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Croatian Basketball Did It First

May 5, 2020

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There was a time before Šuker was winning Golden Boots, Modrić was playing in World Cup Finals, and Ivanišević was lifting Wimbledon trophies.

 

 

It was Petrović, Kukoč, Radja & company who put Croatia on the world sporting map with their silver medal finish at the 1992 Olympics against the greatest team ever assembled – The Dream Team.

 

 

If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, ESPN is currently running a 10-episode docuseries on the 1998 Chicago Bulls called “The Last Dance.” In episode 5, they highlight what Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen thought about Toni Kukoč; who had already been drafted by the Bulls but didn’t come over to play until the 93-94 season. They also talk about how Kukoč had a huge target on his back at the ’92 summer Olympics in Barcelona. Petrović is not mentioned.

 

 

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Petrović vs. Jordan

 

 

I was only six years old at the time of the 1992 Olympics – so my perspective should not be taken into account – however, looking back at it historically, the 1992 Croatian national basketball team had to go through maximum adversity to stand on that podium.

 

 

Croatia had just become an independent nation one year before. There was a fiery war going on in their homeland which would last another three years. Kukoč had the world’s largest target on him by Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan – arguably the greatest player to play the game. And through all that adversity, the Croatian national team – in their first tournament as an independent Croatia – battled through the tournament for a silver medal finish.

 

 

No one was beating the American Dream Team that year  – no one. To this day, it’s the single greatest basketball team ever assembled. And after being humiliated in the group stage by the Americans, Croatia at least competed in the gold medal game. From that, Dino Radja and the late Dražen Petrović have already been elected to the basketball Hall of Fame, and many say Toni Kukoč belongs alongside them as well in the very near future.

 

 

Croatia has excelled in many sports. Football, tennis, handball, skiing, rowing, water polo. And although basketball hasn’t been the same since the early 90s, it was this Croatian basketball team that put Croatia on the map first.

 

 

USA vs. Croatia — 1992 Gold Medal Match (FULL GAME)

 

 

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Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 50 comments





  1. Maminjo says:

    These ’92 Croatia basketball jerseys would be amazing to own.

    I wonder if anyone owns one.



  2. JB says:

    Mike Schmitz: I would have loved to see Toni Kukoc in today’s NBA, as his game was perfectly suited for modern basketball. A 6-foot-10, fluid point forward loaded with creativity, Kukoc would be a triple-double machine with Luka Doncic-level freedom, constant high ball screens and never-ending space to operate, likely leaving him with a much different legacy. On top of that, his transition would have been far easier, given the international flavor in the NBA now compared to back then. But it was Kukoc, one of the most accomplished European prospects of all time, who helped pave the way for prospects such as Doncic. A three-time Euroleague Final Four MVP and two-time FIBA Eurobasket MVP, Kukoc remains a hero for young European prospects and the gold standard for longtime international scouts.



  3. Dannyj says:

    Maminjo
    I have a blue one similar
    I never really wore it and I’m sure it’s some knock off
    Soooo old school
    My brother brought it back I would say mid 90s
    Dunno how I could post a pic



  4. Maminjo says:

    is OAKI the brand?

    Not sure what OAKI was, but it was the brand name on those jerseys.



  5. Soul Champ says:

    Tooooooooooooooooooo ..

    I created a ‘92 Dražen Petrović Olympic replica of that same Jersey.

    I rock it when I need that ZDS beast mode mojo.

    Dražen lives we when Gold in 1996.



  6. Soul Champ says:

    @ Ante

    That is a great picture of Dražen.

    Dražen was the ultimate Soul Champ.



  7. Soul Champ says:

    Speaking of Hrvati that stir the drink:

    Marcelo Brozovic will also be a player former Italian national team manager Conte will rely heavily on. The Croatian midfielder keeps things ticking in the centre of the park and has been absolutely pivotal for Inter since Luciano Spalletti deployed him as a regista.



  8. Maminjo says:

    @Soul

    How did you create it?

    Did you get it made?
    Or did you buy a red tank top and just get a grb and number stitched onto it?

    I love the red, white and blue trim around the collar, shoulders and shorts. The white block number looks nice, no name on the back, and a small grb on the top left of the jersey.
    Very, very underrated jersey. Probably one of the best I’ve ever seen at the Olympics.

    I hate how modern basketball jerseys don’t really have a trim around the collars and shorts anymore, and the shoulder straps tend to be so much wider (like a sleeveless tshirt), with the shorts longer and baggier, and the collar/neck area more like a V instead of the classic U. I haven’t worn or bought a basketball jersey in 15 years because of this ugly hip-hop style.

