Mario Elie Rumors
Elie knows all about out-of-the-way. He played in Ireland, Argentina and Portugal, not to mention the minor league backwoods of the USBL (Miami Tropics) and CBA (Albany Patroons) before he ever got a sniff at the NBA. So to be back on the sidelines barking out orders as summer league coach and member of Scott Skiles’ new staff with the Magic feels better than silk sheets. “You can’t possibly know how much I missed it,” said the 11-year veteran swingman who earned three championship rings during his playing career. “I’ve been doing this all my life. I can’t be a lawyer or a doctor. Basketball is in my blood. I love everything about the game. I played overseas. I played in all the farm leagues. And I made it to the NBA. I appreciate it. That’s why when I took the floor in the NBA I didn’t take it for granted. I played hard every night.”
“It’s been hard,” Elie said. “I drive my wife crazy. Instead of watching the kids and helping them with homework, I’m watching basketball all day. Dissecting the game, watching my buddies play on TV, wishing I was out there. “But family comes first. I was on the road my first nine years coaching and not being around my kids. It’s been fantastic taking my kids to school, being psycho-sports Dad yelling at the coach on the sidelines. ‘Get my son the ball!’ My daughter at her volleyball games. It’s been fantastic. It was just fun being a dad.
“The trouble is, once you get out of the game, it’s tough to get back in. You’ve got a lot of new guys coming in. You’ve got a lot of different GMs with the analytical stuff. You really don’t have basketball people. You’ve got people who do numbers and stats and stuff like that. ”
Athletic trainers see the impact of back to backs traveling from West to East. But others believe the longer four-in-five stretch is more debilitating. “Four in five nights,” one current general manager said. “Back to backs are tough, but not as bad as four in five. Fatigue is a lot greater at the end of the four in five.” The brutal travel every NBA team has, even though every team uses charter service, also weighs on players playing four in five. “You can be in four different cities,” former player Mario Elie said. “Different time zones.”
Who was the toughest player for you to guard during your career? DA: There was a couple. When I played it was tough. I was a tough guard but think about it, you had these shooting guards: Michael Jordan, Reggie Miller, Mitch Richmond, Latrell Sprewell, Allan Houston, Steve Smith, JR Rider… Just naming those guys, you knew you had a tough night every night and if you watched on TV you said ‘Man, this is a great game!’ Now you can’t name me five apart from Kobe [Bryant], [James] Harden and maybe Joe Johnson… It was fun back then. Mario Elie, Allen Iverson was a two-guard back then… There was a bunch of talent. Now? There’s nothing.
If anyone had any doubt that Mario Elie wouldn’t be back on the Nets bench next season, he seemed to erase them Thursday night when he made a televised pitch to Dwight Howard on behalf of the Rockets. “Hopefully, Dwight Howard, you’ve got to come down to Texas, man,” Elie said. “No state taxes, ain’t no pressure down here. You don’t have to worry about LA, Hollywood, or Brooklyn. Texas is great. The fans are terrific down here. We support. We’re not like the Miami fans leaving when the game’s not even over. We stay until the end here in Houston. Come on down to Texas, Dwight.”