Vincenzo Esposito

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Vincenzo Esposito
Pistoia Basket 2000
League Serie A
Personal information
Born (1969-03-01) March 1, 1969 (age 48)
Caserta, Campania, Italy
Nationality Italian
Listed height 194 cm (6 ft 4 in)
Listed weight 90 kg (198 lb)
Career information
NBA draft 1991 / Undrafted
Playing career 1984–2014
Position Shooting guard
Coaching career 2009–present
Career history
As player:
1984–1993 Juvecaserta Basket
1993–1995 Fortitudo Bologna
1995–1996 Toronto Raptors
1996–1997 Scavolini Pesaro
1997–1998 Mabo Pistoia
1998–2001 Andrea Costa Imola
2001–2002 Snaidero Udine
2002 Telecom Gran Canaria
2002–2003 Andrea Costa Imola
2003–2004 Scafati Basket
2004 Lottomatica Roma
2004–2005 Andrea Costa Imola
2005 Polaris World Murcia
2005–2006 Casale Monferrato
2006 Capo d'Orlando
2006–2007 Gragnano
2007–2009 Gira Ozzano
2013–2014 Imola
As coach:
2009–2010 Aquila Basket Trento
2010–2011 Fortitudo Agrigento
2013–2014 Imola
2014–2015 Juvecaserta
2015–present Pistoia Basket 2000
Career highlights and awards

Vincenzo Esposito (born March 1, 1969) is an Italian professional basketball coach for Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia of the Serie A. He was formally a player, playing as a shooting guard.

Esposito is most notable internationally for being the first player signed by the Toronto Raptors of the NBA, also making him the first Italian signed by an NBA team.

The majority of his career took place in Italy, where he was named Serie A MVP in 1999 and 2000, having earlier won the league with Juvecaserta in 1991.

Professional career[edit]

Early career[edit]

The Caserta native started his career with hometown club Juvecaserta Basket during the 1984-85 Serie A season, at only 15.

With the Campanian club he would win the 1988 Italian Basketball Cup and the 1990-91 Serie A championship, the club's first (and as of 2015 only) national championship, during that time the team also played in the 1991–92 FIBA European League and the 1992–93 FIBA Korać Cup.[1]

Esposito would move on to Fortitudo Bologna in 1993, playing there for two years.

Toronto Raptors[edit]

Esposito had been noticed by NBA teams, the Cleveland Cavaliers through scout Rudy D'Amico and the Toronto Raptors through Bob Zuffelato. Though he had agreed terms with the Cavaliers, complications related to the NBA lockout meant he could only sign with the Raptors.

When he signed a multi-year deal on 25 May 1995, he was the first player ever signed by the Canadian expansion team (predating the expansion draft and 1995 NBA draft by a month).[2]

Though Esposito wasn't the first Italian to play in an NBA game – preceded by Stefano Rusconi by three days – he was the first to score, on a free throw in a 15 November game against the Houston Rockets.[3]

He didn't played much during the Raptor's 21-61 season, with 30 games played, for an average of 3.9 points and 0.8 assists, in 9.4 minutes.[4] His best performance was 18 points, 2 assists, 2 offensive rebounds, and 2 turnovers, in 30 minutes, during a 6 April 1996 loss to the New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden.[5]

Return to Europe[edit]

Despite having two years left on his contract, and amidst talks of a trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, Esposito returned to Italy to sign with Scavolini Pesaro in the summer of 1996.[3] Penning a contract reportedly worth at least 1 billion lire net annually (more than 500,000 in euros today), Esposito was acclaimed as a star on his return. However, Pesaro struggled in the league, barely escaping relegation in the 1996-97 season, and Esposito felt he was being singled out for the team's shortcomings. The club and the player agreed to a buyout in November 1997, with the player moving to Mabo Pistoia.[6][7]

He joined Andrea Costa Imola after the 1997-98 season, and there he would regain his top form, by top-scoring in the league for three consecutive years, whilst being twice designated as league MVP, in 1999 and 2000, and also All Star Game MVP in 1998.

He moved to Snaidero Udine in 2001, but he only stayed until January 2002, before having another foray abroad, in the Spanish Liga ACB with Telecom Gran Canaria, where he finished the season. He impressed in Spain by scoring more than 20 points on average, including 45 in an April game against Valladolid that assuaged relegation fears.[8]

Later years[edit]

He returned to Imola, now of the second division Legadue, in 2002, staying there one year, before moving to fellow Legadue team Scafati Basket in 2003. Esposito stayed there until February 2004, when the nearly 35-year-old returned to the Serie A with Lottomatica Roma, to provide more depth to an injury-struck squad.[9] He played less than usual, and finished with 3.5 points on average in the league, also scoring 14 in his first (and last) career Euroleague game, against Pau-Orthez.[10]

He returned to Imola, still in Legadue, for the 2004-05 season, with a brief stay in the Spanish second division LEB playoffs with Polaris World Murcia.

