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Portland fans outpouring humbles Arvydas Sabonis

Aug 19, 2011, 11:46 AM EDT

Sabonis Hall of Fame Getty Images

Arvydas Sabonis is a quiet man, not someone given to grand shows of emotion.

But the newly minted Hall of Famer remains one of the most beloved of Trail Blazers, and it showed when more than 2,500 showed up to cheer Sabonis at a rally in the city.

All of that seemed to catch Sabonis by surprise, reports Jason Quick from the Oregonian.

“I feel like I’ve been here the whole time,” said Sabonis, who lives in Kaunas, Lithuania. Always a humble and private person, Sabonis appeared embarrassed by the attention and adulation.

“I say thank you for remembering me,” Sabonis told the crowd. “I’m surprised.”

Sabonis, at 7’3” and around 300 pounds, was one of the few people who could really battle Shaquille O’Neal in the paint during Shaq’s prime. That was despite Sabonis being north of 30 and having had Achilles and foot issues. But here is the stat I think best tells you how rounded his game was — Sabonis was a career 32.8 percent from three-point range. In the 96-97 season he took almost two threes a game on average and hit 37 percent of them. The man is one of the best big men ever to play, we just missed his prime on this side of the ocean.

It’s good to see that the people of Portland have not forgotten him. And it’s good that he knows that now.

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