Arvydas Sabonis

In the summer of 1986, the Portland Trail Blazers drafted a relatively unknown center named Arvydas Sabonis from Kaunas, Lithuania. Sabonis was tall and strong with soft hands, terrific timing, and great vision. He was the best player outside of the United States at that time, a two-time European Player of the Year and soon-to-be Olympic gold medalist who dominated the European scene for 15 seasons. Sabonis arrived in Portland almost a decade later, bruised and a little beat up, but ready to showcase his talents for the rest of the non-European world to see. One of the greatest playmakers from the center position in basketball, the 7'3" Sabonis laced perfect passes to cutters on the perimeter and found open teammates in the interior. He was an equally effective scorer, shooting a soft hook shot or finishing strong going to the basket. Sabonis was one of the greatest big men in European history, winning a gold medal at the 1988 Olympic Games with the Soviet Union and leading Lithuania to the bronze in 1992 and 1996.