Arvydas Sabonis ‘Satisfied’ With His Career

by August 11, 2011

Arvydas Sabonis joined the Portland Trailblazers when his best basketball days were already well behind him, but on the eve of his Hall of Fame induction, he has few regrets. From the Portland Tribune: “Even with the Achilles’ tendon, knee and ankle injuries that limited his mobility and shortened his career, Sabonis’ stamp on the international game was indelible. His induction this weekend into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame at Springfield, Mass., is proof. On his resume: Eight times the European player of the year, two-time Spanish League most valuable player, gold medalist with the Soviet Union at the 1982 world championships and the 1988 Olympic Games, for seven seasons one of the NBA’s most imposing big men while with Portland. Sabonis, who played with the Blazers from 1995-2001 and again in 2002-03, will be honored next Thursday in Portland, making his first visit to the City of Roses since his final season here. It will be a time to reflect on some very good times that might have been even better. ‘I’m satisfied with my career,’ says Sabonis, 46, who lives in Lithuania, runs a youth basketball school and is part owner of the Zalgiris club, for whom he began his pro career in 1981. ‘Maybe one regret – that nobody stopped me when I first got injured and explained to me to watch for the symptoms.’ Sabonis is speaking about the Achilles’ injury that robbed him of his speed and quickness, and eventually shortened his career. Bucky Buckwalter was the Blazers’ director of player personnel and the man most responsible for selecting Sabonis with the 24th and final pick of the first round in the 1986 NBA draft. ‘I have a half-hour tape, a composition of highlights of Arvydas playing from the ages of 18 to 20,’ says Buckwalter, retired and still living in Portland. ‘He was doing some amazing things. Passing from the high post. Elevating over people. He was a very gifted big man, more skilled than maybe any big man other than (Bill) Walton in passing. In Europe, he was playing against not terribly competitive opposition. Had he been able to play against better competition, he’d have developed more and become one of the all-time greats. As it was, he still was pretty damn good.'”