Marčiulionis during his masterclass visit in Armenia (June 2014)
June 13, 1964 |
Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
|Listed height||6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)|
|Listed weight||200 lb (91 kg)|
|NBA draft||1987 / Round: 6 / Pick: 127th overall|
|Selected by the Golden State Warriors|
|Number||13, 30, 8|
|1981–1989||Statyba (Soviet Union)|
|1989–1994||Golden State Warriors|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NBA statistics|
|Points||4,631 (12.8 ppg)|
|Rebounds||819 (2.3 rpg)|
|Assists||807 (2.2 apg)|
|Stats at Basketball-Reference.com|
|Basketball Hall of Fame as player|
|FIBA Hall of Fame as player|
Raimondas Šarūnas Marčiulionis ([ˈrɐ̂ˑɪ̯mɔndɐs ʂɐˈrûːnɐs mɐrʲt͡ʃʊˈlʲôːnʲɪs] ( listen)) (born June 13, 1964) is a Lithuanian retired professional basketball player. Born in Kaunas, he was one of the first Europeans to become a regular in the North American National Basketball Association (NBA). In the 1988 Seoul Olympics Basketball Tournament, together with teammate Arvydas Sabonis, he led the USSR national team to a gold medal in basketball. On August 8, 2014, Marčiulionis was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.
Marčiulionis was the second son of Laimutė, a geography teacher, and Juozas, an engineer. Given Laimutė aggravated her spinal injury giving birth to his sister Zita, her determination in having a son led to the middle name Šarūnas, invoking a legendary knight from Vincas Krėvė-Mickevičius's works. Growing up in Kaunas, Marčiulionis took up tennis growing up, being an ambidextrous player focused on forehands. Given the unorthodox technique and an increasingly bulkier frame, he eventually gave up on the sport. At the age of 13, following an hospitalization caused by makeshift explosives, Marčiulionis changed to basketball. In a Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic struck by poverty and degradation, he and his friends had to build their own outdoor basketball court on a parking lot. As he moved to Vilnius to study journalism at Vilnius State University of Vincas Kapsukas and possibly try out for the Soviet junior national team, all Marčiulionis' parents could provide him was "one bag containing a very small amount of clothes, and another full of apples.”
While Marčiulionis attended college, he rarely played basketball, but eventually attracted a scout from Statyba of the USSR League in 1981. In 1982 and 1983, he played sparingly with the Soviet juniors, and won a silver medal at the 1983 FIBA Under-19 World Championship in Spain. Still, afterwards Marčiulionis frequently was the last man cut from the Soviet Union national basketball team training camps until he got his chance in 1987, having a breakout performance while winning a silver medal at EuroBasket 1987. Marčiulionis would also be one of the standout players as the Soviets won the gold medal at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
During a 1985 game against Athletes in Action in Vilnius, Marčiulionis struck a friendship with one of the players, Donnie Nelson, despite the language barrier. Nelson's father Don Nelson was the coach of the Golden State Warriors, and what he said about Marčiulionis skills led the Warriors to draft him in the 6th round of the 1987 NBA draft. Stan Kasten, president and general manager of the Atlanta Hawks, managed to void the pick by showing Marčiulionis was 23, one year older than the age the draft rules limited for European players. The Hawks then pursued to draft Marčiulionis using then-owner Ted Turner's connections with the Soviet Union, inviting him and other Soviet players to their training camp, and arranging for Hawks-USSR matches in Moscow in 1988. While Marčiulionis signed a contract with Atlanta the day after he won the gold in Seoul, the team wound up not submitting it to the National Basketball Association's offices as the Soviets said they would not permit the player to leave.
Eventually Nelson's influence, as he helped Marčiulionis with his social projects in Vilnius, led him to remain with the Warriors, with whom he signed a three-year $3.8 million contract in 1989. Marčiulionis became the first Soviet player to join the North American league, and played four years with the Warriors, finishing as the runner-up for the Sixth Man of the Year Award in both 1992 and 1993. Marčiulionis became one of the first Europeans to get significant playing time in the NBA, helping to lead the way for the internationalization of the league in the late 1990s. After missing a year and a half with a leg injury, he was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994, then traded to the Sacramento Kings in 1995, and he finished his NBA career with the Denver Nuggets in the 1996–97 season.
