In a vote conducted last month, before he was named CEO of Euroleague Basketball, Paulius Motiejunas was selected as the Gianluigi Porelli EuroLeague Executive of the Year.
This marks the third time, following 2017-18 and 2018-19, that Motiejunas has been thus honored, which is the most in the award's history. The voting process took place in early June and was based on his actions as Zalgiris Kaunas General Manager before and during the 2022-23 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season, which culminated with the Final Four on Motiejunas’s home turf, Zalgirio Arena.
The Executive of the Year award honors the person and club whose management decisions have best exemplified the EuroLeague's commitment to excellence in all facets of club direction during the previous season. Among the categories considered before casting votes are sporting merits, fan experience, and marketing and communications. And under Motiejunas, Zalgiris excelled in all of those areas.
In addition to putting together a playoff team – Zalgiris finished the regular season in seventh place – Motiejunas sat atop an organization that met and surpassed all standards for ticket sales and advertising campaigns. And then all of European basketball descended on Kaunas for the Final Four and could take in firsthand the impressive job he has done there, which includes Zalgiris's state-of-the-art training facilities, its youth academy and the management of Zalgirio Arena.
Thanks to Motiejunas's leadership, Zalgiris has been able to remain a EuroLeague contender despite having a modest budget and playing in one of the league’s smallest markets. Zalgiris sold out 16 of its 17 EuroLeague home games and its average attendance of 14,801 was second highest in the league last season. Its revenue from its playoff home game against FC Barcelona was €1.4 million. More than 350,00 fans attended Zalgiris games in 2022-23 in all competitions, there are 2,500 people on the season ticket waiting list and 70 companies on the waiting list for VIP skyboxes.
The club's revolutionary partnership with Samsung created a Zalgiris limited edition Galaxy S23 smartphone, which featured exclusive protective cases and Zalgiris animations plus a revamped Zalgiris app. The phone and corresponding ad campaign reached nearly 8 million people in less than two months and generated an 80% bump in Zalgiris app users. The buzz about Zalgiris crossed borders, too. When the club re-signed Rolands Smits, it announced the move on billboards in Smits's native Latvia and invited Latvian fans to visit Zalgirio Arena for games, too.
The Gianluigi Porelli EuroLeague Executive of the Year has been awarded annually since 2005. The executive award recognizes those whose efforts build Turkish Airlines EuroLeague clubs into success stories. Mr. Porelli, who served as president of Virtus Bologna for more than two decades, was among the founders of ULEB and later its president. He passed away in 2009.