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On Friday, Sabonis will receive one of the sport's ultimate signs of respect when he is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. Former Blazers great Bill Walton will accompany and present Sabonis at the induction. Tradition calls for the incoming members of the Hall to pick a previous inductee to introduce them.

Jensen, the Blazers longtime athletic trainer who spent countless hours working on the feet, ankles and back of Sabonis during his seven seasons in Portland, will represent the Blazers at the ceremony in Springfield, Mass.

"I spoke to him after he was chosen and his response was typical Sabas," Jensen said. "He said, 'What did I do to deserve this? I don't know.' He was such a humble guy, but he is truly honored."

Sabonis on Aug. 18 will make his first appearance in Portland since he retired after the 2002-03 season during a 1p.m. celebration at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

"I think he is surprised it's such a big deal to people in Portland," Jensen said. "He really doesn't understand what he has done to deserve such an honor and such attention."

Sabonis won two Olympic medals -- the gold for the 1988 Soviet Union and the bronze for the 1992 Lithuanian teams -- and was the two-time European player of the year.

In 1986, he became the first international player to be drafted in the first round when the Blazers took him with the 24th overall pick. Because of political tension at the time and later because of injuries, Sabonis didn't come to Portland until 1995, when he was 31.

By then, he was limited by previous injuries, in particular a ruptured Achilles tendon and an arthritic foot. But he was still effective and artistic, averaging 14.5 points and 8.1 rebounds in his first season. He started the final 21 games of the season, and the Blazers closed with an 18-3 record and made the playoffs as Sabonis averaged 17.6 points and 10.7 rebounds as a starter.

In the 1996 playoffs, he averaged 23.6 points and 10.2 rebounds, but the Blazers lost in five games to Utah in the opening round.

In seven seasons (1995-2001, 2002-03; the year gap occured when he returned to Europe to spend time with family) Sabonis averaged 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, all while amazing fans with his gigantic size (7-foot-3, 295 pounds) and delighting with his crafty behind-the-back passes.
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