|Date of birth||December 19, 1964|
|Place of birth||Kaunas, Lithuania|
|Listed hieght||7 ft 3 in|
|Listed wieght||279 lbs|
|NBA Draft||1986; Round: 1 / Pick: 24th|
|Selected by the Portland Trail Blazers|
|1995-2003||Portland Trail Blazers|
|Career Highlights and Awards|
| 1995-96 NBA All-Rookie First team|
|Arvydas Sabonis at NBA.com|
Arvydas Romas Sabonis (born December 19, 1964) is a retired Lithuanian professional basketball player and Basketball Hall of Famer. Sabonis was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame class of 2011.
Sabonis's earliest international success was a bronze for the Soviet Union at the European Championship of 1983, followed by a gold in 1985 at both the European Championship and the World University Games. In 1981, Sabonis joined Žalgiris Kaunas and led them to three consecutive Soviet league titles.
In the 1985 NBA Draft he was a fourth round draft pick of the Atlanta Hawks. The pick was later nullified because of his age; he was under 21. In the 1986 NBA Draft he was the top pick of the Portland Trail Blazers (24th overall). He was not permitted to play in the NBA by Soviet authorities, however. Although the political climate in the Soviet Union did not allow Sabonis to play in the NBA, he did travel to the U.S. to rehabilitate his ankle injuries with the Blazers' training staff. In between rehab stints, "Sabas" would find himself out on the court playing pickup games with Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter and others.
In 1989 he was allowed to leave the Soviet Union but instead of playing in the NBA, he played in Europe. He first played for Forum Valladolid (1989-92), and Real Madrid (1992-95). He led Real Madrid to league championships in 1993 and 1994 and to the European Champions Cup title in 1995. He was named European Player of the Year four times while playing in Europe.
In 1995, he finally joined the NBA with the Trail Blazers, and won Rookie of the Month and Player of the Week awards in 1996. He was later runner-up for both the Rookie of the Year and NBA Sixth Man awards. He remained with Portland for seven years, playing in 470 regular season and 51 playoff matches with them and often leading the team in rebounds. He was a very effective player in the NBA, and was named NBA European Player of the Year twice while in Portland, but his career there had considerable "what-might-have-been" overtones. Had he joined the Blazers when they were at their peak in the early 1990s, many Portland fans feel it would have been a dynasty. During his years in Europe, he suffered a series of knee and Achilles' tendon injuries that robbed him of most of his mobility.
In 2003, Sabonis returned to Lithuania and bought a major stake in his old club Žalgiris. He also played for Žalgiris in the 2003-04 season, winning the MVP award in both the regular-season and Top 16 phases of the Euroleague and being named to the All-Euroleague team. He retired as a player after the 2004-05 season.
His wife, Ingrida Mikelionytė Sabonienė, was the winner of the first Lithuanian beauty pageant, "The Beauty of Vilnius '88". They have four children. Sabonis speaks five languages: Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, Spanish, and English.
Ex-players and current players alike contend that Sabonis, little known in the U.S., would have been recognized as one of the top centers ever to play the game of basketball had he come to America in his prime. Scottie Pippen was quoted as saying that Arvydas was "the best European basketball player to ever play the game". Ex-Spur Sean Elliott routinely claimed that Arvydas "should be in the conversation as one of the greatest centers ever". Hall of Famer Bill Walton describes "Sabas" as "the greatest passing center of all time". And Dino Radja, a former Boston Celtics player, said that Sabonis would have been an all-star "ten times over" had he played his healthy years in the States.
Brian Meehan, a columnist for The Oregonian, followed Sabonis' career over the course of decades. Recalling the 1988 Olympics, when Sabonis' Soviet team beat an amateur United States team with the likes of future NBA stars David Robinson and Mitch Richmond. Meehan notes one play when a healthy Sabonis reacted to a teammate's missed shot: Sabonis slashed towards the rim, jumped over Robinson, and slammed the ball home. Meehan is of the opinion that it was the play of Arvydas in the 1988 Olympics that influenced Team USA to use professional players in the Olympics, hence the "Dream Teams" of 1992 and 1996. Meehan ranks Sabonis as the 6th best all-time center behind, in no particular order, Hakeem Olajuwon, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Shaquille O'Neal, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
- 1981-1989: Žalgiris Kaunas (Lithuania, former USSR)
- 1989-1992: Forum Valladolid (Spain)
- 1992-1995: Real Madrid (Spain)
- 1995-2001: Portland Trail Blazers (NBA)
- 2001-2002: Žalgiris Kaunas (Lietuvos Krepšinio Lyga), but played no matches
- 2002-2003: Portland Trail Blazers
- 2003-2005: Žalgiris Kaunas