Sarunas Marciulionis was a groundbreaker.
It was partially that he was one of the first players coming out of the Soviet Union as it splintered, proving he could play in the NBA. More than that, he was one guy who came over at that time and stuck, proving he could play the NBA style.
He also was breaking ground because he would not fit a stereotype — this European guard was as physical and tough as anyone raised stateside. He could shoot the jumper but when he put the rock on the floor and drove the lane he was hunting for contact. Then he would finish through it.
Marciulionis was inshrined in the Hall of Fame Friday night on his international credentials — an Olympic gold medal with the USSR in 1988 then, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, he led the Lithuanian team to two bronze medals.
But he was an NBA trail blazer as well and here were we talk about The Association he should be remembered for that.