Day 13: The Godfather of the Euro step

Today is Day 13. Yesod sheb’gevurah. Laying a foundation through power.

Heading into the 1988 Seoul Olympics, US Men’s Basketball Team had lost only once in its history, to the Soviet Union at the 1972 Olympics in an extremely controversial ending. But there was no debate over their second loss, again to the U.S.S.R., this time in the 1988 Olympic Semifinals. The group of talented US amateurs lost to a mature and experienced Soviet National team led by 24 year old Sarunas Marciulionis. He scored 19 points against the US that day and 21 points against Yugoslavia to help the Soviet Union win the gold medal.

Marciulionis was a 1987 6th pick of the Golden State Warriors, but he was stuck behind the Iron Curtain. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Marciulionis made his way to the NBA in 1989 along with another European great, the late, Drazen Petrovic. He was a strong, powerful guard, who could attack the basketball against anyone, embodying the gevurah nature of this week.

In 2014, Marciulionis was inducted into the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the game, including leading Lithuania to two bronze medals at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. On Day 13, yesod sheb’gevurah, I’m choosing Marciulionis because he was a pioneer. Like Joseph, the Biblical figure associated with yesod, he was the first to travel to a new land and his success laid the foundation for generations to come. 

His former coach, Don Nelson said it best:

“I think the entire European market owes a debt of gratitude to Sarunas Marciulionis, because he was the guy that started everything, he was the guy that opened people’s eyes, that there are a lot of really good players over there and we better take a look.” 

Marciulionis broke down barriers and stereotypes. He used his powerful game to pave the way for a new generation of superstars. And like, Joseph, he brought new ideas with him. Marciulionis is credited with being the first to introduce the Euro Step to the NBA. In doing so, he laid the foundation, not only for a generation of European players, but for all these amazing highlights. 

p.s. If you’re looking to fill some time before episode 3 of The Last Dance, check out that 1988 Olympic Semifinal game.

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