RIP City Basketball: Moments In Time
No matter how you feel about Rip City—whether you find us insufferable homers or a legion of diehards—it’s hard to dispute that our city has played host to some phenomenal players.
True, the on field product hasn’t gotten the job done in season’s past, but there’s a reason this franchise had 21 consecutive playoff appearances.
It all starts with the Trail Blazers players.
But, who are the best starting 5 in Portland’s history? Well, I’m sure we all have our own opinion, but here’s my take.
Center: Greg Oden
… I got yah there didn’t I. Okay, here’s the real pick:
Ha Ha! Got you again. I’m finally done, because there’s really only one obvious choice here, and it’s…
Center: Bill Walton (1974-1978)
One look at Bill Walton, and you might be surprised to hear he played for Portland in the 70s. He’s certainly a visage of modern day Portland, complete with long hair, epic beard and a psychedelic attitude.
The truth is, the flower child known as Bill Walton was one of the best Blazers in the 70s.
He’s certainly the most storied big the franchise has ever had, leading Portland to it’s only finals championship in 1977.
In his four seasons with Portland, Walton averaged a double-double per game—16.6 points, 13.4 rebounds—while dominating the league with his ruthless defense.
The long Blazer to ever win an MVP award—both regular season and finals—Walton was a beast in the playoffs. His 64 postseason blocks in the 1977 playoff run remains the seventh best in the NBA. During Portland’s 19 game finals run, Walton averaged 18.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per contest.
Though their history has been tainted by plenty of duds, Portland will always feature this big gem.
Power Forward: Rasheed Wallace (1996-2004)
This was a tough one. Between LaMarcus Aldridge, Maurice Lucas, Zach Randolph and Sidney Wicks there are plenty of standouts. In the end, I went with the biggest standout of them all.
Who can deny the NBA’s all time leading receiver of technical fouls? I mean, the guy beat out Dennis Rodman.
That takes some serious effort.
For better or worse, you’d be hard pressed to find a Portland Trail Blazer’s fan who doesn’t have some special place in his heart for Rasheed Wallace.
Wallace played seven, and part of eight, seasons for Portland. In that time he averaged 16.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Though never formally decorated for it, he was well recognized as one of the best defenders in the league.
For better or worse, Wallace would eventually become the poster of child of the Jail Blazer era. Though his antics were far less severe than other players, his on court attitude was just asking for the spotlight.
Whether you could or couldn’t stand him, it’s hard to deny the impact Rasheed made on the franchise.
Small Forward: Scottie Pippen (1999-2003)
The 3 has never been a particularly strong position for Portland. In the end, I had to go with Scottie Pippen. Though he player just three seasons for Portland, it’s hard to deny the impact he made on the franchise.
Acquired in 1999 from Houston, the then 34-year old Pippen played four solid seasons for the Blazers.
In that time he averaged 11.3 points, 5 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game.
Pippen’s suffocating defense and veteran leadership helped lead Portland to the playoffs in each of his four seasons.
His first season was his best. That year Portland would make it all the way to the Western Conference Finals.
Though they would eventually lose to the Lakers in the most disappointing way possible, it wasn’t without effort—Pippen registered three double-doubles throughout the series, averaging 15 ppg.
His stint in Portland was short, but boy was it memorable.
Shooting Guard: Clyde Drexler (1983-1998)
No shocker here.
Clyde “The Glide” Drexler is the best player to ever represent the pinwheel. Don’t even try and argue that, because it’s fact, and you’ll lose.
Drafted by the Blazers in 1983, Drexler played all of eleven, and part of twelve, seasons in Portland. In his time with Rip City, the 10 time All-Star put up averages of 20.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 2 steals per game.
His athleticism and speed allowed him to do things that few others could match at the time.
All-time in the NBA, Drexler is seventh in steals and 27th in points. Amongst Portland team records, he’s first in games, minutes, steals, total rebounds and points, while second in assists. Not to mention holding Portland single season records in total points.
Still not convinced?
The Glide has missed a quadruple double twice, each time by one stat (once by a rebound and once by an assist).
As far as I, or any other fan, should be concerned Clyde Drexler is the all-time greatest Trail Blazer.
Point Guard: Brandon Roy (2006-2011)
Yes, I had to cheat here.
Because, in truth Brandon Roy was a shooting guard, and not a point guard—though he certainly played the position at times. If I was going off pure points, I’d have to select Terry Porter (85-95).
Porter was a great player, and to date the best point man to ever play for Portland.
But, as a doe eyed 22-year old I’m a product of my environment. How can anyone growing up in Oregon through the 2000’s deny Brandon Roy on a list of the top starting five ever.
Averaging 19.0 ppg, B-Roy had the purest of scoring instincts. No one could stop him from getting to the basket or landing his shots. The best stretch of his career came from 2008-2010, in which he averaged 22.1 ppg, shooting .477 from the field and .354 beyond the arc.
Despite an up-and-down career, Roy was a savior to this city.
No, I’m not just talking about his several game winners.
No, I’m not talking about his devastating playoff performances.
No, I’m not talking about his deliverance from the “Jail Blazers” era.
I’m talking about all of it. Everything that made Brandon Roy great made Portland great.
For that, he will always be remembered.
I hope you enjoyed.