Portland Trail Blazers
Arvydas Sabonis, Lithuania
It’s unfortunate that we never got to see an in-prime Arvydas Sabonis in the NBA. You know, the 7-foot-3, 280-plus-pound behemoth who helped the Soviet Union win gold at the 1988 Olympics.
Sadly, injuries coupled with the political climate between the USSR and the United States didn’t allow Sabonis to make his way to the NBA until the 1995-96 season, when he was already 31 years old.
Even so, with his knees basically shot after playing so many minutes for both his clubs and countries, Sabonis still enjoyed a respectable career in the league. Over his first three seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, the seven-footer averaged 14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists, while making the All-Rookie Team in his first campaign.
During Sabonis’ time in Portland, the club made the playoffs every single year, and got as far as the Western Conference Finals twice.
We never got to see him at his peak, but the flashes Sabonis occasionally threw at us made it clear the greatness he once possessed.
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