    The Croatia jerseys are all like this now too, and (unfortunately) are cluttered with sponsors like HEP on the front. World and Olympic Basketball has taken such a hit, with US players rarely showing up…teams adding non-citizen players to their rosters, and uglier basketball jerseys.



  9. Soul Champ says:

    It was some place in the Philippines on line.

    Pretty good quality mesh.

    They love basketball in the Philippines and probably some guy saw a little business for himself.

    I also made a #44 Portland jersey through the NBA website by ordering a plain black and customizing it with Petrović on the back.

    I usually wear them in June in my pick up game in commemoration of his passing.

    True story I met both him and Šuker.

    The gulf between their Soul Champ quotient to this day still blows my mind.

    Dražen was a champion for Croatia and a member of all of our families.



  10. Zoki says:

    I watched that episode of the Last Dance and I also found it a bit strange that Petro didn’t get at least a shout out.
    Ok – I get it – it’s about the Bulls, but this was a guy that was averaging 22 a game on a lousy Nets team that year and shooting 45% from 3. (for the second year in a row)
    45%!!! C’mon. What would that be worth in today’s NBA?
    Legend.



  11. Dannyj says:

    What’s the rules on wearing a Jersey with petrovic name on it?
    That is only honoring a cro warrior
    But I’m sure ziva would call it sniffing

    Ya I’m sure Petro would kill it now

    I don’t watch basketball at all these days
    But watching the last dance just confirms how we are all just so soft these days
    Those guys were freaking battling hard out there back in the day

    Would you guys say the guys today are more talented? Sure the game has evolved
    But would Jordan dismantle everyone like he did right now?



  12. Maminjo says:

    I just read that Modric had a verbal agreement to join Milan next season.

    But that is now gone because Boban was sacked.

    LOL. What a disaster for Milan.

    Ibrahimovic is also likely on his way out (he has a meeting with Milan leadership soon) as he was also brought in by Boban.

    Apparently, they are targeting Rakitic this summer (along with Inter) but Rakitic won’t reduce his salary (which is the sticking point). But since Boban is gone, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Raketa is not going to sign in Milan anyway.

    Milan with both Modric and Rakitic in the central midfield in Serie A, gone because of Gazidis wanting to create another Arsenal FC type club in Milan.

    Now the guy he’s after (Ralph Rangnick) is still not sure of coming over.



  13. Crotown says:

    I remember 1991 and everybody was like – forget Toni – that Petrovic guy is unreal- that was a great memory of the Americans being shocked by Petrović



  14. Poglavnik says:

    I remember hearing that in 92 too. I always associated Toni with being the hyped up one and Drazen the lesser talked about star.
    I dont remember anything about the 92 Olympics other than the basketball. I was only a teenager but I’ll never forget the bbq and viewing party I was at for that gold medal game.



  15. Soul Champ says:

    Gazidis = Peder.

    Men win trophies.

    Hrvati like Boban, Modrić, Ibrahimović, Rakitic.

    Now you can throw in Rebić.



  16. Anonymous says:

    Well I was once talking to a black protestant about the passing of Kobe Bryant, the guy was waffling on about how Kobe was murdered by white supremicists and all sorts of other vile crap. I said to this guy, “why are so focused on race, don’t you know that Kobe was a Catholic and spiritually my brother and not yours?”

    The black protestant racist quickly shut his mouth.

    Also, Petro was a Catholic and not a member of all our families, some people here are communists, sorry if that upsets anyone.

    Bog i Hrvati

    ZDS

    =U= that’s for Nick Nizic



  17. Johnny jockich says:

    Does anyone recall the medal ceremony when the dream team was getting their medals …they were all looking around because all you could hear was “ HRVATSKA HRVATSKA!” …they had no clue what it meant…priceless



  18. Anonymous says:

    My favourite moment was when Petro made those free throws against the Unified team, made the first then promptly pumped his fist to the Croatian fans before even making the second free throw, which of course he made!

    https://youtu.be/Bomxj_s8jpM



  19. Maminjo says:

    1992 semifinal against Russia was heart stopping.

    Terrible defense in the last two minutes by both teams lol.

    How Russia got two chances like that in the last few seconds of the game took years off my life.



  20. Maminjo says:

    Saddest thing is that our 1994 team played better than our ’92 team (despite the huge loss of Petrović) and Dream Team II was much weaker.

    Russia was also weaker in ’94 and there was no Lithuania at that tournament.

