Mario Kasun is a 34 year old 213cm Croatian that is a retired ex NBA player. He started his career in Croatia with Gorica (D2) and was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers (NBA,2rd(41) in 2002. He then played for the Frankfurt Opel Skyliners from 2002-2004 winning the BBL title in2004. He played in the NBA from 2004-2006 playing for the Orlando Magic playing a total of 72 games. He then played two seasons for FC Barcelona and two years for Efes Pilsen before going home to Croatia to play for KK Zagreb where he played 9 games averaging 8.4ppg, 2.9rpg, FGP: 64.4%, FT: 78.3%; Croatian League: EuroChallenge: 2 games: 17.5ppg, 6.0rpg, 1.0bpg; injured in Nov.’10 and was off for 1 month: EuroCup Qualifying Round: 2 games: 11.5ppg, 5.5rpg; Adriatic League: 21 games: 13.3ppg, Reb-5(6.4rpg), FGP: 63.3%, FT: 67.5%. He has played for the Croatian national team playing at the 2005, 2007 and 2009 European championships. He also has won the Spanish and Turkish cups. He played for Montepaschi Siena (Italy-SerieA) in the 2012-2013 season playing 9 games averaging 6.2ppg, 3.4rpg, FGP: 58.1%, FT: 50.0%; Euroleague: 8 games: 5.0ppg, 4.0rpg, He then played for Al Wasl Dubai (United Arab Emirates-D1) and briefly for BC Levski Sofia (Bulgaria-NBL) in 2014 before retiring. He spoke to German Hoops concerning his career and death of former teammate Chris Williams.
Mario thanks for talking to German Hoops. Where are you at the moment and how is retired basketball life treating you these days?
My life after basketball is pretty interesting and I am doing things I enjoy. I am working with motor cyles and doing Real Estate. I am really enjoying my life after basketball.
Before we talk about your long professional career, I have to ask you about your ex teammate Chris Williams who recently passed away. When did you exactly hear about his passing and what were your first thoughts about it?
Regarding Christopher, it was a huge shock. We lost a great friend. He was an amazing basketball player, but even more an amazing friend. It is pretty sad that he left so early, but I am convinced that he went to a better place.
Tyrone Ellis is a former professional player from Dallas, Texas that currently is head coach of D-League team Northern Arizona Suns. As a player he had a stellar career in Europe showing that a player can make a career coming from a NAIA school from Southern Nazarene playing in countries like Germany, Italy, Turkey and Spain. In 2004 he helped the Opel Skyliners win the BBL league title. He played for three Spanish teams Girona, Cajasol Sevilla and Asefa Estudiantes Madrid playing six seasons in the best league in Europe. He also played for teams like Eldo Basket Napoli and Besiktas ColaTurka Istanbul . He retired in 2012 and went into coaching being an assistant for D-League teams Tulsa, Reno, Grand Rapids and Bakersfield. He spoke to German Hoops about the death of former teammate Chris Williams and coaching the Northern Arizona Suns.
Ty thanks for talking to German Hoops! Where are you at the moment and how is your basketball life treating you at the moment?
No problem Miles, my pleasure. I’m currently on the road trying to finish up the season strong.
Before we talk about your coaching career, we have to talk about your ex teammate and friend Chris Williams who passed away recently. How did you hear about it and what was your first thought?
Our friend, Marlon Garnett, sent me a text after my game around midnight. Marlon played with Chris in Iran. I was confused, hurt, and in disbelief. I am still mourning my friend’s death. I don’t want to believe he is gone.
Postgame interview back in 2005: TYRONE ELLIS and MILES SCHMIDT-SCHEUBER after the Opel Skyliners eliminated Alba Berlin from the 2005 BBL Play-Offs
Chris Williams was 36 years old and just suddenly past away due to blood clotting. Did you have any more contact to him the last years? When you remember having your last conversation with him?
Yes, Chris and I kept in touch. He was the best man in my wedding. The last conversation I had with Chris was when I got this job. He called to congratulate me and tell me how proud of me he is.
Chris Williams and Miles Schmidt-Scheuber, 2005
It didn’t really matter what you called Chris Williams (199-F/G-80, college: Virginia) some called him big smooth or chris cross, but one could have come up with thousands of names for his amazing athletic game as he owned the paint area as he was nearly unstopable, but today the former Frankfurt Skyliner passed away due to blood clotting to the heart at the age of 36. It didn’t matter where he played in school or in the pros, he was a winner putting up great stats everywhere he went and won titles in Australia, Germany and Korea in a 11 year professional career. In Germany, fans will remember him as not only one of the top power forwards in the BBL, but one of the best players in the league from 2003-2005. He was instrumental in the Opel Skyliners winning the 2004 BBL league title and reaching the final in 2005 as he formed the dangerous and very feared Bermuda triangle with American Tyrone Ellis and German national player Pascal Roller.
One guy that remembers him still is current Colgate assistant coach Michael Jordan who had a standout career in Europe and battled Williams with the Artland Dragons from 2003-2005. “Chris was a good player but an even better person. We had some good battles and good times in Europe. He will be missed”, stressed Michael Jordan. Williams wasn’t only top on the court, but was a genuine great guy that always wanted to help the best way he could and had a heart of gold. Ex Licher Basket Baeren guard Jermale Jones was best friends with Chris William’s brother, but remembers Chris in only the best way. “Chris was such a great guy. He was always willing to help people no matter what it was. He was a giver in all aspects. Chris is a guy you would want to be friends with because of his personality and the way he carried himself. Chris tried to help me in every way to help me sign my first deal overseas but it was hard for him to get me a job cause I had no experience at the time and just last summer he was trying to get me signed in the China league. He always wanted to help”, stressed Jermale Jones.