Have a good read. For the first time Sarunas is talking not of the lack of team play, but of all-business attitude in the NBA.
Jasikevicius laments league's business-oriented attitude
By Steve Ginsburg
Sarunas Jasikevicius, who waited nearly a decade to join the NBA, says the league's emphasis on money is draining his enthusiasm.
"I was surprised the NBA is much more a business-oriented situation," the Indiana Pacers guard told Reuters.
"It's not so much pure basketball, like we play in Europe, like we played in college. Here, it's a business first of all.
"That's bad. It takes away a lot from the game, the love of the game. It's my first time like this," said the Lithuanian.
But Jasikevicius, a journeyman college performer at Maryland who became a top player in Europe, concedes the NBA is "something very special".
"The best players are here," he said. "You get to compete against the best players every night. The change of scenery all the time, traveling. It can be pretty exciting."
Few expected the 6-foot-4, 195-pound guard to make it to the NBA after a solid yet unspectacular college career in which he averaged 12 points as a senior at Maryland.
Even Jasikevicius believed he was not NBA material and went home in 1998 to play in Lithuania one year and Slovenia for another while honing his game to become more than simply a jump shooter.
Jasikevicius then joined Barcelona for three seasons, earning widespread praise while winning one Euroleague and two Spanish League titles.
Maccabi captured his services for two seasons, a move that paid off for the Tel Aviv squad with two Euroleague championships.
"Coming out of college, I always said I wasn't good enough to play in the NBA," he said.
"But later I thought I was good enough. There was just not a single opportunity.
"In the last couple of years, the opportunity presented itself again and, as a European basketball player, it was the only thing that was left for me."
Clearly helping him in the eyes of NBA scouts were his performances in three games against the United States in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics when he averaged 23 points.
Pacers president Larry Bird was unconcerned about signing a 29-year-old rookie to a three-year, $12 million contract.
"His age didn't matter," Bird told Reuters. "Not for us. It wasn't even a factor.
"He plays the game the way it's supposed to be played. He's a team player.
"In this league the guys are bigger, stronger and quicker. He's getting better every night."
After his Olympic heroics, Jasikevicius became hot property and signed with Indiana after being approached by at least five NBA clubs.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle says Jasikevicius is "getting better every game because he's learning more about the league, learning more about his team".
"This league is tough," said Carlisle. "Every minute you're on the court, you're under duress because it's very competitive.
"Every minute you're out there, you're going to become a better player and he's done that."
Jasikevicius is averaging nearly nine points and 3.2 assists for the Pacers, who were considered a pre-season powerhouse.
But injuries and the controversy over disgruntled All-Star Ron Artest has left the team hovering around the .500 mark.
When he was coming out of college, it was said Jasikevicius was too slow. Carlisle, though, believes he atones for any perceived weaknesses.
"Any physical limitations he has, he makes up for with effort, knowledge of the game and studying his opponents," he said.
"He's spent a lot of time watching film of upcoming opponents so he knows what the guy's strengths, weaknesses and tendencies are.
"That's a sign of a guy that's a real student of the game. Probably a future coach, if he wants to do that."
Jasikevicius said he was unconcerned about statistics, he simply wants to win.
Now that Artest has been traded by the team, the Pacers guard is hoping things will settle down.
"I just really love that I'm on the court there every night competing and trying to help the team," he said.
"I'm more comfortable every day with the system, with the NBA, with everything that goes on here.
"I think the gap between European and international players is not as big as it used to be," he added. "I think in seven or eight years you're going to see the NBA being half international, half Americans."