    Croatia was steamrolling everyone.

    The Croatian Canadian diaspora cost us a Finals appearance. They got our boys drunk the night before the semifinals. It was just enough for Russia to squeeze by us, despite Kukoč and Radja being completely hung over while playing.



  21. Soul Champ says:

    @ Maminjo

    That is the story of Ivanišević at the US Open.

    NYC was too much partying.

    Until my man Čilić represented.



  22. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Suba, Maminjo, Soul Champ…..

    I’m not trying to be a pain in the ass but I want you guys to go to sportklub.her and see what we were talking about last couple weeks regarding Boksic.

    here are two comments:

    U razgovoru koji je trajao nešto više od pola sata, Vieri i Del Piero su se prisjetili i nekadašnjeg “vatrenog” Alena Bokšića.

    Vieri je s Bokšićem dijelio svlačionicu u Juventusu i Laziju, dok je Del Piero s njim zajedno dijelio svlačionicu u Juventusu.

    Del Piero je rekao za Bokšića:

    “Bio je ogroman i snažan, a jako brz. Driblao je sve, ali onda… Da je postigao 20% golova iz onoliko šansi koje je imao, dao bi 1200 golova. Ali to je jedina mana, ostalo je bio impresivan. Vidio sam ga jednom da se oznojio. Napravi 1200 sprinteva i vidiš mu jednu kap znoja…Poseban nogometaš”, zaključio je Del Piero.

    A Vieri se s većinom navedenog složio.

    “Bokšić je bio ogroman, a strašno brz. To se još nije vidjelo nikad, pa onda dribling desnom, lijevom…Svima ovo govorim, on je bio impresivan”, dijelio je komplimente na račun Bokšića legendarni talijanski napadač.

    Bokšić je u svojoj karijeri osvojio 9 trofeja, bio je prvak Francuske (Marseille) i Italije (Juventus, Lazio), prvak Europe (Marseille), svijeta (Juventus), osvajač dva Kupa Italije i Kupa UEFA (Lazio), a postigao je i odlučujući gol u povijesnom posljednjem finalu Kupa Jugoslavije, kada je s Hajdukom svladao Crvenu zvezdu (1991.).



  23. Anonymous says:

    Not taking Croatian league into account, but only what they did abroad, I’m not sure if in their club careers Mandzukic would even have more goals than Boksic?

    And I know which of the two I would rather watch.



  24. Maminjo says:

    @Anonymous

    Not to politicize the whole Kobe thing (I’m neither of fan or a hater of his) but he definitely went too far with that girl.

    Time served doesn’t reflect innocence or guilt.

    The case files in that one is an eye opener.

    Kobe not only sexually assaulted her, but he ratted out Shaq to the police suggesting that he does stuff like this all the time. It’s pretty bad.



  25. Elviss says:

    There are some here on Kobe’s dick why?
    He isn’t one of us and I think he did rape
    That girl. Fuck the Lakers bunch of homosex
    People. Real Hrvati like Larry Bird and McHale.



  26. Soul Champ says:

    Sportklub.hr in the house!!

    Bokšić was a beast.

    Yes he had some untimely injuries that derailed his career in many ways.

    The context of our Bokšić conversation was in comparison to Olić.

    Who knows how injuries at certain points of your career affect your sharpness in the final third?

    Del Piero .. how about that chance against France in 2000?

    If Boksic is healthy and more prolific then we are talking Balon Dor level.

    Hajduk – Marseille – Lazio he was a big time performer.

    His goal against Ukraine takes us to our first World Cup, knee injury right before France ‘98.

    He leads Ćiro Blažević-Marseille to the UEFA champions league title.

    I wish many things for all our athletes to be better but at what cost to how good they actually were/are?

    Hrvati are the most educated broke people in Europe.

    This gives complexities that at times blocks our appreciation of who we are and what we offer to the world.

    Alen Bokšić top 5 Croatian footballer.

    I pray for another Alen Bokšić and Dražen Petrović.

    Hunting BEASTS!!



  27. Anonymous says:

    @Elviss

    You didn’t even read my comment you idiot. You saw a black man’s name and felt compelled to write a comment.

    I never said Kobe was a Croat you idiot, I said he was a Catholic and spiritually my brother and not the black protestants, the black protestant was then smart enough to shut his mouth.

    Your type would believe that cetnik Vlade Divac is one of us, you know, because he’s white lol.



