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.
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.
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.