Nanos gigantium humeris insidentes (Latin for ‘dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants’) is a metaphor most commonly applied in scientific fields to describe new achievements resulting from previous breakthroughs, usually not by the same person. The most wide-spread example might be physicist Isaac Newton, who is quoted as saying: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
At ‘just’ 6 ft 5 in, Dražen Petrovic is one of those giants for the game of basketball. Already a decorated star player in Europe with peerless talent and an unmatched competitive spirit, the trailblazing path he set out on – starting off in Portland, ironically enough – has undoubtedly changed the game, especially for players and fans on this side of the pond.
He certainly wasn’t the first European player to enter the NBA, but Dražen was definitely the first Euro who had the ambition as well as the capabilities to become a franchise player in the best league on the planet. And while it may sound dramatic, his contributions have plain and simply changed the game forever. Today, three of the NBA’s best players are Europeans, and these champions and MVPs are standing on the shoulders of one Dražen Petrovic!
If you haven’t, make sure to watch the emotional documentary Once Brothers on the relationship between Dražen and Vlade Divac, the fellow former Yugoslavian-international and NBA star. And if you have seen the film, Dražen’s birthday is as good a day as any to re-watch it.
It’s no secret that Dražen Petrovic holds a special place in the hearts of many at BSTN. The reason that putting up a framed picture of the Hall of Famer in the foyer was one of the first things the crew did after moving into the new BSTN campus is not just the regional ties he shares with key members of the staff. It’s the feeling of appreciation and gratitude for his contributions to the game we love so dearly.
On his birthday, we reminisce about the Mozart of basketball. RIP, legend!