For as famous and popular as ex-Portland Trail Blazers big Arvydas Sabonis was during his seven seasons in the Rose City, the family name never donned the back of an NBA All-Star jersey. That is until last night when his son, Domantas Sabonis, suited up for team LeBron in the 2020 All-Star game.
Sabonis became just the second Lithuanian to take part in the weekend’s marquee event joining Zydrunas Ilgauskas who was an All-Star in both 2003 and 2005. Recently NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner talked with the younger Sabonis about his All-Star nod, playing style, and growing up in Portland.
One of the first topics of conversation centered around his father and how their playing styles compare. Of course, both players are known for their passing abilities at the forward position, but they also brought a different set of skills to the court.
Domantas Sabonis’ “feel” for the game strikes teammates and opponents alike as the basketball characteristic he most inherited from Arvydas.
“Feel? For sure,” he said. “I personally don’t see comparisons. But my family and my dad’s friends, they grew up watching my dad play, they say they see so many similarities it’s crazy.”
Sabonis also discussed his time growing up in Portland where he developed a love for the game at a young age.
But as far as actual, Sabonis-family development, Domantas said: “We grew up in the basketball world. My dad never encouraged us to play. We just grew up going to his games in Portland. We had basketballs in our hands and just decided we were going to play.
“We never played 1-on-1 but we played shooting games. Pickup games with his friends. Half court.”
Many fans are beginning to pay more attention to Sabonis as he puts up All-Star numbers for the Indiana Pacers. His peers around the league are starting to take note as well, especially after Sabonis helped lead the Pacers to the sixth seed in the East during star Victor Oladipo’s absence.
“It’s beyond deserving,” teammate T.J. McConnell said of Sabonis. “We wouldn’t be where we are without him. He’s carried us.”
McConnell said he “hated” playing against Sabonis when they were foes. “When I was in Philly, he was just one of those dudes who changed the game every time he was in,” McConnell said. “You can’t really stop him — he does a bit of everything. He makes the right play. He gets people open. He makes your job easier, so you can’t ask for much more than that.”
Said Bulls coach Jim Boylen: “What people don’t realize about him is his physicality. He wears you down, he just pounds on you and gets to that left hand. It’s very difficult to handle him.”
According to Aschburner, Arvydas watches each one of his sons’ games and the entire family will be in Chicago to watch him in tonight’s All-Star Game. Averaging 18.3 points and 12.5 rebounds a game, it seems as if Domantas is coming into his own and doing the family name proud.
You can read the rest of Aschburner’s article here.