My starting five – Portland Trail Blazers all time starters

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:

Sam Bowie

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.

Bill Walton

Portland will always feature this big gem

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.

Clyde Drexler

Clyde “The Glide” Drexler is the best player to ever represent the pinwheel.

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).

Brandon Roy

How can anyone growing up in Oregon through the 2000’s deny Brandon Roy on a list of the top starting five ever.

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.

In the midst of all of the great PDX moments, it becomes extremely hard to pick just a few of the NBA players as your favorites. That is exactly what our Editor “Q” asked me to do.

I hope you enjoyed.


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About Jonathan Irwin

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  • NWSportsBeat

    Great read Jon. I grew up a Sonics fan but its always nice to relive “moments in time” from our other northwest hoops team.

    • Thanks Q. It was a lot of fun to write, reliving all the times I watched Rasheed and Pippen on tv, or Roy in the garden. If only I could have been able to watch Walton in the championship year, or Clyde “the Glide” in any season (though he did once come into a restaurant my mom was working on so I have some legit autographs which is cool).

  • Cdirus

    Are you stupid or what? Buck Williams was a PF’s PF he is a man! He is the type of player that makes a team rise above it normal abilities.
    R. Wallace was poison and his impact was death. He will always be part of the Hall of Shame. Better luck next time!

    • Buck Williams had a great personality and was key for Portland in ’92. However, in terms of overall stats he years in Portland were on the constant decline. The biggest thing Rasheed did was play smothering defense, which is why his defensive career averages are better than Williams (except defensive rebounds, but they’re close). However, if you needed him for offense he was there, whether it was playing post or shooting from outside.

      But, this thing wasn’t all about stats. Notice the title. It is “my” starting five. Like I said I’m a 22-year old who grew up watching Portland in the late 90s and early 2000s. Before Brandon Roy came along, this team was it’s best with Pippen and Rasheed leading the charge. And before things got really bad, Wallace was a fun guy to watch play basketball, even when he was getting a technical.

      This is how we leave a comment with respect and without calling someone “stupid,” as you so elegantly put it.

      • Cdirus

        Yes you are entitled to your view of things and yes “stupid” is a little overthe top for which I apologize. I still stand by big Buck. First, for not even being considered on your list. And second, he may have appeared to be in decline only because he came to a team that did not need his offensive abilities. He, unlike many players of today, was a team player who did what it took to help his team win.

        And at small forward Jerome Kersey bled for this team, he always gave 110%. He my not be near what Scotty was, but he was a long term member that was not just passing through.

        Brandon Roy is a great player and maybe should have a sixth spot made just for him, but you leave out some Point Guards that were important to the Blazers success. Without Lionel Hollens’ great play against the Sixers, Portland would not have even made it into the finals. Terry Porter was integral to the success the Blazers had during the Drexler years. On that kind of level, what did Brandon Roy bring to Portland?

        • Cdirus

          Correction: The Bulls not the Sixers (paragraph 3, sentance 2)

        • Cdirus

          Correction: Bulls not Sixers

        • I have to agree with Cdirus, Terry Porter and Jerome Kearsey most definately brought a lot to that team, and probably a championship if not for the Jordon led Bulls. But as Q put it, I was raised a Sonics fan, so honestly, I hated all of the Blazers back in the day.

        • I admit, Terry Porter was for sure a great point. Maybe I should have included a “sixth man” and put in Mr. Roy and had Porter at point.

          Though I do have to make an argument out of you saying “On that kind of level, what did Brandon Roy bring to Portland?” Roy was a savior, leading Portland out of the “Jail Blazers” era and to three consecutive playoffs. If he had stayed healthy, one wonders what could have been.

          • Cdirus

            I hope Roy is able to return to health and play again (in the East if not with Portland).

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