Daydreaming About Sabonis In His Prime

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Arvydas Sabonis holds the distinction, per my main man Brent Barry, of being the only player to participate in the Schick Rookie Game (that’s what it was called back in the day) who “could actually use the product.”

Sabonis was a 31 during his rookie season in the NBA. From all the reports and stories we’ve ever heard, that was roughly two or three years past his prime, and yet he still enjoyed a seven-year run in the league. The Hall of Fame nod he received Monday was obviously more for what he did internationally, specifically in the Olympics and world championships, and with the national teams (Soviet and Lithuanian).

In our fantasy sports-crazed culture, can you imagine what young Sabonis might have done to the NBA in his prime?

There’s some grainy and some not-so-grainy footage floating around of Sabonis rocking a mullet and 80’s rock star mustache while destroying the competition. But there’s still no real way to know exactly how he might have fared in the NBA during the height of his powers.

We can daydream, though …


  1. Lee says:

    Sabonis would have won a championship or at least played multiple times in the finals. In a era where versatile big men are a must during the late 80’s and 90’s, Sabonis would have been there along with Ewing, Hakeem, Zo and even Shaq

  2. Patrick says:

    Sabonis was magic, he has an incredible hand. Back luck for us, we didn’t watch him when he was young, at the top of his art, before his serious injuries.

  3. Sing says:

    Sabonis was a great player, Sometime we wish we can turn back time and check what could’ve been. He is one of those few players that we want to see…ie, Len Bias. Petrovic….

  4. Sakshama says:

    In his prime if he entered the NBA he would be the best center at his generation. He was that good and more. To judge him for what we have seen when he came as a rookie at 31 is like expecting Garnet now to show his talents, well past his prime.

  5. pitrekk says:

    hey Guys,

    That’s true Sabonis might have changed the history of NBA. But you can say the same about Drazen Petrovic. The guy died in car accident after just two proper seasons in the league. And in the last one he averaged 22,3 points per game, shooting 51% from the field, 87% from the line and 45% from beyond the arc. And he was the most fierce competitor of all times! He had no respect for anyone (including MJ) and he was the hardest working guy in the league. If you havent seen ESPN movie “Once brothers” you just must see it!

    Another guy who might have changed the history of NBA was Len Bias, drafted by Celtics in 86. Just imagine how unbeatable the Cs would be with him on the roster.

  6. biebs says:

    great video. fitting music for sabonis. fyi it’s titled “redemption” and it was from the first rocky movie. i was actually waiting for him to punch someone in the face lol.

  7. Sea Pea says:

    Portland Drafted Sabonis in 1986 so they had the rights to him and they wouldn’t have traded him. Portland sticks with their Centers until they can’t walk. So he would have only played for Portland.

  8. chris says:

    Another reason to hate the USSR. They didn’t let us have Sabonis until he was 31. Even so, guy played very hard every night. Terrific team player and one heck of an outside shot. Glad he got inducted.

  9. Kingsfan says:

    Who says he was on Portland if he played in his prime? He definetly would have helped which ever team he was on, but to say he would have rewrote history is nuts. Who knows who he would have got put with. And to say he would tear up our centers today, that is so true because well outside of Howard, there aren’t really any!

  10. Sea Pea says:

    No Center has ever had the shooting range of Sabonis and never will. Long live Sabas.

    If Rasheed Wallace hadn’t thrown that towel in his face he probably would have played a couple more yrears……

  11. tommy says:

    drexler has said that the blazers would have won 4 or 5 championships. he was that good. he is definetely a hall of famer

  12. NBAfan says:

    imagine that he play against robinson like nothing, this man in his prime would kill any center today, and also he has a nice shot and like 7,2 or 7,3?? sick

  13. Magnum says:

    One of the elite international players I have known when I am still learning basketball.

  14. lobeste says:

    In his prime Sabonis dominated european basketball, i got surprised and glad when he was names haller of fame, we know in usa quite a lot of fans think european basketball like a undervalued stranger, but it´s only “other” kind of play, in which Sabonis was the best.

  15. Gary says:

    In his prime this guy would have helped Portland to a title at least two titles. He had moves and could shoot which really impressed me for his size and height.

  16. Sea Pea says:

    If Sabonis played in the NBA in his prime history would have been different. Portland would have beat Detroit in the 1990 NBA Championship. Jordan would have lost his first championship and had one less ring. The 1992 finals between Portland and the Bulls would have been way closer. I wouldn’t say Portland would have one that one because Jordan would not have been denied but it would have been a better series.

    So back to back titles for Portland in 1990 and 1991 if Sabonis was there and possibly a three-peat.