Lithuanian legend Arvydas Sabonis recently gave a brief interview to Erildis Budraitis of Balsas.lt – later picked up by the official website of Žalgiris Kaunas – in which the big man reminisces about life in the NBA and speculates on the presently American league’s future a bit.
A few interpreted excerpts follow.
Balsas: Do you remember your first days in the NBA?
Sabonis: It was the year 1995, the month of October. Although I was 30 years old, I felt like a rookie. Everything was very interesting. It was a completely different kind of basketball: A very different organization, a different life, and [a different] intensity to the game.
Balsas: You had to play against the most powerful centers in the world. How do you compare the European game to and the NBA’s?
Sabonis: The NBA game was more physical. While in Europe they now play basketball a lot harder, I think it’s still not like the NBA. The American style of play is just different. It’s a more individual game. Also, the value of individual matches is different. You can’t say the regular-season games are not important, but besides the playoffs, [you just] play again tomorrow and move forward.
Balsas: Do you think that is possible to put an NBA team in Europe, for example in London?
Sabonis: It depends on the NBA. If you open the borders of the Euroleague, then there’s no longer any borders…
Balsas: In your opinion, how much are players affected by long flights?
Sabonis: When it’s a good plane, which is almost like a bedroom, what’s an eight-hour trip? The longest trip [the Trail Blazers made] was from Portland to Miami or Orlando – six hours … we were fed and everything. I do not know what the NBA is thinking about this. And Europe may be too small, or have too-small arenas and markets. Inconvenience is caused by traditional roles of teams based in small towns such as Villeurbanne…
The full interview may be read (in Lithuanian) here.