Record-setting winner Sarunas Jasikevicius retires

Aug 08, 2014 by Print
Sarunas Jasikevicius - Panathinaikos Champ 2008-09 - Final Four Berlin 2009

One of the great winners in the history of pro basketball, Sarunas Jasikevicius, has decided to put his glorious playing career behind him. The legendary point guard -- known by fans all over Europe as Saras - announced his retirement on Tuesday to take an assistant coaching position with his hometown club, Zalgiris Kaunas, where he played last season. Jasikevicius, 38, leaves as the only player in history to become champion of Europe with three different clubs. His first Euroleague title came with FC Barcelona in 2003, ending the club's long wait to conquer the continent. The next season, he won the trophy with Maccabi Tel Aviv, becoming the first-ever back-to-back champion with two-different clubs. When Maccabi won again in 2005 as the Euroleague's sole back-to-back champ between 1992 and 2012, Jasikevicius became the only player ever to win three years in a row with two different teams. His fourth Euroleague title in seven years, with Panathinaikos Athens in 2009, made Saras the quickest player to collect so many trophies during the Final Four era that began in 1988.

Altogether, Jasikevicius won four Euroleague crowns, nine domestic championships and 10 national cup titles in five different countries. His unmatched resume also includes a pair of All-Euroleague First Team selections and the 2005 Euroleague Final Four MVP trophy. As deadly whether he was shooting or passing the ball, Jasikevicius has carved out his place among the Euroleague's career leaders in many statistical categories. He is the Euroleague’s all-time leader in free throw accuracy at 92.3%. He is ranked fourth in assists (755), tied for fifth in games played (226), seventh in three-pointers made (315) and eighth in scoring (2,343 points). His success extends beyond the club level. Saras served for more than a decade as the leader of the Lithuanian national team and boasts an impressive haul of trophies from those summers, too. Saras was MVP of the 2003 EuroBasket after leading Lithuania to the gold medal. He also owns a bronze medal from the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and from EuroBasket 2007. Jasikevicius represented Lithuania in four Olympics, one world championships and six EuroBaskets.

Saras completed his career by helping Zalgiris to the Lithuanian League crown last season. Jasikevicius grew up in Kaunas, but left for high school in the United States. After playing college basketball at the University of Maryland, he began his professional career in 1998 with Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius in Lithuania and spent one season with Union Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia before joining Barcelona for three. Jasikevicius spent the next two seasons with Maccabi, then went to the NBA for two years with Indiana and Golden State, and returned to Europe in 2007 with Panathinaikos Athens, where Saras he also played three seasons. Since 2010, he played half a season for Rytas, half for Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul and a season each for Panathinaikos, Barcelona and Zalgiris. He retires as one of just seven players since 1958 to have won four or more Euroleague titles. He appeared in a total of six Euroleague Final Fours. In 2008, Jasikevicius was honored by Euroleague Basketball as one of the 50 greatest contributors to the first half-century of European club competitions, and two years later he was named to the Euroleague All-Decade Team.