A Few Facts Proving Šarūnas Jasikevičius is the Coolest Cat in the Euroleague
The head coach of BC Žalgiris Kaunas, 41, might be one of the youngest out there, but he’s definitely one of the most ambitious and charismatic.
Šarūnas Jasikevičius, 41, might be one of the youngest head coaches out there, but he’s definitely one of the most ambitious and charismatic. The former basketball player (and one of the best point guards in the history of Lithuanian basketball) spent most of his pro career abroad, but his love for Lithuania and Kaunas was so strong he eventually came back here and started working with BC Žalgiris Kaunas, his favourite team since he was a little kid.
The man, the legend. Photo by Kirilas Čachovskis/Delfi.lt
Žalgiris (founded in 1944) is one of the oldest teams in the Euroleague. The team won the Euroleague in 1999 and have become Lithuanian champions dozens of times. As Žalgiris is currently playing its best Euroleague season in a while, we’ve decided to collect a handful of facts proving Jasikevičius is the coolest cat in the game, even if he’s not playing it himself anymore.
Leading the Lithuanian champions. Photo by Rafaelis Achmedovas/Delfi.lt
The destiny of Šarūnas was pretty much written in the stars. His mother Rita is a famous handball player – she even won silver with the Soviet Union team in the world championship of 1976 and it was obvious she’d be part of the team in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Everything was going according to the plan, but Rita became pregnant and chose family above everything. Rita never made it to the Olympics as the Soviet sports officials shut all the doors, but her son Šarūnas once quoted his mother saying “My son will give me back the Olympics“. And he did! Jasikevičius retired from the Lithuanian national team following London 2012, after participating in the Olympics four times in a row.
Like mother, like son! Dad's always in the picture, too. Photo by Kirilas Čachovskis/Delfi.lt
The childhood dream of the energetic kid growing up in the tough residential area of Partizanų street in Kaunas was to become a Žalgiris player. He loved the team so much he even knew the shoe sizes of the players! The dream had to wait, though, as, in 1998, after coming back from his studies in University of Maryland (USA), Jasikevičius made his pro debut with BC Lietuvos Rytas, the biggest local rival of Žalgiris.
He didn’t stay in Vilnius for too long – in 1999, Union Olimpija Ljubljana invited the Lithuanian to Slovenia, and that’s when his fantastic years of Euroleague and NBA started. Šarūnas played in FC Barcelona, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Panathinaikos Athens, Fenerbahçe Istanbul, Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors. The Lithuanian refused a handful of offers to play for Russian clubs.
Jasikevičius is the only player in the history of Euroleague tournament to win the competition with three different clubs, four times in total. In 2015, Jasikevičius was named a Euroleague Basketball Legend, as a reward for his stunning playing career.
While in Indiana Pacers, Šaras was honoured with personalized basketball shoes from Adidas. Still available online!
He finally signed with Žalgiris in 2013 and joined the coaching staff after the season. He officially became the head coach in January 2016, that is, exactly two years ago.
His autobiography (written together with an Italian journalist Pietro Scibetta) called “To win is not enough. My life, my basketball“ is available in a few languages including English (get the ebook here). An inspiring read and a very personal way of telling a story! Highly recommended. Especially for those who think they don't really like basketball.
Šarūnas Jasikevičius is known for his enthusiasm and nervousness in the field during the matches, and even technical fouls appointed by judges do not stop him from feeling the game and being 200% part of it. Of course, it adds a lot of value for those watching the game either live or on TV.
Photo by Domantas Pipas/Delfi.lt
Photo by Domantas Pipas/Delfi.lt
Photo by Modestas Patašius
Just before we finish... There's one more thing proving Šarūnas is, like, one of the best and most true people in the history of basketball, ever. In May 2017, Jasikevičius famously replied to a journalist who questioned his decision to give some days off during the semi-finals for a team player Augusto Lima whose girlfriend had just given birth. Make sure the subtitles are on.