The 7' 3 Sabonis arrived late to the NBA, but remains an important footnote in the league's overall history. He was the first highly-sought European star for the NBA in the mid-1980s. Sabonis came from Lithuania, where his skills and size were seized upon by the former Soviet Union. He developed his incredible all-around game through exhaustive practices. By age 20, he was 7' 3 and 300 pounds. He could score inside, but also had deadly three-point range, developed for the international game. He could block shots by the bushel, rebound well and was a remarkable passer as well. It can be argued that no center in history, except Wilt Chamberlain, could match his overall skill set, size and strength. In the 1988 Olympics, he matched against USA's David Robinson and led the Soviets to a win and gold medal. But the Berlin Wall would have to come down before he could actually see the NBA. By then, Sabonis was a well-worn 30 years old battling long-term injuries. Sabonis played for Portland and helped lead a contender in the late 1990s and early part of this decade as a fraction of the great center he once had been. He still lives in Portland today but remains the most revered Soviet and Lithuanian player ever.



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Arvydas Sabonis

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