As the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team faced off against old Big East rival Georgetown on Saturday, plenty of basketball alumni made the trip for both sides. Former Orange stars Kueth Duany, Arinze Onuaku and Etan Thomas were in attendance. Dikembe Mutombo, whose son Ryan plays on Georgetown, was there on the opposite side.
And Rony Seikaly made the trip from Miami with his friend Alonzo Mourning.
“I flew up with my old nemesis here Alonzo Mourning, watching my very old nemesis Patrick Ewing,” Seikaly said humorously.
Seikaly, dressed in a black hoodie with glasses and a Syracuse t-shirt to match, was there to show support for his former team, rooting on the Orange and reminiscing on “all those good times we’ve had.”
The former Orange star who played in the 1987 National Championship game went on to have a successful career in the NBA with the Miami Heat. He graduated from Syracuse as the program’s all-time leading rebounder, second in blocked shots and fourth in scoring. He’s since had his jersey retired, which hangs in the rafters of the Carrier Dome.
As the story goes, Seikaly—born in Lebanon and having played high school basketball in Greece—wasn’t scouted or recruited to play college basketball. That is until he visited his older brother who was attending Colgate. Coincidentally, during the time of Seikaly’s visit, Syracuse was holding its summer basketball camp. So Seikaly simply walked into the Carrier Dome and looked to sign up. Jim Boeheim thought it must’ve been a prank to have a 6-foot-10 big man that nobody knew anything about trying to sign up for his camp.
Rather than sign up for the camp, Boeheim invited Seikaly to play against the counselors at night, which usually consists of current and former Syracuse players. Seikaly agreed to the invitation. After he had an impressive showing in pickup, Boeheim offered him a scholarship — or rather, he didn’t give the big man much of a choice.
“Here’s a letter of intent. You’re coming to school here,” Boeheim told Seikaly.
Seikaly obliged. He received interest from other schools and caught the attention of Five-Star Basketball Camp afterwards, but he remained firm in his commitment to Syracuse and enrolled in 1984.
For Seikaly, Saturday’s game against Georgetown was a trip down memory lane. He played against the Hoyas 11 times during his four years at SU. But on Saturday there was an added twist: his daughter now attends to Georgetown.
“I’m going to bleed Orange regardless. My daughter can go to Georgetown, anybody else can go to Georgetown but I bleed Orange and that’s the most important thing,” Seikaly said.
The two of them sat courtside opposite the Georgetown bench along with Mourning. Seikaly and Mourning didn’t play against each other in college as Mourning began his career at Georgetown the year after Seikaly graduated, but they did play against each other in the NBA.
While Seikaly said he doesn’t get to many Syracuse games, he still watches his alma mater when he can. He doesn’t talk with the coaching staff much these days, content to be “just a fan.”
“I watch the games when they’re on TV and stuff like that but I don’t travel,” Seikaly said. “(Georgetown) was a special game for me because it has a special meaning to me personally as well with all the wars that I’ve had with Patrick.”
Georgetown took the meeting on Saturday, overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit to give the Hoyas a 4-3 edge in the series since the Orange left the Big East.
Seikaly posed for pictures before the game and during halftime. He was gracious with his time for camera crews and reporters. Although his team didn’t get the win, he hinted at the possibility of returning to Syracuse next season where his jersey is retired.
“Maybe next year I’ll go to the Dome for the Georgetown game,” Seikaly said.