2015 Class of FIBA Hall of Fame: Sarunas Marciulionis
MIES (2015 FIBA Hall of Fame) - On Friday 17 July, FIBA announced the 2015 Class of Inductees of the FIBA Hall of Fame. In the lead-up to the Induction Ceremony taking place on 19 September in Lille, France, we profile the inductees.
Sarunas Marciulionis could score points.
The Lithuanian did so at every stop in his career, and also for his national teams.
When he played for the Soviet Union in 1988 at the Seoul Olympics and helped the country capture gold, Marciulionis's explosive offense was vital.
He averaged 18.1 points per game.
In the team's pivotal 82-76 Semi-Final triumph over the United States, the Kaunas native scored on fast breaks and from behind the arc.
He hit all three of his shots from long range that day and finished with 19 points.
Then in the Gold Medal Game against Yugoslavia, Marciulionis torched his opponents with three more shots from three-point land in a 76-63 Soviet win.
When he arrived in the United States to launch his NBA career in 1989, though, the Lithuanian could hard believe how much attention was placed on a player's scoring an overall statistics because box scores never reveal one's entire worth to a team.
"I never paid attention to stats sheets until I came to the NBA," he said.
"When you lost, you lost.
"You didn't care about stats."
Marciulionis would go on to score a lot of points for the Golden State Warriors and grew accustomed to the way fans and journalists alike examined statistics to aid in their assessment of a player's worth.
The fiery, determined and muscular Marciulionis had many attributes.
The 1.95m playmaker, who had already shone for Vilnius club Statyba in the old USSR league from 1981-1989, was so good that he changed perceptions in America about the toughness of players on the old continent.
NBA fans will have a lot of memories of him as a member of that league through the 1996-97 campaign, when he retired from the game after a season with the Denver Nuggets.
But Marciulionis was far more than just an NBA player.
He was, and remains, an iconic figure of international basketball because of what he did for Lithuania's national team.
After Lithuania became an independent nation again in 1990, he made sure the country had an excellent team.
Not only did Marciulionis contact top players and encourage them to play, he used his fame and salesmanship to gain much-needed sponsors for the team.
In 1992, Marciulionis played a leading role for Lithuania as they reached the Olympic podium in Barcelona, averaging 23.4 points per game.
In the 82-78 Bronze Medal Game triumph over the Commonwealth of Independent States, he led all scorers with 29 points and also corralled 8 rebounds.
That same year, he founded his Sarunas Marciulionis Basketball School in Vilnius.
The following year, Marciulionis founded the Lithuanian Basketball League and then in 1999, he created the North European Basketball League.
Marciulionis was named as the tournament's most valuable player.
The letters MVP could precede his name in all walks of life because that is what Marciulionis has been, especially for Lithuania.