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  InterBasket > Player Profiles > Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuania  > talk Once considered the best big man in the basketball world, Arvydas Sabonis at age 30 decided finally to test himself against the best competition in the world: the NBA. "This is it for me," said Sabonis in Madrid in May, 1995. "There's nothing left for me to prove in Europe or in the basketball world. Only the NBA remains." A 7-3, 279-pound giant, Sabonis led the Soviet national team to a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea. He also helped Lithuania to a bronze medal at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and a second-place finish in the 1995 European Championships in Greece. In an 11-year professional career spent with club teams in the former Soviet Union and then in the Spanish League, Sabonis has led his squads to five league championships and has been named European Player of the Year four times by various publications. Born in Kaunas, Lithuania, Sabonis first began playing basketball at age 13. By the time he was 15 years old he was a member of the Soviet national junior team, which proved to be a mere stopover on his way to the national team. In 1983, at age 19, he helped the Soviet national team to a bronze medal at the European Championships. Two years later Sabonis led the USSR to gold medals at both the European Championships and the World University Games. In 1984 Sabonis joined Zalgiris Kaunas, a club team in the USSR League. He proceeded to lead Zalgiris to three consecutive league championships, earning recognition as European Player of the Year in 1984 and 1985 from the Italian newspaper Gazetto dello Sport. The following spring he suffered a devastating injury, rupturing his right Achilles tendon. Nevertheless, one month later the Portland Trail Blazers selected him in the first round (24th pick overall) of the 1986 NBA Draft. The political climate didn't allow Sabonis to play in the United States at the time, but he did come to Portland in order to rehabilitate his injury with Blazers trainers. Once healthy, he returned to the Soviet Union to play three more seasons with Soviet club teams and to lead the Soviets to a triumphant showing in the 1988 Olympics. En route to the gold medal, the USSR knocked off a United States team stocked with the likes of David Robinson, Mitch Richmond, and Danny Manning. With Glasnost and Perestroika taking root in 1989, Sabonis was finally able to leave the USSR in search of a higher level of competition. But instead of signing with the Trail Blazers, he chose the Spanish League, where he spent six seasons. He played three years each with Forum Valladolid (1989-92) and Real Madrid (1992-95). Sabonis led Real Madrid to league championships in 1993 and 1994 and to the European Club Championship in 1995. During the 1994-95 regular season with Real Madrid, Sabonis averaged 22.8 points, 13.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocked shots, and 2.4 assists per game. Joined Lithuanian Republic's Junior Team at age 15 when he stood 6'7".

Arvidas Sabonis Profile pg 2

Name: Arvydas Sabonis (AR-vid-us suh-BOH-nis)

Postion: Center
Nickname: Sabas (Lithuania), Big Red, Sabo, 'Arthritis'
Born: December 19, 1964
Origin: Kaunas, Lithuania
Status: Retired as player
Height: 7-3/2,21m
Weight: 292lbs/132,4kg
Schools: N/A
Drafted: 1985, Fourth Round, 77th pick by the Atlanta Hawks (pick was rescinded because Sabonis was too young to be eligible) 1986, First Round, 24th pick by the Portland Trailblazers
Languages: Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Spanish, English
Website: & InterBasket
Teams (Jersey): Russian National Team (15), Lithuanian National Team (11), Forum Valladolid, Zalgiris Kaunas (11), Real Madrid, Portland Trailblazers (11), IBN Dream Team (First Team)
IBN Facts: A fourth round choice in 1985, Sabonis was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks, however the league voided the choice because Arvydas had not reached his 21st birthday. IBN Notes: What is there to say about Sabas? HE is the reason why InterBasket exists in the first place. I remember seeing Big Red play midway through his rookie season, at which point he was leading the league in three-point percentage, I recall watching some highlights of Sabonis on ESPN; shooting jumpers, slick passing and flat-footed rebounds. From there I was hooked and started a webapge on my college server, then moving it to, and then to where the fansite lives now - It's always hard to say how Sabonis would have performed had he come to the NBA earlier in the career and I've fought that losing battle in many a forum, however, I always pointed Sabas' 1997-98 season where at age 33 and with heavily-operated and medicated legs, he averaged 16 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.1 blocks in only 32 minutes a game. If you are still a doubter of Sabonis' skills and talent and how he would have performed had he not blown out his achilles tendons and body weighed down by his love of beer, I invite you to read the bolded sentence again then think of an athletic, 80lbs lighter, 23 year old Sabonis (with a mustache and a mullet) in the NBA and tell me he wouldn't have been successful.  If you come to the same conclusion, then we'll just have to agree to disagree.

Ibn Facts: Back in 1991, FIBA named Arvydas Sabonis as one of FIBA's 50 Greatest Players with the likes of other international basketball legends Drazen Petrovic, Dino Meneghin, Juan Antonio Corbalan, Nikos Galis, Oscar Schmidt, Teo Cruz, Sergei Belov, Modestas Paulauskas, Toni Kukoc, Alexander Volkov, and Vlade Divac among others... the list was determined by votes from a group of international experts and coaches.
Arvydas Sabonis Links  From our forum: What Does Your Country's Dream Team Look Like?, Have You Seen This Pic Before? Thread  Sabonis to play again for Zalgiris?Sabonis ends his professional career, Lithuania Basketball Forum  Article(s) and Resources:  A Shadow Of His Former Self  Legend at Large  Catch This! (SI)  Courting a Big Red (SI, 1988)  A Lithuanian Basketball Star (Atlantic Monthly, 1986), Player Content Page (, A New Generation of Stars: History of Eurobasket (,,