Many Americans grew up wanting to be like Mike.
But for those in Europe, especially from the countries that make up the former Yugoslavia, the idol was Drazen Petrovic, who became an elite scoring guard with the New Jersey Nets before his death in a car accident in 1993 at age 28.
Current Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic is no exception. As a youngster, the Slovenian-born Dragic idolized Petrovic and has tried to emulate him. Petrovic played for the Yugoslavia national team and then the Croatia national team. Dragic is the captain of the Slovenia national team and was named MVP as it won its first European basketball championship with a victory over Serbia on Monday.
Dragic wore No. 3 during the championship, and that caught the eye of Petrovic's mother, who wanted to honor Dragic by giving him her son's No. 3 Nets jersey.
Dragic is the latest in a long line of basketball players from Eastern Europe who have played in the NBA, and many of them can thank Petrovic, a Hall of Famer, for helping to show them the way.
-- John Silver