Sean Michael Elliott (born February 2, 1968) is a retired American professional basketball player who starred at small forward in both the college and professional ranks. He attended the University of Arizona, where he had a standout career as a two-time All-American, winner of the 1989 John R. Wooden Award, the 1989 Adolph Rupp Trophy, the 1989 NABC Player of the Year, 1989 AP Player of the Year, and two time Pac-12 Player of the Year (in 1988–1989).
He was the #3 pick of the 1989 NBA draft, was named to the 1990 NBA All-Rookie Second Team, was a two-time NBA All-Star, and earned an NBA championship in 1999.
The 1998-1999 season would be shortened to 50 games as a result of a league lockout, but the Spurs would win 37 of the games for the west’s best record led by Duncan and Robinson, with Elliott starting in all 50 games with an average of 11.2 points a game. The Spurs entered the playoffs with a dominating defensive attack bolstered by the big man duo of Duncan and Robinson, and they first defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 3-1 in the first round. San Antonio would then pull off a 4-game sweep of the much improved Los Angeles Lakers, led by superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Next up would be the Portland Trail Blazers, another resurgent squad, in the conference finals. The Spurs would take game 1 on their home floor, and in game 2 the Trail Blazers held a 2-point lead with 9 seconds left to play in regulation. Elliott received a pass nearly stolen by Blazer Stacey Augmon in the corner, before Elliott caught the ball within an inch of the sideline (narrowly avoiding going out of bounds). He managed to stay on his tiptoes rather than planting his feet, before releasing a 21-foot three point attempt just over the outstretched arms of 6 foot 11 forward Rasheed Wallace. The shot went in, giving the Spurs a 1-point lead and the eventual victory. The shot would go on to be called the “Memorial Day Miracle” because of its improbability and the date on which it was made. Elliott finished the game with 22 points. and shifted the momentum of the series to the Spurs, who would go on to sweep Portland. The Spurs had finally made the NBA Finals, facing the surprising New York Knicks, who had managed to make the Finals despite being the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference but who were missing star center Patrick Ewing. San Antonio dominated the Knicks in the first two games, and while the Knicks managed to win game 3, the Spurs combination of Duncan, Robinson and effective play by veterans such as Elliott (14 points in game 4), Avery Johnson and Jaren Jackson proved too much for the Knicks. The Spurs won game 5 in Madison Square Garden to wrap up the series and win their first NBA Championship. Elliott averaged 11.9 points in 17 games in the playoffs while shooting 40 percent from beyond the three point arc.
Shortly after the championship run, Elliott announced that he had played despite having a kidney disease, focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, and that he would require a transplant. He underwent surgery on August 16 of that year, receiving a kidney from his older brother, Noel. On March 13, 2000, Elliott became the first player to return after a kidney transplant, in a game against the Atlanta Hawks. He would only play in 19 games in the 2000 season, and San Antonio failed to repeat as champions. Elliott started in 34 of 52 games in the following 2000-2001 season, as the Spurs won the best record in the league but lost to the eventual champion Lakers in the conference finals.
Elliott announced his retirement in 2001. He finished his career averaging 14.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. Elliott is the fifth all-time franchise leader in three-point field goals made (563) and fourth for three-point attempts (1,485).
His #32 is retired by both the University of Arizona and the San Antonio Spurs.
Career highlights and awards
NBA champion (1999)
2× NBA All-Star (1993, 1996)
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (1990)
No. 32 retired by San Antonio Spurs
John R. Wooden Award (1989)
Adolph Rupp Trophy (1989)
NABC Player of the Year (1989)
AP Player of the Year (1989)
2× Consensus first-team All-American (1988–1989)
2× Pac-10 Player of the Year (1988–1989)
No. 32 retired by the University of Arizona
Men’s basketball Competitor for United States
FIBA World Championship
Gold medal – first place 1986 Spain National team
Silver medal – second place 1987 Zagreb National team