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'Once Brothers' an emotional journey for former Laker Vlade Divac

October 11, 2010 | 12:41 pm

Brothers_300 When he watches "Once Brothers," Vlade Divac says he's both happy and sad. The ESPN 30-for-30 film, which debuts Tuesday at 5 p.m. PDT, tells the story of the complicated, rewarding, joyous and tragic relationship between Divac, a gruff Serbian who forged a long and well-respected NBA career, and Croatian Drazen Petrovic, who seemed on course for an all-star-caliber NBA career before he was killed in an automobile accident.

The film chronicles the political minefield the two men navigated -- Divac and Petrovic were national teammates for Yugoslavia before the country fractured and Serbia and Croatia fought a bloody war.

Speaking from Serbia last week, Divac said that when he looks back now, the division between the countries was just "nonsense, emotions." Despite the outside pressures put on Divac and Petrovic because of politics, Divac said each always respected the other. Divac said he was vacationing in Hawaii when he saw a news report about the death of Petrovic.

"He enjoyed basketball so much," Divac said. "What is amazing about him is that he is still a basketball icon not only in Croatia but in Serbia too. When he was playing back in Europe, he was the guy you either loved or hated."

Divac, now president of the Serbian Olympic Committee, narrated the film that was produced under the direction of NBA Entertainment.

-- Diane Pucin

 Photo: Vlade Divac, left, and Drazen Petrovic. Credit: NBA Entertainment