Arvydas Sabonis

Arvydas Sabonis’ career is long and filled with acheivements and precedence. Here I will attempt to log as much of his accomplishments, statistics, accolades, and other things related to his career.

Within this section, you will find an overview of his career thus far in his biography. To get a much more in-depth look at his storied career, i’ve broken down his years of play into three categories, his European years, his 7 years in the NBA with the Portland Trailblazers, and thhe Olympics.

Finally, there are his stats, his awards throughout his years and what others have to say about him.

I may be a little biased, being that Sabonis is my favorite player. I have seen Sabonis footage when he was younger. He was almost a complete contrast to the player he is today (though I still love watching him play now). He was athletic and fast, ran the lanes, dribbled up the court during fast breaks, blocked shots and was a hiigh-flying dunker. Those that have seen highlights of the 1988 Olympics caught a glimpse of what Sabonis could do. Sadly though, he busted up his achilles and knees and is relagated to the player he is today (again, a player I st

till love to watch) lumbering up and down the court, barely leaving the ground for rebounds and old-school hook shots. Though he has remained a a great shooter and deft passer, the athleticism is gone.

I would have to put him in the top ten centers of all time. He being 6 or 7, after the likes of Shaq, Hakeem, Wilt, Russell, Kareem (in no particular order), but before Ewing, D.Rob, and Moses. Its too bad that fans only see the present Sabonis and from that dismiss him as a untalented 7-foot lug. My friend (who LOVES Shaq, ‘J-dub’, Kobe and all the new-school) bet me that Sabonis would never make the Hall-of-Fame – I laughed, took the bet, and I await my money.

Arvydas Saabonis is a legendary Lithuanian basketball player. In my opinion, (and many others) the best passing center in the NBA, the best 3-point shooting center in the NBA (in the 96-97 NBA season, Sabonis hit three times more threes than any other center), and is a throwback player with an old-school sweeping hook shot. “Sabas” is 7-3, 292 lbs, and plays for the Portland Trailblazers. Although not as quick and mobile as he was when he was younger, Sabonis now uses his overwealming si

ize and natural basketball knowledge to get things done

“That guy without his injuries, would have been better than David Robinson. Believe me, he was that good. In 1985, he was a beast. He ran the floor like Ralph Sampson, could shoot the three, dunk. He would have been a NBA all-star ten years in a row. It’s true I tell you.” -Dino Radja, former Boston Celtic

Prior to the NBA, “Sabas” led the Soviet National Team to a gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul against a United States team that featured future all-stars such as David Robinson, Mitch Richmond, and Danny Manning. Then in 1992, the year of the “Dream Team”, Sabonis helped the Lithuanian team to a bronze medal in Barcelona. In 1985, at age nineteen he headed the Soviets to gold medals at the European Championships and the World University Games. During his 11-year career in the Soviet Union and Spanish leagues, he has led his teams to 5 league championships, including 3 consecutive in the USSR league. He has been named European Player of the Year five times by a myriad of publications. Drafted in 1985 by the Atlanta Hawks, Sabonis was too young and declared uneligible. Then in 1986, the Po

ortland Trailblazers made him their 1st round pick (24th pick). Due to political restraints Arvydas was not able to come to the United States until 1989, but at that time thought he was not ready (by this time he had had multiple injuries and surgeries to his achilles tendons, knees, and ankles). So he spent the next 6 years in the Spanish league collecting more championships, awards, titles, and praise. Finally in 1996, after conquering almost every continent and with urging from his wife Ingrida, Arvydas Sabonis decided he would attempt to leave his mark on the NBA.

“He can do what most big men can’t. He can shoot outside, he can score inside, and he can make passes, I’m not talking passes when you get double teamed, that’s the easy pass. I’m talking about guys cutting in traffic, making a nice bounce pass for the score. He has a real good feel for the game, the whole game, and you can’t teach that.” – Magic Johnson, assessing Sabonis’ game

Coming to the NBA, Sabonis was praised by teammates, recognized by coaches, and was a fan favorite in his inaugural season. “At the beginning of the season, if you weren’t paying attention, he’d hit yo

ou in the head or something with it. You’ve got to be ready.” said Harvey Grant, first-year teammate. During his first season, he was selected to play in the mid-season rookie all-star game. Playing only four minutes, Arvydas managed 8 points and 4 rebounds, before heading to the bench, opting to rest his legs. Throughout his rookie season, Sabonis averaged 14.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.1 bpg, shot .545 from the field (7th best in the NBA) and .375 from behind the arc in only 22.8 minutes a game, all the while coming off the bench. In addition, the second half of the 1995-96 season was even stronger. He was named rookie of the month for April and after averaging 20.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 bpg, and 2.0 apg was named NBA Player of the Week on March 31. And when he was placed in the starting lineup for the last 21 games of the season, Portland went 18-3. With these impressive statistics and awards, Sabas made the all-rookie team and was runner-up to both the Rookie of the Year and Sixth Man awards. Sabonis also was the only rookie to finish in the top ten in all rookie categories.

