Arvydas Sabonis entered the Hall of Fame 10 years ago


In the 1986 draft, the Portland Tail Blazers had two draft picks that year.

The 86 draft featured players like North Carolina center Brad Daugherty who went on to become number one overall with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Auburn forward Chuck Person fourth at the Indiana Pacers and shooting guard from Virginia Tech. Dell Curry, yes Dell Curry, 15th at the Utah Jazz.

The Blazers’ picks were 14, which were used by St. John’s forward Walter Berry, who would only appear in seven games for them, and a Lithuanian center named Arvydas Sabonis, at 24, the final pick of the first tour that year. .

What many fans may not know, Sabonis was originally drafted by the Atlanta Hawks the previous year, but the selection was canceled by the NBA because Sabonis was not eligible because he was not 21 at the time.

Sabonis would play for professional teams in Europe (mainly Lithuania and Spain) before joining the Blazers. While with these teams he won “Mr. Europa”, twice player of the year, two-time Spanish All-Star MVP, fifty best FIBA ​​players, Spanish League MVP at twice, MVP of the Spanish League finals twice, as well as other honors, awards and championships.

As the Blazers neared the end of his playing career, he was hampered by injuries but helped Portland advance to the Western Conference Finals in 1999 and 2000. Fans probably remember the blind passes from Sabonis to his teammates, and many fans might, unfortunately remember the “towel” incident on April 19, 2001, during a loss to the Lakers when Rasheed Wallace threw a towel in Sabonis’ face.

He would briefly retire from the NBA after the 2001-2002 season, but would return to play in 78 games for Portland the following season. Sabonis averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in 470 games for the Blazers themselves.

Ten years ago, in April 2011, Sabonis was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and inducted in August. Portland honored Sabonis to be inducted in front of thousands of fans gathered at a celebration for him at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

“I am very surprised,” he told the crowd. ” I do not know what to say. I appreciate you remembering me.

Arvydas Sabonis was a key part of the history of the Portland Trail Blazers. One can’t help but wonder if Portland would have won any of the championships the Chicago Bulls won in the ’90s if Sabonis had immediately played for the Blazers when he was drafted. Zalgiris Kaunas, for whom he played from 1981-1989, 1992, 2001-2002 retired his number 11. Maybe it’s time for the Blazers to do the same?


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