Šarūnas Marčiulionis

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Šarūnas Marčiulionis
Sarunas Marciulionis in Armenia 2.jpg
Marčiulionis during his masterclass visit in Armenia (June 2014)
Personal information
Born (1964-06-13) June 13, 1964 (age 56)
Kaunas, Lithuanian SSR, Soviet Union
Listed height6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Listed weight200 lb (91 kg)
Career information
NBA draft 1987 / Round: 6 / Pick: 127th overall
Selected by the Golden State Warriors
Playing career1981–1997
Position Shooting guard
Number13, 30, 8
Career history
1981–1989 Statyba
19891994 Golden State Warriors
1994–1995 Seattle SuperSonics
1995–1996 Sacramento Kings
1996–1997 Denver Nuggets
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 ʃɐˈrûːnɐs mɐrʲtɕʊˈlʲôːnʲɪs] ( Loudspeaker.svg listen )) (born June 13, 1964) is a Lithuanian retired professional basketball player. Widely considered as one of the greatest international players, he was one of the first Europeans to become a regular in the National Basketball Association (NBA). On August 8, 2014, Marčiulionis was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, and became a member of the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2015.


In the 1988 Summer Olympics, together with teammate Arvydas Sabonis, Marčiulionis led the senior USSR national team to the gold medal. With the senior Lithuanian national team, he won two Summer Olympics bronze medals, in 1992 and 1996. He was an All-Tournament Team member, the top scorer, and the MVP of the EuroBasket 1995, and he was also elected to the All-EuroBasket Team in 1987.

Marčiulionis is credited with bringing the Euro step move to the NBA. [1] [2] [3]

Early life

Marčiulionis was the second son of Laimutė, a geography teacher, and Juozas, an engineer. Given that Laimutė aggravated her spinal injury, while 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 while growing up, being an ambidextrous player, focused on forehands. Given his unorthodox technique, and an increasingly bulky frame, he eventually gave up on the sport.

At the age of 13, following a hospitalization, caused by makeshift explosives, Marčiulionis changed to the sport of basketball. In the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic, 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.” [4] [5]

Professional career


While Marčiulionis attended college, he rarely played basketball, but he eventually attracted a scout from Statyba, of the USSR Premier League, in 1981. He would play with Statyba, in the USSR League, from 1981 to 1989.


During a 1985 game against Athletes in Action, in Vilnius, Marčiulionis struck a friendship with one of the opponent players, Donnie Nelson, despite the language barrier. Nelson's father, Don Nelson would later be the head 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 age 23, one year older than the age the draft rules limited for European players. The Hawks then pursued 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 medal 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. [6]

Eventually, Nelson's influence helped Marčiulionis with his social projects in Vilnius, and led him to remain with the Warriors, with whom he signed a three-year $3.8 million contract, in 1989. [5] [6] [7] 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 1992. 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. [8] [9] [10]

National team career

Soviet national team

In 1982 and 1983, Marčiulionis played sparingly with the Soviet juniors. He won a gold medal at the 1982 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championship, and a silver medal at the 1983 FIBA Under-19 World Cup, in Spain. Marčiulionis was frequently the last man cut from the senior Soviet Union national basketball team training camps, until he finally got his chance with the senior team in 1987, having a breakout performance, while winning a silver medal at the EuroBasket 1987. Marčiulionis would also be one of the standout players, as the Soviets won the gold medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics. [5] [11]

Lithuanian national team

Following the restoration of Lithuanian independence, in 1990, Marčiulionis almost single-handed resurrected the senior 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. [12] Sponsor deals struck by him included Bank of America and the 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 . The Grateful Dead also helped launch a line of tie-dyed jerseys, that would feature Lithuania's national colors, [4] along with a slam dunking skeleton, created by New York artist Greg Speirs. [13] [14] 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. [15] [16] [17] 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 Summer Olympics. In 1995, he was named the MVP of the 1995 FIBA EuroBasket, after leading Lithuania to a silver medal in the tournament. In 1987, 1989, 1990, and 1991, he was voted the best sportsman in Lithuania.

Marčiulionis' basketball career and journey to represent his native country Lithuania in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics is highlighted in the documentary film "The Other Dream Team". The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2012 and was distributed by Lionsgate in the U.S. and Disney internationally. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Other_Dream_Team

Personal life

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. [5] 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 he helped by pulling out trapped passengers and administering first aid.

After he joined the Warriors, Marčiulionis's wife Inga enrolled at Merritt College, where she walked on to their women's basketball team and was a star player for two seasons. [18] She became one of 147 women in women's college basketball history to score 50 or more points in a college game while at Merritt College, and joined the faculty of Merritt College after graduating. She served as head coach of Merritt's women's basketball team, and is now the head of their kinesiology department. [19] [20]

Marčiulionis and Inga are divorced and have one daughter. Inga lives in the United States and continues her work at Merritt College. [21]

Marčiulionis married Laura Mikelionytė on March 10, 2012. [22]

Post-playing career

Marciulionis training kids Sarunas Marciulionis in Armenia.jpg
Marčiulionis training kids

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 the Baltic Basketball League. Today, he is one of the most successful businessmen in Lithuania. [23] He was also 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. [24] [25] On September 19, 2015, Marčiulionis was inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame. [26]

On October 2, 2015, it was announced that Šarūnas Hotel was closed. [27] The nearby Šarūnas Marčiulionis Basketball academy meanwhile, was closed after the 2015–16 season. [28]

On May 26, 2019, Marčiulionis was elected to the European Parliament to serve in the Ninth European Parliament. [29] However, on May 28, he announced that he decided to give up his seat in the European Parliament. [30]

NBA career statistics

  GPGames 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

Regular season

1989–90 Golden State 75322.6.519.256.7872.
1990–91 Golden State 501019.7.501.167.7242.
1991–92 Golden State 72529.4.538.300.7882.
1992–93 Golden State 30827.9.543.200.7613.
1994–95 Seattle 66418.1.473.402.7321.
1995–96 Sacramento 53019.6.452.408.7751.
1996–97 Denver 17015.0.376.367.8061.


1990–91 Golden State 9022.9.500.000.8972.
1991–92 Golden State 4033.3.532.500.8292.
1995–96 Sacramento 4025.

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