Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

7-7 Skyscraper Muresan Overcomes Tumor on Gland, Life in a Strange Land

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

7-7 Skyscraper Muresan Overcomes Tumor on Gland, Life in a Strange Land

Article excerpt

Forty minutes after practice, the Washington Bullets' newest star, Chris Webber, is holding court outside the gym.

Suddenly, the fan stops fawning over Webber and looks up as if a skyscraper has planted itself in front of him. Gheorghe Muresan, wearing a XXXL Washington Redskins leather jacket and XXXL gray sweats, is passing by on his way to his truck. Everything about the guy they call Ghitza (GEET-za) is XXXL.

Ghitza translates to "Tiny," but when you are 7 feet 7, nothing about you is small. In Muresan's case, that goes for his will to succeed. In less than two NBA seasons, that has proved to be XXXL all the way.

"He's been through the mill in many ways," said Bullets GM John Nash. "And yet, he's got the most positive outlook and attitude of anyone around here."

It is so positive that Muresan, a Romanian from the Transylvanian city of Cluj, lists getting dunked on, run over and sent sprawling by Shaquille O'Neal, all on one play, as his No. 1 career highlight.

"Shaquille?" says Muresan, 23, in his thick accent. "Veeer-y queek. Veeer-y queek."

Muresan, pronounced MER-a-san, came to the Bullets as the 30th pick in the 1993 draft. Nash first learned of him when he saw a picture in a European basketball magazine. "My first reaction was, `Wow! Who is this guy?' " remembered Nash.

There are no more secrets when it comes to NBA scouting. As soon as Nash procured some tapes of Muresan playing for Pau Orthez in the French League, word throughout the NBA spread about the giant Romanian.

But four clubs that targeted Muresan as a potential first-round pick passed, in part because Muresan had a tumor on his pituitary gland.

The presence of a tumor on the gland that influences growth accounts for Muresan's height. Born to a retired factory worker who is 5-9 and a mother who was 5-7, Muresan at 14 was already 6-8. …

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