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St. Patrick’s Day ‘All Irish’ Irish All Stars

15 Mar

Marty Conlon

I have serious business to discuss: the inaugural Kings of Maroussi “All Irish” Irish All Star team in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Before I do that, I want to get something off my chest. The “Fighting Irish” of Notre Dame is an offensive nickname. We’re not belligerent people. So the next guy who tries to defend the nickname in my presence is getting a punch in the face.

The only “rule” to my Irish All Stars is they must have a connection to Maroussi. Let’s start with the front court. I was prepared to spend long days digging through dusty files at Maroussi team headquarters looking for some evidence of Irishmen. But then my mom said “Look on the Internet, ya eejit.”

Thanks Ma! Turns out two celebrated Irishmen played for Maroussi during the 2001-02 season. None other than Pat Burke and Marty Conlon. Yes, the same Mahhty Conl’n who played for the Boston Celtics (1996-97). The Celts went 15-67 that year. Irregahdless.

Burke averaged 14 points and 9.8 rebounds per game for Maroussi. The following year, he joined the Orlando Magic, becoming the first Irish-born player to play in the NBA (wiping tears from eyes as I write). He later played for the Phoenix Suns (2005-07). The 6-foot-11 center grew up in the United States.

The Bronx-born Conlon averaged 11 ppg and 6 rpg as Burke’s teammate in Maroussi, which made it to the Greek Cup final that season. The 6-foot-10 power forward came to Greece after playing nine seasons (that’s a lot) in the NBA. Both Conlon and Burke have captained the Irish National Team.

Let’s round out the front court with Patrick Fitzgerald O’Bryant Jr. The 7-footer played for the Celtics (2008-09), too. (Coulda’ben mayah with that friggin name!) The Maroussi connection? O’Bryant played in Greece this season for Kavala, which signed would-be Maroussi forward Travis Garrison after FIBA slapped a ban on Maroussi signing international transfers. Garrison was in Athens when the ban came down. For further Irish-O’Bryant reading, see this 2008 story from the Worcester T&G.

Technically, that’s two centers and a power forward, but who cares.

Ok, the back court is a little tricker. After an exhaustive analysis (Google search) to find an Irish connection to Zack Wright — O’Wright? — I came up empty. Ditto Dionte (Mc)Christmas and Nick “Seamus” Calathes. Marcus (O’)Hatten? Nope.

No worries. Bryan Mullins will handle the point guard duties. The pride of Southern Illinois University worked out for Celtics and the Chicago Bulls after the 2009 NBA draft. He now plays in France and has played for the Irish National team.

Jermaine Turner (photo: Scoring Factory)

Finally, did you think I’d forget Jermaine Turner? He averages 23 points and 18 rebounds per game for Killester in the Irish league. He grew up in NYC but married an Irish woman. They have two daughters and live in Ireland, where he also coaches.

Mullins and Turner know where Greece is on a map — lots of Americans don’t — so they get a waiver to join the team.

Billy Donovan will serve as player-coach. His tailored suit actually has a zipper down the side, and he’ll wear his uniform underneath. He will sink a bunch of 3-pointers, just like during his playing days at Providence College, where he was Conlon’s teammate for one season.

Erin Go Bragh!

Ex-Celtics Giddens, O’Bryant leave Greece

29 Feb

Former NBA first-round draft picks J.R. Giddens and Patrick O’Bryant — both of whom played for the Boston Celtics — have left their Greek clubs. Giddens had surgery in the United States to repair his injured left wrist. O’Bryant plans to play in Puerto Rico.

Giddens, 27, averaged 8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game for PAOK in Thessaloniki. Like Maroussi, PAOK has major financial problems. Giddens almost left the team earlier this winter in a payment dispute, but the sides patched things up.

The swingman, selected 30th overall by the Celtics in the 2008 NBA draft, tweeted that he had surgery on his left wrist last Friday. The Celtics traded Giddens, a New Mexico alum, to the New York Knicks in February 2010.

O’Bryant left Kavala to take more money ($14,000 per month, according to www.basketnet.gr) in Puerto Rico, where he plans to sign with Mayaguez. The 7-footer was the Greek league’s top shot-blocker (1.5 per game) and averaged 9.6 points and 6 rebounds per game.

After playing Sunday, he tweeted: “Just played my last game as a Greek. Love this country. Except the refs. Takin my talents to Puerto Rico now.”

The Celtics signed O’Bryant to a 2-year, $3 million contract before the 2008-09 season. He was traded to the Toronto Raptors in February 2009. O’Bryant was the 9th overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft, selected by the Golden State Warriors. He’s an alum of Bradley University.

Elegar signs with Turkish team

23 Feb

Frank Elegar has signed with Antalya in Turkey’s top division, and it looks like an unofficial Bronx-and-Philly reunion.

Elegar, 25, was the lone import for financially troubled Maroussi. He averaged 9 points (59 percent from the field) and 5 rebounds per game from the center position but left about two weeks ago when the winless team told players that it ran out of money to pay salaries.

At Antalya, Elegar’s new teammates include fellow Bronx native Corey Fisher, 23. Both played their college ball in Philadelphia; Fisher for Villanova and Elegar for Drexel. Also on the roster is Scottie Reynolds, who was Fisher’s teammate at Villanova. Reynolds was cut by the Utah Jazz this pre-season.

Former Boston Celtics first round draft pick (11th overall in 2001) Kedrick Brown, 30, plays for Antalya (4-14), as well. Brown was traded to Cleveland in December 2003. He also played for the 76ers. He averaged 3.6 ppg in 143 NBA games spanning four seasons.

The Celtics also drafted Joseph Forte with the 21st pick in 2001. Among the players they passed on? Tony Parker, taken with the last pick of the first round by the San Antonio Spurs. Just sayin.

Elegar and Brown were teammates two years ago in Turkey when they played for Bornova Belediye.

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