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.
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!