Sabonis’ strong second half continued into the playoffs. Portland was a major underdog against the midwest champion Utah Jazz. Behind Sabas’ 23.6 ppg and 10.2 rpg,Portland pushed the Jazz to five games and to the brink of elimination, before losing. The 1996-97 season was not as successful as his rookie season. Sharing time in the pivot with Chris Dudley, Arvydas averaged 13.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.22 bpg, and 0.91 spg, all this in a little over half a game (25.5 minutes a game). Although posting lower numbers than the previous season, Sabonis managed career highs in points (33 vs. Dallas) and rebounds (17 vs. Minnesota). Sabas’ second playoff appearance, like the 1996-97 season paled in comparison to his first year, averaging only 11.3 ppg and 6.5 rpg against the overpowering Shaquille O’Neal.

The 1997-98 season proved to be Sabonis’ best, Sabas played significantly more under Mike Dunleavy and it showed in his statistics. That year he averaged 16ppg, 10 rpg (good for 10th overall in the NBA), 3.0 apg (leading all NBA centers), 1.1 bpg, and 1.0 spg. At the all-star break, Portland was 5th overall in the Western conference and Sabonis was getting all-star consideration. All-star consideration in a conference that boasted Hakeem Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Shaquille O’Neal locked onto the all-star roster shows the appreciation by the coaches for his skills. At the end of the season, Sabonis received some votes for the all-NBA teams for the first time.

His third playoff experience found him matched up against the powerful Shaq and again he made Sabonis look every one of his 34 years. Flustering Sabas pretty much to making him a non-factor (and flustering me to no end).

Margarita (Rita) was born on 21 December 1971 and started skating at the early age of 6.A promising athlete, she progressed quickly and partnered Povilas at the age of 16 having previously danced with Oleg Granionov.
Povilas, on the other hand had very little experience of ice dancing when he teamed up with the shy, yet attractive , Rita the age of 18. He was born in Siauliai, Lithuania on 23 July 1970 and started skating at the age of 4 because of his mother’s involvement in the sport. Povilas’ mother is currently the Lithuanian national coach. He took to single skating, becoming National Champion six times before making the switch to dance when he joined the Tatiana Tarasova school and later
partnered Rita. Many coaches were amazed with his switch and now claim that Povilas was born to be an ice dancer with a rare quality that is hard to find in both partners. Krisztina Regoczy, world ice dance champion in 1980, has gone as far as saying that Povilas is the best male dancer to appear on the scene since Christopher Dean.
Povilas takes up the story of how he and Rita met: ” It was in the days of the old Soviet Union and all boys were required to go to the Soviet Army. I did not want to go so far from my home, but i had no choice but to go to Moscow. So I went and was given the choice of either being in the army or taking up skating full time because i could skate. I decided to skate and was partnered with Rita.
Again, i did not want to dance but i had no choice. I had decided that after the term of national service was over i would return back to Lithuania to study economics.”
” For Rita i was very green, not at all worth her former partners. At the beginning there were tears and conflicts. It is only now that I realize how patient and forgiving Rita was.”
” Right up till the end of my two years in Moscow, Rita thought i was to return home and that she would have to find a new partner. But because Lithuania was the first country to obtain independence from the Soviet block, it was a dream
for me to represent my home country. It was difficult at the beginning because there was much friction between Russia and Lithuania and with Rita being Russian it caused problems, but now we are happy.”
And here’s how Rita remembers her first meeting with Povilas: ” After our first trainee i understood that i would not dance with Povilas. I was used to the fact that sportsmen take up training much earlier and they know what is choreography, some of them even attend practical trainings of ballet on ice. After having danced in singles Povilas was green in ice dancing and i didn’t like him, but as soon as i heard his first phrase: “Let the lady decide if i’m suited for her.”- and I changed my opinion when coaches were choosing me a partner.”
Now they skate for the “Piruetas” club in Kaunas, Lithuania, dividing their time between Moscow, Lithuania and England to train. Their coach and stylist for the past nine years has been Elena Maslennikova, who has trained not only in ice dance, but was also a ballroom dance expert. Their present coach is Liudmila Tchaikovskaja.
Such is the talent of this formidable partnership that during the 1995 Spring and Summer , Rita and Povilas were honored to be invited to take part in the Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean World Tour in Britain. Not only did they get the opportunity to work alongside these skating legends, but were able to obtain artistic inspiration from Cristopher Dean who provided them with music and ideas for their Paso Doble original dance in season 95/96.
In the Spring of 1996 Rita and Povilas spent time in England with Torwill and Dean, who choreographed their new numbers for the 96/97 season.

