Rony Seikaly Biography

The most famous Arab American basketball player, Rony Seikaly was born May 10, 1965 in Beirut, Lebanon.  However, he did not spend very long in Lebanon as he moved to Greece where he graduated from high school at American School in Athens.  From there, he moved to New York and attended Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York starting in the fall of 1984. 

His successful basketball career started here at Syrcause as an Orangeman.  In his freshman year he averaged 25 min in 31 games while scoring 8.1 points per game.  His stats continued to improve through his college career.  The highlight of his college career occurred when the Orangemen made it to the 1987 national championship game against Indiana.  Unfortunately, his team fell a little bit short to a strong Indiana team by the score of 74-73.  Seikaly scored 18 points, had 10 rebounds, and had a championship game record 3 blocks.  In his senior season, he averaged a near double-double with 16.3 points per game and 9.6 rebounds per game.  These stats helped him become a consensus 2nd Team All-American and win a place on the Wooden Award All-American Team.

His pro career started in 1988 as he became the Miami Heat's first ever draft pick with the 9th overall pick.  Seikaly didn't become a real threat in the NBA until his sophomore season.  He broke the Heat record for most blocked shots in one game (8) on November 7th, 1989.  From there, Rony became one of the Heat's best players as he led the team in many statistical categories including rebounds and blocks.  In 1990, Rony won the NBA's Most Improved Player Award which is given to the player that shows the most improvement over the course of the season.  He enjoyed six seasons with the Heat until he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in 1994.  Over the next five years he would be traded to the Orlando Magic and New Jersey Nets where his production began to drop off.  He played only 18 games with the Nets until he was forced to retire when he had major reconstructive surgery on his foot.

Not only has Rony Seikaly made a name for himself on the court but also off the court.  He hosts the annual Rony Seikaly Golf Tournament to benefit cystic fibrosis.  He also made sure to visit Greece every offseason to see his family during his NBA career.  Moreover, most recently his wife, Elsa Benitez, became famous as she graced the cover of the 2001 Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue:



ESPN wrote a very fascinating article about Rony Seikaly, his wife, and how the 2001 swimsuit issue changed their lives.  The article is titled "Don't take my wife, please" and can be found here.  Rony and his wife met about six years ago through a mutual friend.  He finds it ironic that his wife is on the cover knowing he was in the swimsuit issue in 1986.  Nonetheless, he wasn't wearing a swimsuit but he was there because of his success on  the basketball court.  His annual golf tournament and wife's stardom have people remembering him for other things than basketball.  Nevertheless, Rony Seikaly enjoyed a successful college and pro basketball career.  He will go down as one of the most important Arab American sports players in history.



Sources: "Elsa Benitez"