Back in the 80s, you could count how many international players were in the NBA on one hand. Now you need two hands just to count how many are on one team. It’s clear the NBA has changed for good since the infusion of talent from overseas.
While former Golden State Warriors guard Sarunas Marciulionis may not have been the first European-born player to come stateside and play in the NBA, he was key in paving the way for other European players.
Apparently so much so that San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker’s father told Marciulionis he should be receiving a little kickback from new contracts signed, according to Eurohoops.net via their Twitter account.
Sarunas Marciulionis on Israel Hayom: “Tony Parker's dad once told me that I need to take 5% from every European's contract in the NBA”.— Eurohoops.net (@Eurohoopsnet) July 21, 2013
The Spurs have definitely benefited from the infusion of international players and started drafting European players very early on and became trendsetters in the league for scouting and plucking overseas talent in the draft and free agency.
Currently, the Spurs roster is peppered with international players. Of the 14-man roster, nine are international players, including Cory Joseph, who was born in Canada.
While I doubt today’s international players would want to give up even that five percent, it’s clear Marciulionis along with several other early players paved the way along with former Warriors coach Don Nelson and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
And in case you forgot or never seen Sarunas in action, he was quite the player and one of the originators of the "Euro-step."