HoopsHype.com Interviews

Sarunas Jasikevicius: "I've never been close to signing with an NBA team"
by Jorge Sierra / September 30, 2004

How do you feel about Lithuania's results in the Olympic Games?

Sarunas Jasikevicius: It's a little bit bittersweet. We played well several games and got real options of making something big. But the last two games, we didn't play well.

What went wrong for Lithuania in those two games?

SJ: We just didn't play at our level. We didn't play well.

Were you pleased with your individual performance in Athens?

SJ: Yes. I had some games better than others, but overall I was pleased with my performance.

What meaning did that win over the U.S. have for you? Was it just one more victory or something more like a way to vindicate yourself in front of the NBA people?

SJ: No way. It was not just one more victory. It was a victory against the best players in the world. It was a great joy for all of us to beat them. But in the end, as we found out later, it was worth nothing. It was just a game in the first round. It's the other games that really count.

Were you impressed by any of the players on the U.S. team?

SJ: They were all pretty good. I can't say if there was one better than the other. They just didn't play the way they are able to play.

You dominated Stephon Marbury in Athens. Do you see yourself at the same level of Marbury and other NBA stars?

SJ: No, I don't see myself at the same level. They may have not played great, but they still got a medal. It doesn't matter what happened, you still have to recognize they are the best.

You are under contract with Maccabi, but has any NBA team contacted you after the Olympic Games?

SJ: No. There has been no contact.

Gregg Popovich said the Spurs tried to sign you before the Games. Was there anything serious?

SJ: Not that I know. There has been nothing.

What was the closest you got to signing a contract with an NBA team?

SJ: Never. I don't think I've ever been close to signing with an NBA team.

You've complained that you didn't get any good offer from the NBA yet. What would you consider to be a reasonable offer?

SJ: Just an offer that I like.

What would be the key playing time, money, the length of the contract...?

SJ: A little bit of everything. You have to pay attention to all those things. But playing time? How are they going to guarantee any playing time to me? You have to go there, show what you can do and earn the playing time.

What do you think when you see NBA teams signing unproven European players instead of players that have done great things in FIBA basketball like you?

SJ: I don't care. I don't have an opinion. Teams have their preferences and choose the players they want. There's nothing more.

Do you think that playing college basketball may have hurt your chances of playing in the NBA? Seems like the NBA people like the unknown too much.

SJ: Well... I don't know. That might be true, but I don't think I can answer that question.

What are your plans once your contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv is over?

SJ: Whoa! I still have one year left in my contract with Maccabi. How am I going to think about that now? I still have a year ahead of me to think about that. I haven't thought about it yet.

How is life for you in Israel? Are you as happy there as you were in Barcelona?

SJ: Yes. I'm happy here. Really happy.

What are your motivations this season after winning all club tournaments in the last two years with Barcelona and Maccabi?

SJ: Just trying to repeat it.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com

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