Rusconi, the 1st Italian in the NBA: “Bologna offered me $1 billion, Phoenix $400,000: I chose the U.S.”

Stefano Rusconi was the first Italian player to have landed in the NBA and he did so with the Phoenix Suns jersey, shortly thereafter joined by Vincenzo Esposito also in the 1995-1996 season, and he told the Boomerball podcast about the “crazy” decision – from an economic point of view – to go to the NBA:

“I was the MVP of the Italian league, Bologna offered me 1 billion lire net, Phoenix 400 thousand dollars, but my agent Toio Ferracini advised me: ‘it’s an opportunity that won’t happen again, play it’, Rusconi recounted. In preseason I was always playing and scoring even 14-15 points. Then one day they gave up Majerle, a wing-guard. In his place they took Hot Rod Williams, a pivot. And I never saw the court again. To be a “5” I lacked some inches, I should have turned into a big wing. In Italy I was playing to win and above all I missed the group context. Mind you, it was all great: for trips, the bus would go straight onto the airport runway and we would fly in a private jet with the team logo. But then, when you arrived at your destination, they would say, ‘See you tomorrow at 9 a.m. for practice,’ and everyone would go their own way. They wanted to trade me to Cleveland, I said, ‘no thanks,’ and went back to Treviso.”

Source: The Treviso Gazette

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Alessandro Saraceno
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