And 1 I don’t…
In a state with only one major sports team, the Portland Trailblazers have held down the Oregon pro sports scene since 1970. While there is a huge following for Oregon amateur sports, one has to wonder if the Northwest could afford another MLB team or an expansion NHL club (though Seattle is the more likely location).
With one championship, eleven retired numbers hanging in the Rose Garden rafters and a truck load of individual honors, the Portland Trailblazers have seen multiple roster changes and approaches throughout the years.
“The Draft”, “The Draft 2.0″, “Failed Title Runs”, “”The Jailblazers”, “The Rebirth” and “The Draft 3″ have given the Portland club labels that have led to a number of positive and negative results.
Sandwiched in between selecting LaRue Martin and Greg Oden, the Blazers have seen the side effects of selecting Bill Walton and Sam Bowie.
They have seen the dark days of a roster filled with Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Isaiah Rider, Ruben Patterson and Qyntel Woods.
Where once Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson and most recently Brandon Roy punched their time cards, the current make up of the Blazers continues to bring the RIP CITY faithful hope of another championship.
While the 2011-2012 roster has most of the major building blocks covered, adding the following five players to the roster would no doubt push them over the top:
1. Brandon Roy (2006-2011)
BRoy nearly didn’t happen for the Trailblazers, and thanks to a series of draft day trades, including swapping seventh overall pick Randy Foye, the Blazers made off as clear winners in the deal. All Roy did was become 2007 Rookie Of The Year, three time All-Star (2008-2010) and a member of the All NBA second (2009) and third team (2010).
Unfortunately for Roy, well documented injuries to his knees led to his early retirement, but memories of his regular season and playoff heroics still remain embedded in Trailblazer fans heads.
2. Clyde Drexler (1983-1995)
Yes, BRoy and Clyde ” The Glide” are of nearly the same build and play relatively the same position (though in my case, I would slide Clyde over to the small forward spot). While Drexler did finally capture a ring during his final years in Houston, he will forever be remembered as the West Coast version of Michael Jordan.
A ten time All-Star and multiple time member of All NBA teams, Clyde helped carry the Blazers to two NBA Championship appearances (1990 and 92). Drexler fans will remember the 92 finals as the Blazers fell to Jordan and the Bulls 4-2.
Despite averaging 25 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists in the series, Drexler could not led the Blazers to their second championship in team history.
3. Greg Oden (2008-present)
He was supposed to be the pillar of the paint, the man who would deny any opponent daring enough to drive the lane. On the offensive end, Oden would give the team a back to the basket presence that also had the ability to step out for a short range “J”.
Sandwiched between comparisons of David Robinson and Emeka Okafor early in his basketball career, the only comparison that currently holds any water is that to former Blazers pick, Sam Bowie.
With lofty expectations placed upon him, as Kevin Durant, the second overall pick in the 2007 draft as carved out an All-NBA resume, Oden’s presence in the Blazers lineup is sorely missed in many ways.
4. Jerome Kersey (1984-1995)
From a small Div 2 school and the second last pick in the second round of the 1984 draft, Kersey carved out a seventeen year career with six different teams, but is best remembered for his time in Portland. Rewarded for his workman like effort by being inserted into the starting lineup, Kersey posted a career high 19 points and 8 rebounds per game during the 1987-88 season.
The ultimate “glue guy”, Kersey lost his starting spot to Cliff Robinson a few years later, but still remained a favorite of teammates and fans.
5. Arvydas Sabonis (1995-2001, 2002-2003)
The story of “Sabas” was one of best big men that the NBA was never fully able to enjoy. With extended range, the ability to find teammates and a wealth of international experience, Sabonis, with a well documented international career, did not join the Trailblazers until his was 31 years old, one of the oldest rookies ever to play in the league.
In an interview with ESPN, Clyde Drexler stated that if Sabonis had been in the lineup alongside himself, Porter, Robinson, Kersey and Buck Williams, the team would would “have had four, five or six titles.
He was that good. He could pass, shoot three pointers, had a great post game, and dominated the paint”.
Who wouldn’t want a big man that could offer that?
Hit The Road Jack:
Isaiah “JR” Rider (1996-1999)
Rider’s most memorable moments in the NBA consist of the “East Bay Funk” and his mom coming out of the stands to usher him off the court when he failed to leave a game after being ejected. In his tenure with the Jailblazers, Rider was suspended for a total of twelve games, including a three game punishment for spitting on an overly vocal fan.
Not your most ideal citizen.
While he did post nearly an average of 20 points and five rebounds during the 97-98 season, the addition of Rider to the roster coincided with a pair of first round exits from the playoffs and one appearance in the Western Conference Finals.