Mario Antoine Elie (born November 26, 1963) is an American basketball coach and former National Basketball Association(NBA) player. Elie grew up in New York City and played college basketball at American International College. In the 1985 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks drafted Elie in the seventh round as the 160th overall pick.
Elie began his career in 1986 playing in the Irish Superleague and later elsewhere overseas and in U.S. minor leagues USBLand CBA. He first played in the NBA in 1990 for the Philadelphia 76ers and later played for the Golden State Warriors,Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns before retiring from the sport in 2001. Elie won three NBA titles: two in 1994 and 1995 with the Rockets and the 1999 title with the Spurs.
Elie began his coaching career in 2003 as an assistant with the Spurs and later held similar positions with the Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings before joining the New Jersey Nets (now Brooklyn Nets) in 2011.
Elie, who is of Haitian heritage, grew up in New York City. He was named "Mario" for opera singer Mario Lanza. His father died after Elie graduated from college. He had a brother named Clark, an amateur basketball player who died in a car accident in October 2009. He also has a sister named Nancy.
Elie attended Power Memorial Academy (same high school as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), where he was a teammate of Chris Mullin under coach Steve Donohue. Elie played street ball in Central Park and other locations in New York City during the 1980s, trying and failing several times to get into the NBA. His nickname on the New York playgrounds was "The Jedi".
He played college basketball at American International College in Springfield, MA. Though Elie led AIC to their conference's first NCAA Division II Tournament Quarter-Final, he was at first overlooked by NBA teams. Elie was selected with the 160th pick (out of 162 total) in the 1985 NBA Draft by the Milwaukee Bucks. However, he was waived by the Bucks less than two months later. He was also on the pre-season roster for the 1990-91 Los Angeles Lakers, but was waived before the season started.
In 1986, he started his professional career at Dart Killester in Ireland. He later played in the Portuguese League with theOvarense Aerosoles, then in the World Basketball League, and also spent two years in the Continental Basketball Association with the Albany Patroons. He also played briefly in the Argentine League, for Unión de Santa Fe.[
Later in the 1990-91 season, Elie finally broke into the NBA, playing three games for the Philadelphia 76ers, while on a 10-day contract. He then spent the rest of the season with the Golden State Warriors, and also remained a Warrior in 1991-92. Elie spent the 1992-93 season with the Portland Trail Blazers, before being traded to the Houston Rockets prior to the 1993-94 season.
Elie won two NBA championships with the Rockets, first in 1994 and again in 1995, making some incredible clutch three-point field goals and getting the nicknames Super Mario and Junkyard Dog.
The highlight of Elie's career came when he hit a clutch three-pointer in Game 7 of the 1995 Western Conference Semifinalsagainst the Phoenix Suns to put the Rockets up 113-110 with 7.1 seconds to play. The shot is called the Kiss of Death by Rockets fans, as Elie made a taunting kissing gesture towards the Suns' bench shortly after the shot was made.
While Elie was a key role player for the Rockets off the bench throughout the regular season and the playoffs, he became a starter in the 1995 NBA Finals. This paid off for the Rockets, as he averaged 16.3 points per game, almost double his regular season average, while shooting a stellar 64% from the field. He was also 8 for 14 (.571) from the three-point line, hitting 7 of 10 three-pointers in Games 3 and 4.
Elie played for the Rockets through the 1997-98 season, when he was signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs. He won a third NBA championship when he was part of the Spurs' championship team in 1999.
After playing two seasons for San Antonio and playing the 2000-01 season for the Phoenix Suns, Elie retired. Elie finished with 6,265 points in 732 career NBA games.
In 2007, Elie was inducted into the New York Basketball Hall of Fame.
On September 28, 2007, Elie was hired by the Dallas Mavericks as an assistant coach. He served with the Mavericks for one season. On June 22, 2009, Paul Westphal hired Elie as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings. On December 8, 2011, Elie was added to former teammate Avery Johnson's coaching staff with the New Jersey Nets.[