Lithuanian national basketball team
Following the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990, Marčiulionis almost single-handedly resurrected the Lithuanian national team. He contacted prospective players, encouraged several to join, selected the uniforms, negotiated a shoe deal, and arranged for sponsorships along with friend Donnie Nelson. Deals struck by him included Bank of America and rock band Grateful Dead, who were interested in supporting Lithuania after reading a story on Marčiulionis and the national team in the San Francisco Chronicle. Grateful Dead also helped launch a line of tie-dyed jerseys trade that would feature Lithuania's national colors, along with a slam dunking skeleton created by New York artist Greg Speirs. Speirs became a major sponsor when he donated 100% of his profits from his design to fund the team and to Lithuanian children's charities amounting to at least $450,000. The team went on to win a bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympics.
Marčiulionis was again a bronze medalist with Lithuania at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Basketball Tournament. In 1995, he was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1995 FIBA EuroBasket, after leading Lithuania to a silver medal in the tournament. In 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1991, he was voted as the best sportsman in Lithuania.
Even with language barriers, Marčiulionis was a devoted teammate and active in the communities he played in. In 1987, he helped a Panevėžys man get an artificial heart valve for his son by appealing to Donnie Nelson, who arranged an operation for the teenager in the United States. In the aftermath of the 1989 San Francisco earthquake, Marčiulionis appeared at the site of a commuter train accident wearing his Warriors warm up outfit and helped by pulling out trapped passengers and administering first aid.
In addition, his wife Inga enrolled at Merritt College, a junior college in the Oakland hills, and she walked on to their women's basketball team and was a star player there for two seasons. Inga became one of 147 women in women's college basketball history to score 50 or more points in a college game while at Merritt, and today is the head coach of Merritt's women's team.
Post playing career
In 1992, Marčiulionis opened the Šarūnas Hotel in Vilnius. In 1993, he founded the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) and also became its president. In 1999, Marčiulionis founded the North European Basketball League (NEBL) and also became its commissioner. The NEBL would later be absorbed into today's Baltic Basketball League. Today, he is one of the most successful businessmen in Lithuania. He is also currently the president of the Šarūnas Marčiulionis Basketball Academy.
On February 14, 2014, Marčiulionis was announced as a 2014 player inductee by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; he formally entered the Hall on August 8. On September 19, 2015, Marčiulionis was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|
- Jenkins: Marciulionis’ Impact Goes Beyond Basketball
- 'I Have To Open People's Eyes'
- A Soviet Hoopster In the Promised Land
- "Warriors Sign Marchulenis, First NBA Soviet". Los Angeles Times. June 25, 1989. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- "Marciulionis, Houston Are Traded for Pierce, Rogers". Los Angeles Times. July 19, 1994. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- "Sonics Trade Houston, Marciulionis To Kings". Seattle Times. September 18, 1995. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- "PRO BASKETBALL;Nuggets Trade Abdul-Rauf, Acquire Pacers' Jackson". New York Times. June 14, 1996. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
- Woolf, Alexander (2002). Big Game, Small World: A Basketball Adventure. New York City: Warner Books. p. 20. ISBN 0-446-52601-0.
- Alan Siegel. "Remembering The Joyous, Tie-Dyed All-Stars Of The 1992 Lithuanian Basketball Team". Deadspin. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- "Dead head art scores". USA Today. June 23, 1993. 2C.
- John Clarke. "Doc Outs Olympic Dream Team". Forbes. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- Kelley: Playing for more than a prized gold medal
- "Tie-Dyed Lithuanian Slam-Dunking Skeleton® Back for “The Other Dream Team” Documentary". The Lithuania Tribune. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- Goldaper, Sam (December 4, 1990). "King Renegotiates His Own Contract". The New York Times. Retrieved March 27, 2010.
- Smith, Michelle (December 27, 2001). "Cal's Volkova making progress". The San Francisco Chronicle.
- Woolf, Big Game, Small World, pp. 19–20.
- "Five Direct-Elect Members Announced for the Class of 2014 by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame" (Press release). Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. February 14, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2014.
- "heinnews – Marčiulionis gives back in more ways than one". heinnews. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
- "2015 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame inducted". FIBA.com. September 19, 2015. Retrieved October 18, 2015.
- "Užrakina „Šarūno“ viešbutį" (in Lithuanian). Delfi. October 2, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
- "Sostinėje nėra vietos krepšiniui: garsenybės kūdikį pakeis daugiabučiai" (in Lithuanian). Delfi. November 26, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2016.