The series of injuries Arvydas Sabonis suffered in the mid- to late-1980s actually benefited the Lithuanian big man, according to his compatriot Šarūnas Marčiulionis, who believes they helped Sabonis refine his game.

Sabonis suffered his first Achilles tendon injury in 1986 and then had Achilles surgery in 1988 but was rushed back to the court by the USSR Olympic team for the 1988 Olympic Games. Sabonis would eventually develop chronic knee, ankle and groin issues.

But while many say those injuries limited Sabonis’ mobility and explosiveness, Marčiulionis told heinnews in an interview that they actually made the dominating force in the paint a more complete player.

“I think his game got more mature. And those injuries helped him to think more and analyze the game as a team player,” said Marčiulionis.

“When he had his skills like to jump and run, there were times when he was more careless with turnovers because he was so much more dominating as an athlete.”

Marčiulionis, who teamed with Sabonis to win a number of Olympic, world and European medals for the Soviet Union and Lithuania, says putting the older, wiser Sabonis together with the younger, more explosive Sabonis was a scary thought.

“I think if you can add his game, his smart game and that athleticism he would have been … who knows.”

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