Basketball star plays for home team

  • 2002-04-04
  • Staff and wire reports

Arvydas Sabonis is showing no interest in returning to the U.S. basketball league, the NBA. Lithuania's all-time best basketball player is returning to the court after almost a year of inactivity - but this time to represent a team in his native Lithuania.

On Good Friday, March 29, Sabonis, not so long ago Europe's best basketball center, again put on the Kaunas Zalgiris jersey, the team where he started his career several decades ago. Zalgiris played a Lithuanian Basketball League game against Vilnius' Sakalai team.

Sabonis, 37, the 220-centimeter-tall co-owner of Zalgiris, has been idle since he left the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers at the end of last season. Portland had begged Sabonis to stay.

He could not start this season at an earlier date because he fractured two toes, but he is now registered for all remaining LBL and Euroleague games in the Zalgiris line-up. Unfortunately, Zalgiris has been eliminated from the Euroleague.

In order to play in LBL play-offs or the finals, Sabonis should play at least five games in the regular season.

Zalgiris, which has five games left in the LBL season, is currently second in Lithuania after Vilnius' Lietuvos Rytas team. Battles between Zalgiris and Lietuvos Rytas are the biggest traditional event in Lithuanian sport.

Sabonis' contract with the Trail Blazers, where he's played since 1995, ended last year. He refused offers from other famous clubs, such as Greece's Panathinaikos and Spain's Barcelona and Unicaja.

He has said on several occasions that he wanted to end his basketball career at Zalgiris.