Back in the day
The Portland Trail Blazers and the Seattle Supersonics may have had the friendliest, non-heated rivalry in NBA history. That says something about the two organizations, but it also says a lot about the quality of people grown in the Great Northwest.
The last time the Blazers and Sonics faced off was March 24, 2008. Seattle took care of business at home, taking down Portland 94-87.
But score aside, what was most memorable about that battle was the nervous energy in the arena. No, not for the final result of the game, but for the long-term security of a city’s beloved team.
Any chance fans got, they began chanting and cheering, making sure their voices were heard. “Save our Sonics” resonated through the halls of KeyArena, and the enthusiasm of the crowd helped the Sonics end an ugly 11-game losing streak.
During the 2007-08 final season, the I-5 rivalry was ready to be renewed. The Blazers and the Sonics were both rebuilding organizations, but before the year began, the two teams had been fortunate enough to land the No. 1 and No. 2 picks in the draft.
Although Kevin Durant and Greg Oden played different positions, the competition between the two of them was supposed to be enough to spark interest league-wide. Oden was going to bring excitement back to the center position, while Durant was going to put his unreal scoring ability on full display.
The NBA even scheduled the Blazers and the Sonics to play on Christmas Day—an honor that is typically reserved for the league’s most passionate rivalries.
Needless to say, the injury-plagued career of Oden put the rebuild in Portland on hold, while the major storyline in Seattle was more about the relocation of the team, and less about the success of the Rookie of the Year.
In four matchups during 2007-08, the Blazers and Sonics split the series two games apiece. Durant averaged 20.8 points per contest for Seattle, while the Blazers had sporadic production from both Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge.
The Christmas Day game received the most attention, and the final matchup between the two of them is memorable; but the most exciting game came in a four-point win by Portland in February.
Aside being in the Northwest region of the country, the two organizations have a number of connections. Looking into the history books, you’ll find that Portland was able to snag former Sonics such as Shawn Kemp, Lenny Wilkens and Detlef Schrempf at different points in their careers. Even in 2008, Seattle natives Brandon Roy and Martell Webster donned the Blazers’ black and red, while Nate McMillan roamed the sidelines as the head coach.
Thinking back on the final matchups between these two organizations, the tendency from fans on both sides is to ask the question: what if? But with good things ahead for both parties, it’s time to look forward.
These two teams will play again, and when they do, it’s going to be a great day for the NBA.