HoopsHype Arvydas Sabonis rumors

September 11, 2011 Updates
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Thousands were on hand Thursday afternoon to celebrate one of Oregon’s most beloved professional sports heroes. Sabonis played for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1995-2000 and again from 2001-2002 as a member of one of the winningest eras in the Pinwheels’ history. Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland was jam-packed full of fans, young and old, who came to pay their respects to Sabonis. The 7-3 center was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame last week, and at the rally the big Lithuanian made his first appearance in Oregon in over eight years. Dime

But Arvydas Sabonis still managed to convey his emotions about the warm reception that greeted him during a two-day visit to his old NBA city. “I am surprised,” Sabonis told me with a smile Thursday night after a 90-minute meeting with Trail Blazer employees and season ticket-holders at the Rose Room in the Rose Garden. “It has been seven, eight years since I was here. I love this city, these people. I feel comfortable here.” If I may help out the 7-3 Lithuanian lug, he was flattered, humbled and warmed that Portlanders would reach out to him in the way they did this week. Portland Tribune

Arvydas Sabonis was probably one of the best basketball players ever, and although Sabas was an old man when he played in Portland, he did enough with his time in a Blazer uniform to warrant the type of reception he received at Pioneer Square. The cheering fans seemed to come as a shock to the big Lithuanian who more than once thanked the city for the simple act of remembering who he was. But it should come as no surprise to Blazer fans that we’d remember a hands-down fan favorite, who anchored Portland during one of their best stretches as a franchise. Rip City Project

August 17, 2011 Updates

Sabonis suffered the big-man's curse. It is the irony of the game that often some of the bodies built for basketball are ultimately too delicate to handle how the sport pounds the feet, ankles, and knees. The bigger the body, the greater the chance that a tiny abnormality can halt a brilliant career and crumble it like a misplaced Jenga block. Bill Walton and Yao Ming are among those whose sparkling careers were derailed by debilitating injuries. But at least the NBA's audience witnessed them, appreciated the development of greatness even if the peak was abbreviated. With Sabonis, we are left only with a dabble of YouTube clips filmed long before YouTube was created. "I am no longer a locomotive, only a small trolley," Sabonis once told the Oregonian after he arrived in Portland. Before him now, I wondered if Sabonis' legend would be greater in the United States if he had never arrived at all. Grantland

If Sabonis arrived in Portland unscathed, he could have had a Michael Jordan-like impact upon the game, Whitsitt said. He hedged on the comparison by saying that the point is definitely arguable. But the statement was made because Whitsitt believes in its possibility. He is not alone. Walton first saw Sabonis as a 19-year-old in the European championships. "He probably had a quadruple-double at halftime, and his coach, Alexander Gomelsky, didn't even start him in the second half," Walton said in a telephone call. "We looked at each other, our jaws just dropping, and I said, 'You might as well just rewrite the rules of basketball after watching him play for just the first half,' the first time I ever saw him. When you think of the history of basketball, the rules were changed to make it harder for three guys: Russell, Wilt, and Kareem. All the other rules have been changed to make it easier. "He could do everything. He had the skills of Larry Bird and Pete Maravich. He had the athleticism of Kareem, and he could shoot the 3-point shot. He could pass and run the floor, dribble. We should have carried out a plan in the early 1980s to kidnap him and bring him back right then." Grantland

The legend of Sabonis grew after the game. The United States would play Croatia in the gold-medal game eight hours later, allowing for a time gap between the bronze game and the award ceremony. Sabonis and his teammates ventured back to the Olympic dormitory, where Sabonis challenged fellow Olympians in arm wrestling for shots. One by one, wrestlers and shot putters among them, Sabonis beat them. By the time of the award ceremony, three Lithuanians did not make it to the podium. Sabonis was one of them. "I knew how they used to roll," said Chris Mullin, part of the United States' Dream Team. "I think they came out with their tie-dye on. They did what the Deadheads do. They got loosened up. Made use of their free time." Sabonis was located a couple of days later in one of the women's Olympic dormitories. Grantland

In the following season, Wallace threw the towel at Sabonis during a timeout of a game against the Lakers. Sabonis had accidentally smacked Wallace's face earlier when he collided in the post with O'Neal. "Under normal circumstances, he'd have probably knocked his head into next year," Doucette said. "I don't think you want to challenge Arvydas. But he kept his cool because he knew that if he didn't, that team would come apart right there. He did a marvelous job of remaining composed." 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." Grantland

I asked the question that Sabonis has no doubt answered a hundred times. How would he have fared if he were never hurt or if he had entered the NBA at an earlier age? Would he have been the edge Portland needed in winning championships in 1990 and 1992 instead of just making finals appearances? "Look, what happened, it happened," he said. "I don't know. I know what's real in my life happened. What else? Who knows? If I came in '86 or '92, if I come we would be talking about other questions. But I came in '95, so we're talking about '95." Grantland

August 13, 2011 Updates
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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.” Portland Tribune

July 28, 2011 Updates

The Portland Trail Blazers will honor former Portland center and basketball legend Arvydas Sabonis on Thursday, August 18, following his 2011 induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Sabonis, who played for the Trail Blazers for seven seasons (1995-2001, 2002-03), is known globally as one of the greatest centers to ever play the game. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., Aug. 11-13, before returning to the Rose City. NBA.com

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