A lot of basketballers have their future stardom all planned for them.
Big numbers in high school, a year taking a lot of shots in college, then a spot in the NBA with a guaranteed contract as they are picked in the first round.
That didn’t happen with Mario Elie, as he played all over the world before getting to the NBA. Something that did happen when he was in the NBA was that his teams won, and it was often Elie with a key play that helped those teams get to the NBA Finals and win it all.
Mario Elie went to American International College, and is the only NBA played who did attend school there, and had four year averages of 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. That was good enough to get him drafted in 1985, in the 7th round. Elie was the 160th overall pick.
He didn’t play for Milwaukee, and he didn’t play in the NBA until five years later.
Minor leagues and international teams awaited Elie. He was in the United States Basketball League, the World Basketball League and the CBA, the Continental Basketball Association, where he was a star for the Albany Patroons where he scored 20 points per game. Around the world, Elie was on professional teams in Portugal, Argentina and Ireland.
The Lakers looked at him in October, 1990 but he didn’t make the team. His first NBA games, all three of them, were with the 76ers. He then landed as a free agent at a team that could use his skills, the Golden State Warriors.
During those days they used some small lineups and Elie was one of the top seven players fro scoring average there, who were all 6-7 in height or under. Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway, Sarunas Marciulionis, Rod Higgins and Tom Tolbert put up the points along with the 6-4 Elie.
After one and a half seasons with Golden State, Portland signed Elie as a free agent. He played in every game, scoring 8.6 points per game for them in 1992-93. He was then traded to Houston for a second round pick, a steal for the Rockets.
Elie arrived in Houston and helped them to two championships in his first two years there, 1994 and 1995. He did everything they needed, playing shooting guard or small forward, defending, scoring at a good percentage and hitting important shots as teams collapsed inside on Olajuwon.
During his five seasons with Houston, Elie averaged between 8.4 points and 11.7 points per game for the Rockets. His assists averages ranged from 2.3 to 4.0 per game.
The next team for Mario Elie was the San Antonio Spurs, and in his first season there he won the NBA title. The Spurs hardly lost a game as they went through Minnesota, the L.A. Lakers, Portland and New York for the title. Elie was an important and efficient fifth option on offense for them after Tim Duncan, David Robinson, Sean Elliott and Avery Johnson.
After two seasons with the Spurs, Elie moved to Phoenix as a free agent for the final season of his NBA career. The Suns were one of several teams that Elie had sent out of the playoffs with clutch shots when Elie was on his way to NBA championships.