Not so long ago, the NBA was taken for assault by a couple of extremely talented ballers out of Yugoslavia, Vlade Divac and DrazenPetrovic; two of the greatest players in European basketball history, as Well as two inseparable best friends from the very first day they met each other.
Both Divac and Petrovic spent their youth playing for Yugoslavia’s teams, forging a great friendship that was only made stronger when Petrovic was a member of the Portland Trail Blazers and was going through a major depression and Divac was his confident and greatest support.
Divac and Petrovic were completely unstoppable during the eighties, making Yugoslavia the most feared national selection in basketball, but that legacy would have to be broken due to political issues between Croatia (the native homeland of Petrovic) and Serbia (where Divac was from).
This European region has never been aside from independent conflicts that have led to the separations of thousands of families and friends, and sadly Divac and Petrovic were no exceptions to this rule, as Drazen even refused to say hello to Vlade during the conflict between both nations.
So, after the Soviet Union fell apart and the war between both countries started, Divac and Petrovic never shared a single word ever again despite being the most significant representants of Yugoslavian basketball, completely wasting a great opportunity to put differences aside and give a message of union and peace to the world.
And, to make things even sadder, Drazen Petrovic tragically passed away in a car accident just a couple of years after the conflict started, leaving this planet before Divac even had the chance to try and make things right between the two.
Petrovic was one of the most talented sharpshooters in the history of basketball, and his versatility and competitive spirit make him an all-time great, while there’s absolutely nothing we can say about Vlade that hasn’t been said already, influencing world basketball in so many different ways (in fact, if it wasn’t for him, Kobe Bryant would’ve never been a Los Angeles Laker).
Sadly, no matter how incredibly talented and how close both players were, nobody can escape the polarization and horrors that war creates around them, and this broken friendship has to remain as a huge example for generations to come, proving that absolutely nothing should come between a couple of friends, and especially not politics.
In fact, this broken relationship was so famous (or infamous) that they made a documentary about it in 2010 called once brothers, where you can find declarations of both Divac and Petrovic regarding the situation in their native countries and between the two.
Basketball is the most beautiful sport in the world and it should be used to bring people together instead of aside, and even if there are a lot of wounds that won’t heal in the foreseeable future, we should try our best to leave tensions and conflicts behind us, and never let politics destroy the beautiful bonds we create with our beloved ones.