Shooting star Macijauskas ends comeback try

Jun 09, 2010 by Print
All-Euroleague Team 2004-05, Arvydas MacijauskasOne of the most prolific scorers in the Euroleague this decade, shooting ace Arvydas Macijauskas, has retired as an active player after struggling with injuries for several years. Macijauskas, 30, was an All-Euroleague First Team selection in 2004-05, the second of his four seasons in the competition. He ended the decade having recorded the third-best points-per-minute scoring rate among all Euroleague players - a point for roughly every 100 seconds he spent on the floor - and the third-best free-throw shooting accuracy, 90.3%. He scored the most points at the 2005 Final Four, where his team, Tau Ceramica, finished runner-up after one of the biggest upsets of the decade, beating host CSKA Moscow in the semifinal, in which Macijauskas led all scorers with 23 points. He had taken the competition by storm the previous season, his first with Tau, posting 40 points - still the second-highest total in a Euroleague game, shared with three other players - in just his seventh game. His first two seasons rank ninth and fifth, respectively, for the highest single-season point totals of the decade, which he finished with Olympiacos, playing two seasons cut short by injury.

"My professional basketball career has come to an end," Macijauskas said in a statement Tuesday, "but I would like to stay linked to the sport, maybe to become a coach. I will not be in it for the money, but for the emotions, to keep on experiencing the joy of winning or the pain of losing. Those feelings are like a drug, and once you experience them, you want more and more."

Arvydas Macijauskas - OlympiacosMacijauskas started his career in Neptunas, in his native Lithuania, and moved to the country's capital to join Lietuvos Rytas in 1999. Macijauskas helped L. Rytas to go from being virtually unknown to become a European powerhouse by winning two Lithuanian League titles, in 2000 and 2002, and lifting the NEBL trophy in 2002. Macijauskas also helped L. Rytas to get its first prestigious wins in European club competitions against teams like Aris, Buducnost, Kinder Bologna, Panathinaikos, Efes Pilsen, Ulker, Montepaschi and CSKA Moscow. He led L. Rytas to reach the 2000 Saporta Cup semifinals, losing against Kinder Bologna on points differential, the 2001 FIBA SuproLeague eighthfinals and the 2002 Saporta Cup quarterfinals. Macijauskas exploded at EuroBasket 2003, leading Lithuania to the gold medal and scoring a team-high 21 points in the title game against Spain. Macijauskas moved to Tau Ceramica that summer and had a sudden impact in the Euroleague, finishing as the competition's top scorer in the 2003-04 season, with 19.5 points per game. In 2004-05, Macijauskas earned All-Euroleague team honors and led Tau to reach the 2005 Euroleague final, downing a memorable game-clinching triple to in the semifinal against host CSKA Moscow. Macijauskas moved to the NBA, seeing limited playing time with the New Orleans Hornets, and signed a three-year deal with Olympiacos in summer 2006, but only managed to play 14 Euroleague games during that period.

He has been one of the best European shooters in recent years but his outstanding career came to an end due to severe injuries. "I have a spinal hernia, which requires surgery if I want to keep playing professional basketball," Macijuaskas said in Tuesday's statement. "In addition, my left calf muscle has been obsolete since I completed the Achilles tendon injury in September 2006. It is two-and-a-half inches lower than the right calf muscle. I seriously considered to keep playing, but it was a difficult decision to make, because I doubt that after undergoing surgery and rehabilitation, I would be able to be back to the court a year later. Surgery is not needed if I don't play professional basketball; the hernia does not prevent me from living a normal life."