"I love Pizza Hut. Oh, the Supreme Pizza. [That's the one with everything on it.] It's great. I eat it five times this week. I want to open Pizza Hut in Yugoslavia. I want to see Eddie Murphy and Whitney Houston and Jack Nicholson. I want to buy a Mitsubishi. I love Marlboro cigarettes."
His favorite food is pizza. Or did he already mention that?
?Trail Blazer guard Drazen Petrovic (DRAH-zin PET-row-vitch), Yugoslavia, 25, 6'5", 195 pounds. Petrovic, who had surgery to remove a disc fragment in his back in September, missed the entire preseason. But when he returns to the lineup, he can be penciled in as the first guard off the bench, behind Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter. You don't pay a player $1 million to watch him collect dust. The big question is whether Petrovic can—or will be allowed to—play with the Pete Maravich-type flair that he displayed in Europe.
Though Petrovic speaks English well, the man who was called Brazen Drazen in Europe for his outspokenness has been quiet and uncontroversial in the U.S.
?Hawk forward Alexander Volkov—(you know how to pronounce Alexander; the second name is VOHL-kov), Soviet Union, 25, 6'10", 218 pounds. Atlanta wanted Volkov a few years ago and sang his praises but then had doubts about his shooting and backed off. After he played brilliantly against the Hawks in a three-game series in the Soviet Union in 1988 and followed that with another strong performance in the Seoul Olympics, Volkov became valuable again in the eyes of Hawk management. Good thing, because he has drawn raves throughout the preseason, and coach Mike Fratello sees him as a major part of a nine-or 10-man Hawk rotation. He will begin the season as Dominique Wilkins's backup at small forward, but he will also get playing time at power forward and perhaps at shooting guard.
Volkov is an engaging sort with a face that suggests Howdy Doody in a rather handsome way, if that's possible. He understands almost everything but still has trouble with the nuances of the English language. In the preseason, for example, Moses Malone started calling him Gym, because that's where he could always be found, working on his game. "Why this Jim?" Volkov asked someone. "My name not Jim." Or perhaps he did understand but just couldn't believe that Malone was making a joke.
Will any of the foreigners make a significant impact? And how do things shape up for 1989-90? Here's our assessment of who will make the playoffs and who will finish down the track.