Arvydas Sabonis has always preferred to stay close to home. His career as a one of the greatest centers to ever play the game has taken him all over the world, but that was a requirement of the work rather than a perk, at least for Sabonis.
"I prefer to stay home," said Sabonis in an 1997 Rip City Magazine interview, "play with my kids, take hot tubs and sleep rather than go out."
That stay-at-home mentality is likely why we haven't seen much of Sabonis since he retired from the NBA for good in 2003. He was always one to eschew the limelight during his playing days, and that desire to be left alone continued and probably increased after his retirement. Since moving back to Lithuania, we here in Portland have seen neither hide nor hair of Sabonis, despite his status as one of the most beloved Trail Blazers of all time.
But eight-plus years after leaving Portland behind, Arvydas is finally coming back. Sabonis will return to the Rose City on August 18 for a weekend of festivities celebrating his career in Portland and induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a part of the class of 2011. For the first time since 2003, people in Portland will have an opportunity to pay their respects to one of the most iconic players in basketball's history.
Hopefully there will be a gathering to celebrate Sabas that is open to the public, but specifics are still being worked out. Expect an official announcement with times and dates to come in the next few days.
Regardless of the specifics, Sabonis finally making his way back to Portland, even if only for a few days, is welcomed news. It probably wasn't an easy decision for Sabas to make, as he's always preferred to keep to himself, but the love and support that has always existed for him in Portland, along with his much-deserved induction into the Hall of Fame, must have finally convinced the mountain of a man from Kaunas, Lithuania to pay us a return visit
Watch the announcement on Trail Blazers Courtside: