Dražen became a member of the most prestigious Spanish basketball club, Real Madrid, on 8 October 1988. At that time, he was already Europe’s greatest star. In Madrid he touched the sky. A new period had begun. Less than ten months later, Dražen became by far the most popular basketball player and athlete in Spain. He stayed in Madrid for 365 days. He wore jersey number 5, played 47 games for Real Madrid and scored 1,026 points, an average of 28.3 points per game. In his first 45 days with Real he won the King’s Cup and was named the Most Valuable Player of the game. His team defeated Barcelona in the finals of the Spanish Cup.
In the final of the Spanish Championship Real lost to Barcelona. People say that Real suffered a great injustice since they dominated for 33 minutes but the starting five had to be benched because of foul trouble. Without Dražen Real could not make it. Although Real did not win the Spanish championship of 1988-1989, Dražen was the top scorer.
While playing for Real in 1988, Dražen participated in the second “McDonald’s Championship” in Madrid. Along with the legendary Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics, he was named the best shooter in the tournament.
Dražen played with Real in the semi-finals of the European Cup Winner’s Cup against Cibona in 1989 in Zagreb. The future Dražen Petrović Hall was filled to overflowing. Dražen said that he would be forever grateful to the Zagreb audience for their welcome. To defeat Real with Dražen, even a one-point win would have been a great victory. At the very end of the game the score was 92-91 for Cibona. But Dražen had two free throws. Everyone was begging: “Miss these two, Dražen, it doesn’t matter to you … we will get the prize money.” He looked at them, smiled and made both. He simply did not know how to lose. In the second leg game in Madrid he scored 27 points in the first 17 minutes. If he wanted to, he could have scored 100 by the end of the game. He stopped shooting and only handed out assists, scoring two or three points the rest of the way. This was probably the only game in which he did not want to give his best. He stopped. There was no reason to continue, a fifty-point win against his old club.
In the finals of the European Cup Winner’s Cup, Real played in Athens against Snaidero from Caserta. The final score was 117-113, with Dražen scoring a career-high 62 points.
- 1989 Spanish Cup winners, the European Cup Winner’s Cup winners and the Spanish Championship finalists