Reader AM recently noted his disappointment with BiE lately due to this website’s non-reportage on the recent premature retirement of 30-year-old Arvydas Macijauskas on Wednesday. At the time BiE heard the news, the story had already been well reported on dozens of other websites and so passed on writing something up.
However, AM is right in that Macijauskas does deserve tribute here at BallinEurope for thrilling pro basketball fans throughout The Continent and FIBA followers around the world in his too-short career. And so, we’ll pay tribute to another great Lithuanian baller the best way BiE knows how: Through YouTube clips.
Roll the highlights!
Macijauskas first start attracting serious attention on the club level with his rapid takeover of the Lithuanian Basketball League (LKL) in the early 2000s, bagging two MVPs for himself and two championships for Lietuvos Rytas in three seasons.
Before jumping into Euroleague play with Tau Cerámica, Macijauskas introduced himself more thoroughly to The Continent’s national teams in the 2003 Eurobasket tournament, a tourney which culminated in Macijauskas, Šarūnas Jasikevičius, and Saulius Štombergas leading Lithuania to gold over Team Spain. (Apologies in advance for the cacophony in this one.)
Incidentally, over at that wacky Euroleague Adventures site, a recent poll on Arvydas Macijauskas seems to be suffering from Lithuanian input. Among the options to the question “How will you remember Arvydas Macijauskas?” the response “Led Lithuania to a Eurobasket championship in 2003” (BiE’s selection) runs a lowly second behind “Could have been one of the greatest of all-time without injuries.” Really?
As they say in the ‘States, your vote counts!
Meanwhile, here’s some video from the awesome Tau Cerámica years, which included all All-Euroleague team nod for Macijauskas and a championship appearance in 2004-05.
No YouTube really exists highlighting Macijauskas’ woebegone season with the New Orleans Hornets, but since one thousand words are worth a picture, here’s about that many from the man about his experience in bench-warming there:
“I want to forget that year. Everything went wrong. A really bad coach, a bad franchise. At the end of the season, I didn’t even think of returning to New Orleans next season. From the third game on, I was already sentenced to zero minutes for the rest of the year. The NBA isn’t fun. Teams are [not] teams. There’s no true commitment between the teammates.”
Which makes this clip all the more fascinating: What goes down in this exchange between Macijauskas and his former teammate Chris Paul before the 2006 FIBA World Championship?
And some unfortunately America-centric highlights from that Lithuania-USA pre-tournament friendly:
But the stalling of Macijauskas’ greatness due to the Hornets debacle would soon become a full-on spanner in the works. The clip below shows the devastating Achilles tendon injury he suffered in September 2006 while with Olympiacos – amazing that such an incident, off-ball and completely unexpected, can change a player’s fate in the blink of an eye.
By 2007, fans saw hope, proclaiming “The Killer is Back” as Macijauskas started heating up to pre-New Orleans levels again…
…until the Red bagged the Euroleague Player of the Month trophy in November 2007.
In 2008, Macijauskas was injured in August while training with Team Lithuania in preparation for the Beijing Olympic Games, an event that resulted in lawsuits. Olympiacos charged Macijauskas with breach of contract, a case the team lost, appealed, and won.
With his Wednesday announcement that due to a severe spinal hernia injury plus lingering effects from the 2006 injury, Macijauskas’ great career ultimately ended in a court rather than on the court. A shame, indeed, but we’ll always have the clips. And the memories.
Best of luck to one of Lithuania’s finest ever in his future endeavors!