  28. Poglavnik says:

    Physically imposing but gifted with excellent technique and searing pace, Bokšić was a riddle many found impossible to solve. “I don’t know who is better,” former teammate Slaven Bilić once said when asked to compare Bokšić with his attacking partner, Davor Šuker. “If you ask me as a centre-back, when you play against Bokšić, he would have slaughtered you. Running, dribbling, going left in the channel. He’d kick you, beat you, whatever. But maybe he wouldn’t score. But Šuker? You’d have a good game against him, but then he’d score a couple.”

    That was from the Bokšić story within the link I posted earlier.



  29. Nick Nizic says:

    Some of you people have too many Y chromosomes, give me a break , I like the red and blue around the collar haaaa what are they gonna put green and purple fucken jock sniffers , where are all the fucken real Hrvati , fuck me were in for it , they’re gonna sell the whole country.

    =U=
    Za Dom
    I Ap



  30. Suba says:

    Yeah del Piero was a one dimensional player who only had one play going down the left side line then cutting back into the box and then trying to curl the shot in the top right hand corner

    That it that all he had he fuckin wishes he had one sliver of Boksic skill fuckin Italian Peder

    Za dom I artukovic



  31. Anonymous says:

    Ante Pavelić and Andrija Artuković are your real deal Croats, no way those two would’ve been sucked in by Franjo Tudjman’s “lažna pomirba.”



  32. Anonymous says:

    @Elviss, New Zealander singer ‘Lorde’ is half Croatian half Irish, her mother’s maiden name is Yelich, same as baseball player Christian Yelich, who is of Serbian descent.



  33. Anonymous says:

    The thing that stood out the most to me in Divac’s 30 for 30 production about Petrovic was when those two young Croatian men(still teenagers I believe) walked out on to the basketball court with a Croatian flag during a time they could have been hanged for doing so. I fucking love that. Oh yea mother fuckers, we’re serious.
    Practically everything that is accepted today was at one point considered “extremist” but White people can’t possibly demand independence from “diversity” right? That’s beyond EXTREME, right?



  34. Anonymous says:

    The thing that I got out of the 30 for 30 “Once brothers” was, that Divac is lying son of the devil. He said he was a proud Yugoslav, but get this, his Yugoslavia was broken up because of greater Serbian aggression, and today he is a Serb. Serbs are full o’ shit just like @Pro white guy, who I have no doubt is a Serb himself.

    Bog i Hrvati

    =U=



  35. Anonymous says:

    @Pro croatian guy, I said I loved the fact Croatians declared independence, what about that makes you think I’m Serbian? Are you a fucking retard? And I love the fact that you morons who hate Serbs talk about “tolerance” to me, fucking hypocrites.



  36. Anonymous says:

    ^

    Who started the war mortherfucker, Croats by declaring independence?
    Why the fuck would communists like Tudjman want independence from Yugoslavia you dumb motherfucker?

    Croats were led by the nose into war by the Serbs and commies you dumb little shit, why no lustration in Croatia you little cigan?

    You said you prefer cetniks to communists, you dumb little shit, you are a Serb, I know it and you know it.

    =U=



  37. Anonymous says:

    I’ll explain it again stupid, I’ll take a nationalist over a communist or any other religious fanatic because by definition a nationalist respects the right of other nations to exist. Understand now, you fucking moron?



  38. Anonymous says:

    Man, you guys are obsessed with Serbs, you make Hitler look like he was an admirer of Jews, only about 5% of Mein Kampf was dedicated to talking about Jews.



  39. Anonymous says:

    ^

    But you have a problem with nationalists killing communists in war because of words?

    So if cetniks respect another nations right to exist, and you said Croats declared independence, why was there a war you little shit?



  40. Anonymous says:

    @anti white, your a fucking moron. the war was nationalists against wordists-communists. Now that there’s been independence/segregation, the violence has stopped. Just like when Europeans were endlessly killing each other over words, protestants vs catholics. Once the nation states took over, the violence ended.



  41. Anonymous says:

    The pro White says what stood out to him most was the act of defiance by young Croatian revolutionaries.

    The anti White says what stood out to him most was how much he hates Divac and how much he hates “mongoloid serbs”.

    And anti Whites always accuse us of “hate” and “racism”. A pathological liar is not fazed by being exposed as a hypocrite over and over and over again.



  42. Anonymous says:

    “And the nationalists were atheists?”

    No, but they don’t kill other nationalists over words. Marxism, Communism, Political Correctness are religions. But I respect Christians because you can’t prove our faith is false, you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Communist and Political Correctness religions are SILLY – I do it all the time.

    I answered your question, now you answer mine: How can you be pro Croatian and anti White at the same time?





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