Sabonis' Favorite Trail Blazer Moment: Dominating Jordan's Bulls
By sarahhecht Posted in: arvydassabonis
February 25, 1998. The United Center crowd was alive with excitement as they anticipated yet another home win by the Chicago Bulls—then en route to their third consecutive NBA title. With 26 of the last 28 home games ending in victory, they were prepared to slaughter the Portland Trail Blazers on their home court.
What they weren’t prepared for was Arvydas Sabonis.
At the age of 33, Sabonis, affectionately referred to as Sabas, was beyond his prime, playing on knees that weren’t cooperating as they had earlier in his career. But this game in Chicago was different. These 48 minutes were magical.
Sabonis racked up 21 points and ripped down 20 rebounds in 39 minutes. A feat he hadn’t accomplished until that point—Saboins was now a card-carrying member of the 20/20 club. But that wasn’t the end for the 7-3 Lithuanian big man. He contributed four assists in the Trail Blazers’ thrilling 106-101 upset of the Michael Jordan led Bulls, including a jaw-dropping between the legs pass that evokes an audible reaction from fans every time its seen, especially in slow motion.
If you don’t believe me check it out for yourself.
You gasped, I know you did.
What followed the win in Chicago—which Sabonis once noted was his favorite NBA game—was a stretch of hoops that was, without a doubt, the most successful of his NBA career.
Wayne Thompson eloquently described the mind-blowing month of basketball greatness he delivered in the Trail Blazers official history, BLAZERMANIA:
“For all their talent, though, the Bulls simply couldn’t cope with the player that Chicago coach Phil Jackson called “just a mountain of a man who in his prime may have been the most skilled offensive center around.”
Sabonis’s milestone victory over the Bulls in Chicago—the one he said he would share with is children in his golden years—was the beginning of a dozen great games for the quiet Lithuanian. It started February 22, with a 23-point, 11-rebound display in a win at Boston, carried over to Chicago, and continued for 10 more games into mid-March. It was highlighted by a 28-point, 20-rebound domination of the Minnesota Timberwolves, and culminated in a 21-point, 11-rebound performance in a Blazers win at New York.
This stretch of games, in which Arvydas averaged 22 points and 17 rebounds, was the best month of basketball he ever played in the NBA. It was a defining moment for him because it showed basketball fans throughout the nation what all the basketball insiders in Europe and America already knew: that Arvydas Sabonis, even though he was beyond his prime and operating on bad wheels, could really play this game.”
Sabonis elicited fan adoration and support from every corner of Rip City. It rang true on that special evening in Chicago, and it carries through to now as we prepare to honor his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. The chills you feel are normal, we’re all getting them in anticipation of the lovable Lithuanian’s return to Portland. It’s time to share the joy we all felt then and still feel now, it’s time to celebrate.
He’s not MYvydas, he’s not YOURvydas, he’s OURvydas.
Don't miss more Sabas love from Mike Barrett
, Mike Rice
and Casey Holdahl
, these reads will give you the warm and fuzzies.
Arvydas Sabonis will be at a rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Thursday at 1 PM. That night, a reception will take place at the Rose Garden with Sabonis and other members of the Blazers alumni team. You can get into this exclusive event for $50, and that includes heavy appetizers, two drinks, and a chance to mingle with Blazer personalities and a chance to hang with Sabonis. Proceeds from the $50 ticket go to the make it better foundation
. For details, and to purchase tickets to the reception, click here