On this day 20 years ago, Oct. 30, 2002, Sabonis made his Blazers return in a game against the infamous Lakers. After missing the entire 2001-02 season, the Lithuanian big man emerged from retirement to play again in the 2002-03 season. In his first game back, a 37-year-old Sabonis wowed the crowd in the fourth quarter with four consecutive passes out of the post that set up teammates beautifully.
In an instance of game recognizing game, the passing also wowed former Blazer great Bill Walton who was on ESPN’s broadcast of the game. Both Sabonis and Walton are considered two of the best passing big men in NBA history and this exhibition by Sabonis was enough to get the 1977 NBA champ excited.
“What a brain, what an imagination!” Walton exclaimed after the second pass.
The four-play sequence was capped off by the best pass of the bunch: a dazzling, behind-the-back bounce pass to a cutting Bonzi Wells for two. Enjoy!
October 30, 2002: Playing in his first NBA game in more than a year and a half, Portland's Arvydas Sabonis creatively set up his teammates on four consecutive trips down the floor.— NBA Cobwebs (@NBACobwebs) October 30, 2022
The Trail Blazers (1-0) beat the Lakers (0-2), 102-90.
The 2002-03 season would be Sabonis’ final in Portland, as he retired for good after the Blazers lost in Game 7 of the first round to the Dallas Mavericks. In 78 appearances that season, Sabonis averaged 6.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 15.5 minutes per game.