After posting regarding my affinity for the old Blazers team of Sheed and Sabonis, I thought a history lesson for all the youngin's on here should be in order. Many casual NBA fans have never heard of Sabonis, even people my age who watched would rarely have seen this international marvel who played his twilight years in Portland, long past his prime and my bedtime.
I found a really good read from the Grantland archive that is worth the read. Below is an excerpt about Sabonis' 1992 Olympic exploits that deserve it's own space in the Hall of Fame.
Four years later in Barcelona, the stakes had completely changed. In 1988, Sabonis was playing for the Soviet Union. In 1992, he was playing for his native Lithuania. As such, he regards those Olympics as his greatest basketball triumph, mostly because they included a game in which Sabonis and his Lithuanian teammates defeated the Unified Team, a squad consisting of members of the fallen Soviet Union.
Sarunas Marciulionis scrambled to put the team together, largely helped by Donnie Nelson, then an assistant for Golden State and now an executive with the Dallas Mavericks. Nelson located funding for the team after members of the Grateful Dead read an article about its need in the San Francisco Chronicle. The band's Rex Foundation supported the team. The Lithuanian members wore tie-dyed warm-ups. Sabonis scored 26 points and pulled down 16 rebounds in the bronze-medal game.
"He would have died on the court, literally," Nelson said. "I've never seen a player play under that type of pressure."
The legend of Sabonis grew after the game. The United States would play Croatia in the gold-medal game eight hours later, allowing for a time gap between the bronze game and the award ceremony. Sabonis and his teammates ventured back to the Olympic dormitory, where Sabonis challenged fellow Olympians in arm wrestling for shots. One by one, wrestlers and shot putters among them, Sabonis beat them. By the time of the award ceremony, three Lithuanians did not make it to the podium. Sabonis was one of them. "I knew how they used to roll," said Chris Mullin, part of the United States' Dream Team. "I think they came out with their tie-dye on. They did what the Deadheads do. They got loosened up. Made use of their free time."
Sabonis was located a couple of days later in one of the women's Olympic dormitories.