Sam Marrella

You guys know and remember Sam Marrella. Even if you don’t, no biggie. It’s why I write these. Sam Marrella was the point guard on some really good Wilson teams in the early 1980s. I mean, of course Buddy Kemp, Doug Ertz and Rick Ferry were more important, but Sam played his role getting them the ball. (JK, Sam … last shot I’ll take)

Those three other guys all were frontcourt players so I didn’t really care about them. I didn’t have to guard them. And apparently, according to my dad, I never guarded Sam Marrella, either, though he was always my defensive assignment every time I played against him.

Played with and against Sam Marella most of junior high through our early 20s. Even though we didn’t go the same school, we got friendly because of our dads. Both were basketball officials. So anytime my dad found himself reffing with Mr. Marrella, chances were Sam was tagging along with his pops like I was with mine.

And I’ll use this sentence to tell you that Sam’s dad, Paul Marrella Sr., was a wonderful and upbeat man. Great demeanor. Great disposition. I can’t remember Mr. Marrella not smiling. He would have turned 85 recently. RIP.

So Sam and I played with each other and against each other in countless games — maybe one-on-one after our dad’s reffed a city league game, maybe at West Reading summer league, Winter rec leagues, high school, all-star games, you name it.

One night I was playing against Sam in a game at West Reading. I can’t remember if I was on Osan’s, the Hofbrau, Brewery Inn … I’m getting them all mixed up now. But I’m playing against Sam and my dad is watching because he had reffed an earlier game and was going to give me a ride home.

Sam’s team beat us. Sam’s teams always beat my teams. I think I know why now. After the game, I get into the car, with my dad at the steering wheel. Before he hits the gas, there’s a pause, a moment of silence if you will. And when I sense the delay, I look at my dad. He was already looking at me.

“Son,” my dad said with emphasis. “You gotta guard that guy, I mean, Jesus Christ, he does whatever the fuck he wants against you.” Pops looked away, stepped on the gas, and we didn’t talk the rest of the way home.

My personal record against Sam Marrella has got to be something like 2-27. But you know what? I’m actually giving myself two. I swear to god I can never remember beating Sam Marrella ever in my life at anything! Best I could do was play on a couple of all-star teams with him. That’s a humble brag, people.

After all these years, I love Sam. But I’m pretty sure he’s the reason I hate Wilson.


About Steinmetz

Matt Steinmetz is a veteran San Francisco Bay Area sports journalist. He covered the Golden State Warriors for the Bay Area News Group for more than a decade before becoming a television analyst with Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Steinmetz can be heard on "Steiny & Guru" on 95.7-FM The Game in San Francisco, from 12-3.
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1 Response to Sam Marrella

  1. Sam Marrella says:

    Wow, that was very humbling. I’ve always wished we could have played together more often. You forgot to mention my senior year at Albright when we played against each other in the Sponaugle Tournament. I spent the last 5 minutes of the game helplessly chasing you trying to force a turnover. With no shot clock to bail me out. I remember that didn’t end well for me or Albright. Thank you for the kind words. Especially about my dad. Man do I miss those days!


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