Another return to Legadue followed in 2005, with Casale Monferrato, where he stayed until February 2006, as he signed with Capo d'Orlando for his last Serie A season. After being released in October 2006, he joined the third division Serie B1 club Gragnano (Italian) later that season. He signed with another Serie B1 side, Gira Ozzano (Italian), staying there for two years, before ending his playing career in 2009, at 40 years old.[11]

Esposito finished his 25-year playing career with 762 games played, across all teams and divisions, with 13,286 points scored, for an average of 17.43 points per game.[12]

Coaching career[edit]

After his retirement, Esposito started a coaching career with Aquila Basket Trento of the Serie A Dilettanti (the renamed third division) for the 2009-10 season, with the team finishing ninth. The next year, he coached Fortitudo Agrigento(Italian) of the same division, leaving after a year that saw the side relegated.[11][13]

In July 2013, he returned to Imola, to coach the side that was still in the second division (now DNA Gold),[11] after his side only won 1 game in 13, he decided - at 44 - to return to the side as player, leaving coaching duties to his assistant.[14]

He rejoined another former club, Juvecaserta, in 2014, to serve as assistant coach to Lele Molin first and then Zare Markovski in the Serie A. When Markovski was dismissed in December, with Caserta at zero points in 11 games, Esposito took over as head coach.[15] He helped them to 8 wins in the next 19 games, which gave them hope of escaping relegation, however the side lost their final game and were unable to achieve safety.[13]

Esposito would stay in the Serie A, signing a two-year deal with Giorgio Tesi Group Pistoia in June 2015.[13]

International career[edit]

Esposito played for the youth national teams of Italy, playing in the 1985 FIBA Europe Under-16 Championship, where he won a bronze medal, and the 1988 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, where he top scored for Italy, as they lost in the final.[16]

He later joined the senior men's Italian national basketball team for EuroBasket 1995, where Italy made it to the quarterfinals and he was the team best scorer. Though he played in the qualifiers for EuroBasket 1997, he would not make the squad for the main tournament. Esposito never played again for his country.

NBA statistics[edit]


1995–96 Toronto 30 0 9.4 .360 .232 .795 .5 .8 .2 .0 3.9
Career 30 0 9.4 .360 .232 .795 .5 .8 .2 .0 3.9

Honors and awards[edit]






  1. ^ "Vincenzo Esposito – player history."]FIBA Europe. Retrieved on 6 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Laying the groundwork for the NBA in Toronto."Toronto Raptors. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b Talamazzi, Michele. "Esposito the first Italian in the NBA. Between shots, letdowns and that night at the Madison."La Gazzetta dello Sport, Milan, 7 March 2015. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  4. ^ a b "Vincenzo Esposito". NBA. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  5. ^ "Apr 6. 1996: New York Knicks - Toronto Raptors (Boxscore)."NBA. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.
  6. ^ Talamazzi, Michele. "Esposito at Pistoia."RAI, Pesaro, 19 November 1997. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  7. ^ Vanetti, Flavio. "Divorce under the basket: Pesaro releases Esposito."Corriere della Sera, 20 November 1997. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  8. ^ Malo de Molina, Pablo. "Highlights."Liga ACB, 5 April 2002. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Spanish)
  9. ^ "Italy: struggling Roma turn to the devil.", FIBA Europe, 19 February 2004. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.
  10. ^ "2003-04 Regular Season round 14: Lottomatica Roma - Pau-Orthez (Report).", Euroleague, 19 February 2004. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.
  11. ^ a b c Aquino, Luca. "”Vincenzino returns. He's the coach of Imola."Corriere di Bologna, Bologna, 26 July 2013. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  12. ^ "Technical staff 14/15."Juvecaserta Basket. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  13. ^ a b c "Vincenzo Esposito è il nuovo allenatore del Pistoia Basket 2000" [Vincenzo Espositio is the new coach of Pistoia Basket 2000]. Pistoia Basket 2000 (in Italian). 22 June 2015. Retrieved 29 June 2015. 
  14. ^ Forni, Francesco. "Vicenzino Esposito returns to the court at 44: now "El Diablo" wants to save his Imola."la Repubblica, Bologna, 23 December 2013. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  15. ^ Giannoni, Carlo. "Enzo Esposito replaces Zare Markovski."Juvecaserta Basket, 22 December 2014. Retrieved on 2 June 2015.(Italian)
  16. ^ "1988 European Championship for Juniors - Vincenzo Esposito.", FIBA. Retrieved on 6 June 2015.

External links[edit]