Rony Seikaly: The Best Arab Basketball Player of All Time?
By: Christian Jimenez/ Arab America Contributing Writer
The NBA is full of many international players from around the world with some famous examples being Manu Ginobili from Argentina and Giannis Antetokounmpo from Greece. The success of these players shows that the international community has made great strides in playing basketball. However, did you know that the Arab World has basketball players of their own with the most famous Arab basketball player of all time being that of Rony Seikaly?
Seikaly’s Early Career:
Rony Seikaly was born in Beirut, Lebanon on May 10, 1965, from where he would emigrate to Greece when he was young. In Greece, he would enroll in the American School known as ACS Athens, which is where he first became interested in sports. Some of these sports include volleyball, soccer, and track and field. However, it would be basketball that would be his true calling when he started to play with Panathinaikos, which was a professional basketball team in Greece.
In 1984, he moved to the United States and played for the Syracuse University basketball team in New York. When he first started playing basketball at Syracuse, he was quickly placed in the starting lineup, despite being fouled out in a third of his games and playing only around 25 minutes in them according to orangehoops.org. Seikaly also had a poor offensive game as well since he could only dunk or take short-range shots, but he was a tenacious player, a good rebounder, and an excellent shot blocker. During his junior year, his great playing really came through as he helped lead his team to the NCAA championship against Indiana where they would, unfortunately, lose the game. However, he averaged around 22 points and 11 rebounds throughout the tournament and would be rewarded with a spot on the John R. Wooden All American Team. During his senior year, Seikaly became the best player and one of the leading scorers for Syracuse and improved his offensive game by developing his shooting range. Seikaly would then help Syracuse win the Big East tournament that year, but they did not have as much success as the year before because they didn’t make it to the NCAA championship.
Seikaly’s NBA Career and Aftermath:
After his senior year of college at Syracuse, Seikaly would join the NBA in 1988 where he would be drafted by the Miami Heat with the 9th pick. He would play his first NBA season with the Miami Heat with 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game in the 1988-1989 NBA season according to basketballreference.com. He would then achieve around 17 points, 10 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, and 1.1 steals in the 1989-1990 NBA season. This impressive performance would earn him the Most Improved Player Award for the 1989-1990 season. In the 1990-1991 season, Seikaly would improve further with an average of around 17 points and 11 rebounds per game. It was also during this season that Seikaly along with Glen Rice helped the Miami Heat achieve its first NBA playoff berth in the team’s history, as the Heat was only founded in 1988. Despite getting into the playoffs, Seikaly and the Miami Heat would lose to one of the greatest teams of all time, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Rony Seikaly would then go on to play around six seasons with the Miami Heat, as he and Glen Rice were considered some of the greatest Miami Heat players of all time, at least until the arrival of Dwayne Wade, Shaquille O’Neal, and LeBron James. Seikaly’s career average for the Miami Heat would be around 15.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks.
After Miami, he would then join the Golden State Warriors where he would not play as well with an average of 12 points, 8 rebounds, and a block per game. He played for the Warriors for around two years from 1994-1996 before being traded to the Orlando Magic to fill in the void left by Shaq when he decided to join the Los Angeles Lakers. In Orlando, Seikaly would then go on to recover his stats to around 16.5 points, 9 rebounds, and a block during his tenure there from the 1996-1997 season and part of the 1997-1998 season. He would then end his NBA career with the New Jersey Nets after being traded from the Magic during 1998 and would play his final season from 1998-1999. He ended his NBA career with around 14.7 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks per game. After the NBA, he would also play a short time abroad with FC Barcelona Basket with around 15.3 points and 8 rebounds in the Spanish League. Overall, Rony Seikaly has had a great NBA and basketball career playing in America as he would be one of the faster and more athletic centers of the NBA during the 90s.
Seikaly retired at the end of the 2000 season. He has now gotten into the music business and has become a DJ for some of the largest nightclubs in the world. Seikaly is also occasionally featured on Sirius XM radio with his weekly show named ‘Sugar-Free Radio’ according to ra.co. He is also around 55 years old and married to Brazilian Model, Martha Graeff according to celebrityborn.com. However, despite his music career and his personal life, Rony Seikaly is famous for being one of the best foundational players in Miami Heat history. He will also be remembered for inspiring countless Arab American basketball players around the world as he is considered the best Arab NBA player of all time.
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