Mario Elie Rumors
The Chicago Tribune reported in March 2000 that Spurs guard Avery Johnson was angering teammates with selfish complaining after being benched in several fourth quarters for Terry Porter, who was a better 3-point shooter. During a 92-81 Spurs loss at Cleveland on Feb. 15, 2000, Johnson and teammate Malik Rose argued over a defensive play when Cavaliers guard Andre Miller got a 3-point play. After the game, a nude Johnson tried to slap Rose in front of his locker while on his way to the shower, a source told The Undefeated. Rose lunged forward to hit Johnson and slipped and fell after stepping into teammate Mario Elie’s bucket of ice. Rose was held back by teammates Felton Spencer and Jerome Kersey. Still nude, Johnson started pacing around the locker room, throwing stuff around and breaking a television while having words for Popovich, Robinson, Rose and Porter about the team no longer being his. The Spurs didn’t re-sign Johnson, although the franchise did retire his No. 6 jersey after he retired, and he instead signed with the Denver Nuggets.
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. ”