Jam arcade machine, where fans can play as “Petro” in the classic game. Autographed and game-worn items from Petrovic will also be on display.

Though Petrovic only played three seasons for the then-New Jersey Nets, he left an indelible mark on the franchise.

On his arrival in East Rutherford from Portland who had drafted him, he was regarded as a bust, a European star who couldn’t compete against NBA talent. He had averaged just 7.0 points per game as a member of the Trail Blazers.

Inspired by an opportunity to prove himself, he set out to end the team’s six-year drought from the playoffs and lived up to his promise – leading the Nets to a 40-42 record and the sixth seed. Not only did the 6’5” guard inspire himself, he inspired two young teammates, Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson.

The team never missed the playoffs while he was a member and in 195 games with the team, he averaged 19.5 points on an impressive 51.1 percent shooting including 43.1 on threes. He was also arguably the first European player to be seen as a franchise star and the first pure European to make the All-NBA team.

Since then, two other Croatians have played with the Nets, Zoran Planinic in New Jersey and Bojan Bogdanovic in Brooklyn. Last season, Bogdanovic matched Petrovic’s best game with a 44-point game at Barclays.