After they won against the Unified Team (a joint team consisting of twelve of the fifteen former Soviet republics that chose to compete together), Toni Kukoč, Dino Rađa, and their teammates started celebrating like they won the whole thing. Dražen Petrović was not pleased.
“He went over to every single player and told them ‘No celebrating. We have the Finals ahead of us and we can beat those guys.‘”Aleksandar Petrović, Podcast Inkubator
With the Dream Team waiting, making it to the Finals was as good as winning. Dražen was the only one who wasn’t there to lose and collect the silver medal. For a moment, the Croatian team did make history. A transition dunk and a free throw by Franjo Arapović gave the Croats a 25:23 lead. That was the only time in the entire tournament Team USA was trailing someone. Not only that – it was the only time Chuck Daly called a time-out during the Olympics.
Moments later, Charles Barkley drained a shot and it was hasta la vista Croatia. After the game, Michael Jordan went over to Dražen Petrović to congratulate him for a great tournament. MJ looked over Petro’s shoulder and saw a familiar face on the Croatian bench. He asked Dražen who that guy was.
“‘That’s my brother’ said Dražen. At that point, I came over, and Jordan told me “You’re the guy that massacred me 10 years ago in Zadar. I never forgot that!’”Aleksandar Petrović, Podcast Inkubator
Back in 1982, Michael Jordan was a part of Team USA which at that time consisted of only college players. They came to Croatia, then a member state of Yugoslavia to play the Yugoslavian National Team as preparation for the World Championship in Columbia.
A 17 year old Dražen and a 19 year old Michael played against each other for the first time, but they weren’t matched up. Dražen’s older brother Aleksandar was assigned to Jordan, and fighting for a position on the National Team, Aco went 110% from the first whistle.
“I have a young kid in front of me, and I’m trying to secure a spot on the National Team to go to Columbia. I was 23 years old and went out for blood. I can’t say what I did to him because it’s NSFW, but I physically massacred him.”Aleksandar Petrović, Podcast Inkubator
Aco managed to secure a spot and went to Columbia where Yugoslavia won 3rd place. But Michael Jordan never forgot the maniac that beat him up during a random game in Zadar, in front of 3000 people, when he was 19 years old.