” It’s a real pleasure working with Rita and Povilas,”- explains Jayne Torwill.
“We remembered that they learnt very quickly when they did our shows in 1995, so it was exciting for us to work with a couple who were not afraid of trying new ideas. They have never said: ” Oh we can’t do that’ or “That’s not possible’ ,
they just go out and do it, and that’s what has impressed us.”
Another notable member of their coaching committee is Betty Callaway, who has advised and coached them solidly – particularly in the compulsorary dances – since they started training sessions in England in 1995. Although they are modest about their skating talent, Betty Callaway feels sure that Rita and Povilas will feature prominently on the world scene and that it will only be a matter of time before they both will be realizing their goals.

” They’re not just good skaters but are very nice people. That’s very important. They are very hard workers and have determined quest one day to do the best. I’m sure that they will. I’m actually quite excited.” – says Callaway.
The duo train five hours a day, often spending a few hours off ice either in the gym or taking ballet classes. Rita and Povilas visit various dance studios during their trips to England. They have taken lessons with top professionals from the ice world, including the acclaimed Argentinean Tango experts – Mina and Roberto Reius, from the Broadway hit “Forever Tango”. This helped them when they started work on the Tango original dance with Torvill and Dean.
Perfoming well means total commitment. That’s why when you see them skate they are skating because of their total passion for the sport and for the thousands who pay to attend the competitions.
Among the Lithuanian’s fans there are none other than the 1995 European Champions from Finland Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko. “It’s always hard when a country you represent has no traditions in ice dancing,” – says Susanna.” We had
to wait 10 years before winning the Europeans so all i can say is for them to keep pushing and pushing, show their fire and one day it will all come together.
They certainly have the capability, but it’s always a question of acceptance.”
In year 1999 Margarita and Povilas were invited to film themselves in a Hollywood Studio movie – a story on ice, together with such ice stars as Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko, Alexander Abt and Brian Boytana.
So, good luck to these much promising athletes in their difficult way towards acknowledgement!

This text is based on SUNDEEP PANDYA’S article for an “Ice Age Magazine” (1996).

Played school basketball at Solanco High School, Quarryville, Pa..played college basketball at University of Maryland (1994-98).back to Lithuania for the 1998-99 season, signed by Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius.moved to Slovenia for the 1999-00 season, signed by BC Olimpija Ljubljana.moved to Spain for the 2000-01 season, signed by F.C. Barcelona.played there till the 2002-03 championship.moved to Israel for the 2003-04 season, signed by Maccabi Tel Aviv.he’s still playing there.

Won the 2000-01 and 2002-03 Spanish National Championship with F C Barcelona.won the 2003-04 and 2004-05 Israeli National Championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv.won the 2000 Slovenian National Cup with BC Olimpija Ljubljana.won the 2001 and 2003 Spanish National Cup (King’s Cup) with F C Barcelona.won the 2004 and 2005 Israeli National Cup with Maccabi Tel Aviv.won the 2003 Euroleague with FC Barcelona.won the 2004 and 2005 Euroleague with Maccabi Tel Aviv.played the 1999 Lithuanian All Star Game.played the 2000 Slovenian All Star Game.played the 2001 Spanish All Star Game.named the 2002-03 Spanish League Finals MVP.named the 2005 Euroleague Final MVP.named to the 2003-04 and 2004-05 All-Euroleague 1st Team.led the 1998-99 Lithuanian League in assists (5.4 apg.).led the 1999-00 Euroleague in assists (4.9 apg.).led the 2003-04 Euroleague in free throws shooting percentage (92,5%).led the 2003-04 Israeli League RS in three points shooting percentage (57,0%).named the 2002 Lithuanian Player of the Year.has been member of the Lithuanian Cadets National Team.played at the 1993 European Cadets Championship.has been member of the Lithuanian Junior National Team.won the gold medal at the 1994 European Junior Championship.has been member of the Lithuanian Under-22 National Team.won the gold medal at the 1996 European Under-22 Championship.member of the Lithuanian National Team.played at the 1997, 1999 and 2001 European Championship.won the gold medal at the 2003 European Championship.named the 2003 European Championship MVP.won the bronze medal at the 1998 Goodwill Games.played at the 1998 World Championship.won the bronze medal at the 2000 Olympic Games.played at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Previous game-by-game Euroleague sta

Leave a Comment