Nets' Petrovic killed in crash in Germany

June 08, 1993|By Mike Freeman | Mike Freeman,New York Times News Service

Drazen Petrovic, the New Jersey Nets' 28-year-old guard and leading scorer, was killed in an automobile accident last night in Germany, according to his father.

Reached by telephone at his home in Croatia, Jole Petrovic confirmed reports of his son's death.

But there were conflicting reports of exactly how Petrovic had died. Paul Silas, a Nets assistant coach, said he had heard that Petrovic and his girlfriend, who lives in Germany, were killed instantly when their automobile ran into the back of a truck. Silas said he had been told this by Mark Fleisher, an agent for Dino Radja, the former NBA player who is a close friend of Petrovic.

Nets coach Chuck Daly, in an interview with the Madison Square Garden network, said Petrovic was killed when his car struck a tree.

"This whole thing is stunning," said Silas. "I don't know what to say. We're hearing all of this now and we're hearing it all very sketchy. But it seems like this is no mistake."

Petrovic, New Jersey's leading scorer this past season with a 22.3-point average, was in Europe practicing for the Croatian national basketball team. He returned to Croatia immediately after the season when the Nets were eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs.

This season Petrovic became a restricted free agent, meaning he would be free to negotiate with any team, but the Nets had the right to match any offer. But he was in a contract dispute with the Nets and had criticized the team for not respecting him.

According to Warren LeGarie, Petrovic's agent, Petrovic had agreed to terms earlier yesterday with two Greek teams, Panaphinaikos and Olympikaos. But he had not yet signed and still could have returned to the NBA.

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