Euroleague Legend – Šarūnas Jasikevičius
Winning one Euroleague title is not an easy thing to do, and getting more than one title is even harder. Šarūnas ‘Saras’ Jasikevičius didn’t only manage to win four different Euroleague titles, but he managed to do that with three different teams: FC Barcelona, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Panathinaikos. Furthermore, he won three of those titles in consecutive years, with two different clubs. In 2003, the year of his first Euroleague title, he was even named Mr. Europa, after he won his first Euroleague title with Barcelona. A year after he retired from professional basketball, he was named a Euroleague Legend. He is currently one of six players that has received that honor.
Before joining FC Barcelona, Jasikevičius played for Union Olimpija Lubjana in Slovenia, and there, it already showed that he would turn out to be a great player. His team won the Slovenian League, and though Jasikevičius himself only averaged 9.3 points, he became the Slovenian Cup MVP, a Slovenian League All-Star and the Slovenian League MVP. His great performance lead to him signing a contract with FC Barcelona. There, he got his first chance to play in the Euroleague, and he managed to continue his upwards journey to become one of the greatest European players in the Euroleague. Then, his path led him to Maccabi Tel Aviv, where he won 2 Euroleague titles in a row. Jasikevičius definitely stood out during his time, grabbing a lot of prizes on the way. For example, he was named into the All-Euroleague team twice, voted Israeli Super League MVP in 2005 and he was also named the Euroleague Final Four MVP in 2005.
His strong, dominant performance led him to be offered a contract by the Indiana Pacers in 2005, and Jasikevičius did make the step to go and play in the NBA. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be a success. He was a dominant player in Europe, but overseas he spent most of his time on the bench. After two years in the NBA, and a short stint with the Golden State Warriors, he returned to Europe. That turned out to be a great decision, as he won his fourth Euroleague title in 7 years, this time with Panathinaikos.
Years later, nearing the end of his career, he returned to his home country, signing a contract with Žalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania. He didn’t really manage to make a real impact anymore, though he averaged a 100% FT percentage in his season there. After one season, he announced his retirement in 2014, and became the assistant-coach of Žalgiris Kaunas, the team where he ended his career. After 2,5 years, the head coach was fired and Jasikevičius took over that position. Only ten days later, he managed to get his first victory as an Euroleague coach. The following season, Jasikevičius won the LKL Coach of the Year award.