Our last YouTube clip was Bill Walton and we mentioned how briefly he was great.
It was sad that his career was destroyed by injuries but he at least got there during his prime.
That’s not the case with Arvydas Sabonis.
He was born in Lithuania, which was then controlled by the Soviet Union, and his freedom was limited everywhere except perhaps on the basketball court, where he quickly showed that he was one of the most imaginative players in the entire world. Watch his passes and you’ll see what we mean. He’s like a 7-3 Larry Bird. His court vision is incredible.
The Soviet’s mishandling of his career cost him dearly and after the USSR fell, he didn’t feel up to competing in the NBA until 1995, when he was 31.
He had amazing skills still, but he wasn't the player he was in his early 20’s. Even so, he was an outstanding NBA player.
Sabonis is 12 years younger than Bill Walton, so they wouldn’t have played against each other in their prime.
Nonetheless, it’s tantalizing to wonder, had they both been fully healthy, what that would have been like.
Even more intriguingly, Walton left Portland partly because he was unhappy about how his injuries were being managed. What if he had stayed in Portland, and what if Sabonis could have joined him? It would have been stunning to see them on the same team. They would have been unstoppable.