30 for 30: Season 1, Episode 25

Once Brothers (12 Oct. 2010)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, Biography, Sport
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Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac were two friends who grew up together sharing the common bond of basketball. Together, they lifted the Yugoslavian National team to unimaginable heights. ... See full summary »


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Title: Once Brothers (12 Oct 2010)

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Episode credited cast:
Rick Adelman ...
Danny Ainge ...
Kenny Anderson ...
James Baker III ...
Himself (archive footage)
Derrick Coleman ...
Vlade Divac ...
Joe Dumars ...
Bill Fitch ...
Chick Hearn ...
Himself (archive footage)
Mark Heisler ...
Jan Hubbard ...
Toni Kukoc ...


Drazen Petrovic and Vlade Divac were two friends who grew up together sharing the common bond of basketball. Together, they lifted the Yugoslavian National team to unimaginable heights. After conquering Europe, they both went to America where they became the first two foreign players to attain NBA stardom. But with the fall of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day 1991, Yugoslavia split up. A war broke out between Petrovic's Croatia and Divac's Serbia. Long buried ethnic tensions surfaced. And these two men, once brothers, were now on opposite sides of a deadly civil war. As Petrovic and Divac continued to face each other on the basketball courts of the NBA, no words passed between the two. Then, on the fateful night of June 7, 1993, Drazen Petrovic was killed in an auto accident. "Once Brothers" will tell the gripping tale of these two men, how circumstances beyond their control tore apart their friendship, and whether Divac has ever come to terms with the death of a friend before they ... Written by Anonymous

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croatia | serbia | See All (2) »


Dreams brought them together. Reality tore them apart.



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12 October 2010 (USA)  »

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Interesting, engaging and moving with great warmth and honesty from all those involved (but Divac in particular)
6 February 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Within sports there will always be stories – the season where the team came back from nowhere to win the title, the season where the team didn't lose a single game and so on, and to a certain degree these stories are captured forever in the stats. However within any season or match there will always be specifics and it is these that are the things people tell each other about in pubs and often this oral history is the main way these stories remain. This is why i have enjoyed many of these ESPN film because they do a good job of looking at the smaller stories behind the sports. With Once Brothers the film offered me the appeal of knowing the people involved but yet not knowing the story.

It was the mid-90's when I started playing and watching basketball and I such I of course came to know the names of the European players such as Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc and others because they were excellent players, however by the time they entered my sphere of knowledge, the story of this film had happened already. And so it was I watched the film without knowing what happened to Drazen Petrovic or, at one point, quite what story I was being told. For the first half of the film we are filled in on the history of the young Yugoslavian team and how some of the stars from there came to the NBA. The story starts to focus on Divac (who has been our presenter and narrator) and his friend Petrovic, showing the early NBA careers of both – with Petrovic in particular capable of more than Portland was offering him.

When the war breaks out the film then follows the fracturing between Divac and the rest of the team – in particular the death of the friendship with Petrovic and the importance of one interaction with a flag after a European match. This thread is followed until the tragic end to the story. The telling is really good throughout and the focus on Divac is a strength because he has a great warmth and is natural in front of camera – he may or may not be incredibly wealthy but he certainly doesn't come over like a spoilt sports star. His narration and his honesty makes the film compelling and, in addition to the details, it is quite moving. The presentation does add some stuff that the facts don't need – for example the sad music played over war footage felt like it was overegging it for no reason. Mostly though it is bang on the money; it shows some great footage from the Nets with Petrovic showing his quality against Michael Jordan and it makes the civil war in Yugoslavia easy to understand. The access to the players and the families is good and it really puts a human face on the story and it is sad that the two men never had a chance to come together having be torn apart by arbitrary political lines on a map.

Well presented, engaging, moving and informative; this is a great film that tells a sports story I never knew – it benefits greatly from the warm honesty of Divac as presenter and subject.

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