Algirdas Janilionis of Kaunas, Lithuania is currently a chef in New York City, New York. While the restaurant industry has provided a great career path, Algirdas Janilionis credits the NBA for providing a connection to home and his customers. New York is a wonderful basketball town. Despite the Knicks not having the greatest track record of success over the past few decades, fans are still heavily invested in the team. As a lifelong fan of the NBA, some of Lithuania’s greatest stars currently reside in the NBA. This common connection has helped Algirdas Janilionis connect with his neighbors and form friendships. Today, Algirdas Janilionis will share a little information on two of the best players in the NBA who also come from the great country of Lithuania and why the globalization of basketball is such a positive force in the world.
Domantas Sabonis comes from the most famous Lithuanian basketball family in history. A two-time NBA All-Star who is very likely to be selected for a third time this season and represent the Sacramento Kings, Sabonis was born in May of 1996. His father is Basketball Hall of Famer, Arvydas Sabonis. Algirdas Janilionis notes that Aryvdas Sabonis is a basketball legend not only in Lithuania but throughout Europe. He was already considered the best big man in Europe when he started his NBA career with the Portland Trailblazers. Fellow stars praised his ability to pass the ball as a big-man as this was a skill that was uncommon amongst centers. A pioneer for the modern game, people still speak fondly of Aryvdas and some of the playoff battles he had against Shaquille O’Neal and the other phenomenal centers of his generation.
Domantas Sabonis inherited his father’s court vision. Since his arrival to the NBA in the 2016-2017 season, Domantas has been a focal point on every team he has played for. A highly touted prospect coming out of Gonzaga, Sabonis was selected 11th overall by the Magic and traded to the Thunder on draft night. He spent one season in Oklahoma City before he became a star for the Indiana Pacers and was subsequently traded to the Sacramento Kings this offseason. By carrying on the family legacy, Algirdas Janilionis of Kaunas claims he has inspired the next generation of Lithuanian basketball players.
Since he was a teenager, Jonas Valanciunas has been in the Lithuania basketball spotlight. Starring for the Lithuania Men’s National Basketball Team at the age of 19, Jonas Valancunas has been a mainstay amongst NBA centers since he debuted in 2011. As the fifth overall pick of the New Orleans Pelicans, Jonas became the best Lithuanian basketball player since Aryvdas and carried on the tradition of Lithuanian big men dominating on the world’s biggest basketball stage.
The NBA Difference
Algirdas Janilionis of Kaunas grew familiar with the other major sports in America during his time in New York. While baseball and hockey also attract players from around the globe, the NBA receives the most attention from the national media and the biggest stars come from every corner of the world. Basketball continues to unite all of us as global citizens as people share the common bond of loving this great game. Recent Olympics have only shown how much the gap has closed between the USA national team and other National teams. As the world needs more things to show people how much makes them similar as opposed to how much makes them different, the NBA continues to have a profound impact in Lithuania and across the globe.