Arvydas Sabonis

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Basketball player
Arvydas Sabonis
Sabonis Lipofsky (1 of 1) .JPG
Player information
Full name Arvydas Romas Sabonis
birthday 19th December 1964 (age 55)
place of birth Kaunas , Lithuanian SSR , Soviet Union
size 220 cm
Weight 132 kg
position center
NBA draft 1986 , 24th pick, Portland Trail Blazers
Clubs as active
1981–1989 Žalgiris Kaunas 1989–1992 Forum Valladolid 1992–1995 Real Madrid 1995–2003 Portland Trail Blazers 2003–2004 Žalgiris KaunasSoviet UnionSoviet Union
United StatesUnited States
National team
1982-1989 1991-2001Soviet UnionSoviet Union
Lithuania 1989Lithuania

Arvydas Romas Sabonis ( listen ? / I ) (born December 19, 1964 in Kaunas , Lithuanian SSR ) is a former Lithuanian basketball player and entrepreneur. With a height of 2.20 meters and a weight of 132 kg, it was used in the center position. Audio file / audio sample

Sabonis is considered one of the best Lithuanian and European basketball players of all time. Together with Rimas Kurtinaitis and Šarūnas Marčiulionis , he belongs to the golden generation of Lithuanian basketball players, who from the early 1980s were able to score numerous successes , first for the Soviet Union and from 1991 for the again independent Lithuania . In 2008 Sabonis was named one of the 50 most important players in the history of the Europa League . In August 2011, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame .

Sabonis' son Domantas is also a professional basketball player and currently plays for the Indiana Pacers in the NBA .


Youth in the Soviet Union (1981–1989)

Sabonis celebrated his first successes at the age of 16 in 1981 as a junior European champion and in 1982 as a member of the Soviet world championship team . As a result, he won bronze at the European Championships in 1983 and 1989 with the Soviet team and the gold medal at the European Championships in Germany in 1985 (also voted best player of the tournament here), as well as silver at the 1986 World Championships . With the Lithuanian club Žalgiris Kaunas , where he was used from 1981, he was three times in a row Soviet champions from 1985.

International career

First attempts to switch to the NBA with the beginning of perestroika failed in 1985 because of the age limit (minimum 21 years) and in 1986 because of political disputes. Sabonis was in the Soviet Union and won with the Soviet team gold at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul . At the 1992 Olympic Games , he led the young Lithuanian team to the sensational win of the bronze medal, and in 1995 to win the European runner-up at the European Championships in Greece. In 1996 in Atlanta he was able to repeat the success of Barcelona , the Lithuanian team he led won again the bronze medal at the Olympic Games .

In 1989 he was finally able to move abroad, but did not go to the USA, but to Spain, where he played for three years for Forum Valladolid and from 1992 for Real Madrid . With Madrid he was Spanish champion twice (1993 and 1994) and once winner of the Euroleague (1995). In autumn 1995, at the age of 30, he moved to the United States to join the Portland Trail Blazers , who had drafted him in 1986 . Despite his age and repeated injury breaks, he was also able to prevail in the NBA and played over 520 games for the Trail Blazers in seven seasons (break in the 2001/2002 season). In 1996 he was appointed to the NBA All-Rookie First Team and in the election for NBA Rookie of the Year, behind Damon Stoudamire, he was runner-up.

End of career in Lithuania

In 2003 he returned to Lithuania and played one more season with his old club Žalgiris Kaunas , who also became Lithuanian champions thanks to his class and played an excellent Euroleague season. At the age of 39 he was elected MVP of the regular season of the Euroleague 2003/2004.


Sabonis is now an entrepreneur. He has his own basketball school in Kaunas , was responsible for the construction of a number of sports complexes and sports centers, runs hotels and shops and trades in real estate. Arvydas Sabonis has been President of the Lithuanian basketball federation Lietuvos krepšinio federacija (LKF) since 2011 . The former NBA pro was the only candidate in the election. He succeeded Vladas Garastas .

Style of play

In addition to his accuracy, his strengths lay in winning the ball on the defensive ( defensive rebounds and blocks ). During his time in Spain he was the best rebounder in the league three times. His point record has been 53 points since 1989 (with Žalgiris Kaunas against Dynamo Moscow ), in the NBA it was 33 points in 1997 (in the game against the Dallas Mavericks ). In 1994 and 1995 he was MVP of the Spanish League. At the age of 39, he was the player with the most rebounds (10.3 per game) and the most blocks (1.8 per game) in the Euroleague in 2003/2004. Also in the 2004/2005 season he was still in the squad of Žalgiris Kaunas, but was not used because of an injury.

Titles and awards

  • Olympic Games: 1988 gold with the Soviet Union , 1992 and 1996 bronze with Lithuania
  • World Championships : 1982 gold with the USSR, 1986 silver with the USSR
  • European Championships : 1985 gold with the USSR, 1995 silver with Lithuania, 1983 and 1989 bronze with the USSR
  • European Club Championship / Euroleague: 1995 champion with Real Madrid, 1985 and 1986 runner-up with Žalgiris Kaunas
  • Lithuanian / Soviet-Lithuanian club championships: 1985, 1986, 1987 and 2004 champions with Žalgiris Kaunas, 1983, 1984, 1988 and 1989 runners-up with Žalgiris Kaunas
  • Spanish Club Championship: 1993 and 1994 champions with Real Madrid
  • other championships: 1981 gold with the USSR at the Junior European Championship, 1985 gold with the USSR at the Universiade



Sabonis is married to the former Lithuanian beauty queen Ingrida Mikelionytė-Sabonienė. They have a daughter and three sons. One of them, Domantas Sabonis , is also a professional basketball player and player of the Lithuanian national basketball team , medal winner at EuroBasket 2015 , and has been active in the NBA since 2016 .


On his return to Kaunas, Sabonis acquired the majority of Žalgiris Kaunas and is president of the association. He has also been running a basketball school in Kaunas since 1992 and has several other businesses. Sabonis is held in high regard in Lithuania and it is not uncommon to hear rumors about his entry into politics.

Sabonis has been an honorary citizen of Kaunas since September 1997 .

Sabonis speaks five languages. In addition to Lithuanian, Sabonis also speaks Spanish, English, Russian and Polish.

On September 27, 2011, he suffered a heart attack while attending a basketball game, but his life was not in danger.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame :: Arvydas Sabonis. Retrieved April 20, 2020 (English).
  2. Lithuania: Saboni's new association president ( Memento from March 7, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  3. Intebasket: Player Profiles Arvydas Sabonis