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30 Years of Heat: All-Time All-Player Countdown #72-70

Alec Kessler is one of three players featured in today’s countdown.

Alec Kessler

72. Vladimir Stepania

Vladimir Stepania was a 7' center from Georgia, formerly a province of the USSR. Born on May 8th, 1976, he started out his professional career with KD Slovan (Slovenia) in 1995-96. He also played with KK Union Olimipjia (Slovenia) through 1999. The Seattle SuperSonics selected him in the first round of the 1999 draft, with the 27th overall pick.

Stepania played two seasons with the Sonics (53 games). He scored 3.8 points with 2.3 rebounds per game, playing just under 10 minutes on each occasion. He spent 2000-01 with the New Jersey Nets (29 games), scoring 2.8 points with 3.8 rebounds per appearance. He signed as a free agent with Miami prior to the 2001-02 season for two years and $1,915,850.

In 2001-02, Stepania played in 67 games, starting four times at center. He shot 47% from the field in 13.2 minutes average, scoring 4.3 points with four rebounds and just under a block per game. He notched two double-doubles, scoring in double figures eight times through the campaign. On November 6th, in an 87-85 win over Seattle, he scored 10 points on five-of-seven shooting, collecting four rebounds in 15 minutes. On November 16th, in a rare start, he scored 19 points with 12 rebounds and seven blocks in 45 minutes as the Heat lost to the Charlotte Hornets, 96-87. In a 103-89 win over the Orlando Magic on April 17th, he scored 12 points on six-of-seven shooting with three rebounds in 17 minutes. Miami posted a 36-46 record, missing the playoffs by six games.

2002-03 would see Stepania play in 79 games, starting six at center. He shot 43.3% in a career high 20.2 minutes per contest. He also achieved career highs with 5.6 points and seven rebounds earned per game. Seven times he posted double doubles, scoring 10 or more points 15 times. In a 97-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks on November 19th, he scored nine points with a career high 15 rebounds. On New Year's Day, in a 107-73 victory against the Atlanta Hawks, he scored 16 points on six-of-seven shooting, with 13 rebounds and four steals. On March 14th, he scored a career high 17 points in 28 minutes, shooting eight-of-10 field goals. Miami went 25-57 on the season. Stepania was not retained for a third season.

Stepania joined the Portland TrailBlazers in 2003-04, playing in 42 games. He retired following the season at the age of 28.

Stat Line: 146 games, 17.0 minutes, .447 field goals, .508 free throws, 5.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 blocks, 0.5 steals, 13.7 PER, 4.7 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 624.4

71. Alec Kessler

Alec Kessler was a 6'11" native of Roswell, GA. Born on January 13th, 1967, he elected to stay local in higher education, joining the University of Georgia Bulldogs for four collegiate seasons, graduating with the Class of 1990. He started for his last three, and scored 21 points with 10.3 rebounds in an average game as a senior. He was selected by the Houston Rockets in the first round, with the 12th overall pick. The Rockets immediately traded him to Miami for Carl Herrera and Dave Jamerson.

As a rookie, Kessler played 78 games for the Heat, starting 18 from the center position. He shot 42.5% in scoring six points with four rebounds per game. He finished in double figures 22 times, including six double-doubles. On Valentine's Day, in a 141-112 win over the Denver Nuggets, He scored 21 points with 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.

1991-92 would see Kessler play in 77 contests, starting four at the power forward position. He scored five and a half points with four rebounds in 15 minutes per game. He scored 10 or more points 13 times, including one double double. On December 7th, he scored 13 on six-of-seven shooting with seven boards in a 109-108 loss to the Phoenix Suns. He would see his only career postseason action, playing 12 minutes against the Chicago Bulls and finishing with two points, a rebound, a foul and a turnover in two games.

In 1992-93, Kessler only played in 40 games, starting two at small forward. He shot a career best 46.7% from the floor, averaging four points with two and a half rebounds in 10 minutes per game. He finished in double figures five times, including on April 21st. He scored 17 points with nine rebounds in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, 107-97.

Kessler played very sparingly in his final NBA season, 1993-94. He only appeared 15 times and averaged four and a half minutes when he got in. He shot five-of-nine from distance, which makes me think he may have ignored his niche through his short career (he was a 41.7% career three point shooter).

After playing briefly with Olimpia Stefanel Milano in Italy, Kessler returned to school, earning a medical degree and becoming a practicing orthopedic surgeon in the Pensacola, FL area. He suffered a heart attack on October 13th, 2007 and suffered an untimely death at the age of 40.

Stat Line: 210 games, 14.0 minutes, .426 field goals, .744 free throws, 5.2 points, 3.6 rebounds, 9.6 PER, 2.0 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 625.6

70. John Shasky

John Shasky, a 6'11" center from Birmingham, MI, was born on July 31st, 1964. A product of Brother Rice High in his hometown, he played four seasons of college ball with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. He started through his last three, averaging 14 points and seven rebounds through his last two seasons. After graduating wtih the Class of 1986, the Utah Jazz selected him in the third round, with the 61st overall pick. He was waived after training camp, and played his first two professional seasons between Cholet (France), Basket Brescia (Italy), and the Rapid City Thrillers (CBA).

The expansion version of our favorite team decided to give Shasky a chance, signing him to a $125,000 contract just before the start of training camp. He provided a big man off the bench to give fellow rookie Rony Seikaly a breather now and then, playing 65 games in total, including four starts. He played 14.5 minutes per appearance, averaging five and a half points on 48.8% shooting. He scored in double figures 10 times, including two double doubles. On March 10th, in a rare Miami victory (131-130 against the Denver Nuggets), he scored a season high 19 points with 10 rebounds and three assists in 45 minutes. On April 2nd, he scored 16 points on seven-of-eight shooting with 12 rebounds. The Heatwaived him just before the 1989-90 season.

Shasky later played with the Golden State Warriors (14 games), the Dallas Mavericks (57 games), the Palacanstro Trapani (Italy), Iraklis Thessaloniki (Greece), Papagou Athens (Greece), Forum Filatelico (Spain), Apollon Patras (Greece), and Jovenhut Badalona (Spain).

Stat Line: 65 games, 14.5 minutes, .488 field goals, .689 free throws, 5.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 12.7 PER, 1.9 Win Shares.

Cumulative GameScore: 642.3