Tag: Arvydas Sabonis

Sabonis Hall of Fame

Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis stable after heart attack

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Freshly minted basketball Hall of Fame inductee Arvydas Sabonis suffered a heart attack but is now in stable condition, according to multiple reports out of his native Lithuania.

Trail Blazers blog Blazers Edge was on top of the reports.

Lithuanian news site Delfi.lt reports that former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis suffered a heart attack while playing basketball Tuesday night. Spanish website Cadenaser.com reported soon after that Sabonis did suffer a heart attack but quoted Arturo Ortega, a representative for Sabonis, who said the center was “out of danger.”

Sabonis was inducted into the Hall of Fame last August, which was followed by a warm welcome for the legend in Portland. He lives in his native Lithuania where he helps run a professional basketball team, the one Ty Lawson will play for during the lockout.

We’re happy to hear he is well and wish him a speedy recovery.

Portland fans outpouring humbles Arvydas Sabonis

Sabonis Hall of Fame
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Arvydas Sabonis is a quiet man, not someone given to grand shows of emotion.

But the newly minted Hall of Famer remains one of the most beloved of Trail Blazers, and it showed when more than 2,500 showed up to cheer Sabonis at a rally in the city.

All of that seemed to catch Sabonis by surprise, reports Jason Quick from the Oregonian.

“I feel like I’ve been here the whole time,” said Sabonis, who lives in Kaunas, Lithuania. Always a humble and private person, Sabonis appeared embarrassed by the attention and adulation.

“I say thank you for remembering me,” Sabonis told the crowd. “I’m surprised.”

Sabonis, at 7’3” and around 300 pounds, was one of the few people who could really battle Shaquille O’Neal in the paint during Shaq’s prime. That was despite Sabonis being north of 30 and having had Achilles and foot issues. But here is the stat I think best tells you how rounded his game was — Sabonis was a career 32.8 percent from three-point range. In the 96-97 season he took almost two threes a game on average and hit 37 percent of them. The man is one of the best big men ever to play, we just missed his prime on this side of the ocean.

It’s good to see that the people of Portland have not forgotten him. And it’s good that he knows that now.

The long, strange trip of Arvydas Sabonis

Arvydas Sabonis, Bill Walton
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From our “if you’re going to read one thing today” file…

There is a fascinating profile of newly-minted Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis over at Grantland. Another fine bit of work by Jonathan Abrams.

Sabonis is more of a mythical player here in the United States — we’ve heard of the legend of his greatness, but what we saw was just a shell of that. The Sabonis we saw had two major Achilles issues, a host of other ankle and foot problems, and was more than 30 years old. How bad were things?

(Former Portland GM Bob) Whitsitt asked Portland’s team physician, Dr. Robert Cook, to take a look at Sabonis’ X-rays before he arrived. Cook asked Whitsitt if he was sure his new player could play. “He said that Arvydas could qualify for a handicapped parking spot based on the X-ray alone,” Whitsitt said.

There are stories of Sabonis in Europe (George Karl raves about him). There are great stories of how Sabonis played through pain and battled with Shaquille O’Neal (when Shaq was in his prime).

Then there was the time Rasheed Wallace threw a towel in Sabonis’ face. Sabonis kept his cool, because if he had not it would have divided the team. But Bill Walton had the best quote about it.

Walton, who was broadcasting the game nationally, still feels remorse over the incident. “It was one of the lowest moments of my life,” he said. “If I was any kind of a man, I would have got up from that broadcast table and walked across the court and punched Rasheed Wallace in the nose. But I let Sabonis and the game of basketball and the human race down that day.”

Just go read the whole story, which comes complete with video highlights of Sabonis. You will not totally understand him afterwards, but you’ll have a much better picture.

Video: See just how good Arvydas Sabonis really was

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For a lot of NBA fans, Arvydas Sabonis was that big Blazers center back in the late 80s-early ’90s, a big body with a nice, well-rounded game.

But by the time he got here he was already past his peak, we didn’t see him back before an Achilles injury changed his career. Even after that he was the European Player of the Year eight times before he came to the NBA. We saw the tail end of an illustrious career here, and even then he was pretty good.

But in 1986, David Robinson and Team USA got a good look at the young Sabonis at the World Championships. Watch the video below and see him give Robinson all he can handle in that game, watch him control the paint.

Realize why today he is a deserving inductee in the Hall of Fame. (It’s not the best video quality, but it was 1986 after all.)

Your 2011 Basketball Hall of Fame inductees


It’s a good class.

As usual, there was one surprise on the list — we told you before of reports that Maurice Cheeks had gotten in, but that turned out to be false. The former Sixer player and coach did not make the cut this year.

Who did get in?

• Artis Gilmore: He was elected via the ABA committee, where he played five seasons with Kentucky before a 12-year NBA career with the Spurs and Bulls. He won an ABA title with Kentucky and was the playoff MVP that year. He was the 1972 ABA MVP, a five-time ABA All-Star and a six-time NBA All-Star after that. He ha a great touch, shooting 59.9 percent for his career and had a graceful game. He should have been in a long, long time ago, frankly. But this is the Hall. They back door in no brainers.

• Dennis Rodman: One of the greatest rebounders ever to play the game, he was also an elite defender. Which is why he has five rings — he was at the heart of the Piston’s “Bad Boys” identity, he did the dirty work that balanced out Michael Jordan’s scoring. He remains a unique personality, but his game was more than deserving of this honor.

• Tex Winter: He’s best known to NBA fans as the lead assistant to Phil Jackson, the man who literally wrote the book on the triangle offense. An offense run at all levels of the game. But before that he was a top college coach (he took Kansas State to the Final Four twice and was national coach of the year).

• Chris Mullin: Mullin has a complete basketball resume: In college he was given the Wooden Award (the Heisman of college hoops), he went on to be a five-time NBA All-Star and he has two Olympic gold medals. He was on the original Dream Team. He then went on to be in the Warriors front office as GM. That’s a guy who belongs in the Hall.

• Arvydas Sabonis: Elected to the hall via International committee. NBA fans remember his as a big body with the Trail Blazers, but that was the very end of a long career. He was at that point a shell of the player that dominated Europe previously, one of the greatest centers ever to play (and maybe the best passing center ever).

• Reece “Goose” Tatum: One of the legendary Harlem Globetrotters from the years when they were still a huge deal.

• Tom Sanders: He played 13 years with the Boston Celtics and won 8 titles in that time. But his work after he left the game — he helped set up the NBA’s rookie program — is why he is in the Hall now.

• Teresa Edwards: A former standout at Georgia, she went on to be a five-time Olympian with four gold medals.

• Tara VanDerveer: The Stanford’s women’s coach has won more than 800 games, led teams to eight final fours, plus led the USA to Olympic Gold in 1996.

• Herb McGee: He is the coach at Div. II Philadelphia University, where he has won more than 900 games and a national title.

The only real disappointment we already knew about — Reggie Miller did not even make it to the final ballot. Which is the kind of traditional screw up we have sadly come to expect from the hall. We can debate the merits of Miller in the Hall of Fame, but for him not to make the finalists lists was just a terrible oversight.