Twenty years later, Martin Müürsepp’s best game as a Maverick is being celebrated in Estonia
When Martin Müürsepp was playing for the Miami Heat in February of 1997, he was getting ready to enjoy a friendly game of tennis with his Heat teammate, Sasha Danilovic. Just as he was walking over the tennis courts, Danilovic stopped him.
“You don’t know yet?” Danilovic asked. “We (along with Kurt Thomas) got traded. We’re going to Utah to play for Dallas.”
The three new Mavericks players boarded a plane to Salt Lake City, and Müürsepp played three minutes for the Mavericks against the Jazz that same night, a 99-84 Utah victory. He went on to play 31 more games for the Mavericks that season to complete his rookie year with averages 4.3 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.
In his second season, Müürsepp began to show signs of promise, especially once Don Nelson became head coach 16 games into the year. Citing Nelson’s reputation for being unconventional, Müürsepp fondly recalled playing under Nelson during that 1998 season.
“He put me (in) sometimes to play point forward, or stuff that I never heard before. Sometimes he likes to go all smalls (in the game). That was a fun, fun part. He made it interesting.”
On March 5 of that same year, Müürsepp enjoyed what would become his best scoring game of his NBA career. He scored 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in a Mavericks victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at Reunion Arena. Müürsepp has more fond memories of Nelson from that particular game as well.
“I remember that game. We were up against the Clippers (by) a lot of points, maybe 20. And then the game started to take a turn, we were starting to lose. I remember Don Nelson took a timeout, and was yelling at us and said ‘I don’t care. I’m not going to take any of you out. If you lose, YOU are going to lose!’ ”
The Mavericks ended up winning that game by 10 points, in large part due to Müürsepp ‘s strong performance.
That same game is going to be shown at a movie theater in Estonia during the first week of March, celebrating the most successful game by Estonia’s only NBA player, on it’s twenty year anniversary. The event has two purposes. It is meant to honor Martin’s accomplishment and also to serve as motivation for young Estonian’s that anything is possible and to follow their dreams.
Today, Martin is an assistant coach for Estonian basketball teams, while also serving as a board member for the Estonian Basketball Federation.
Thank you for listening, I hope you enjoy the episode.
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