Portland Trailblazers Face of the Franchise: Who Rules at the Rose Garden?

Bryant KnoxFeatured Columnist IIIMarch 28, 2017

Portland Trailblazers Face of the Franchise: Who Rules at the Rose Garden?

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    There are many players who belong on the list of the all-time greatest Portland Trail Blazers, but who should be recognized as the all-time face of the Trail Blazers franchise?

    From the early days of the 1970's, Sidney Wicks and Lionel Hollins helped set the path that future generations of Trail Blazers would follow.

    Throughout the 80's and 90's, players like Kiki Vandeweghe, Kevin Duckworth, Cliff Robinson and Jerome Kersey helped propel the team to its most entertaining—and arguably most successful—days in team history.

    Even during the early 2000's, the team had players who deserve their place in team history, Damon Stoudemire, Rasheed Wallace and Arvydas Sabonis.

    But among all of the greats, it takes the best of the best to be considered the face of the franchise, and this list has been narrowed down the most deserving candidates in Trail Blazers history. 

7. Buck Williams

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    Position: Power Forward

    Years With The Team: 7

    Statistics With The Team: 10.2 PPG, 8.7 RPG

    Traded to the Portland Trail Blazers in 1989, Buck Williams is the player who officially helped the team sever ties with often-injured Sam Bowie, whom the Blazers selected ahead of Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft.

    Bowie had been a disappointment in Portland to say the least, and sending him to the New Jersey Nets in exchange for Williams helped shape the team that would ultimately find success in the early 1990's.

    Before Williams' arrival, the Trail Blazers had been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs four consecutive seasons. His ruthless presence inside, however, helped push the squad into the NBA Finals in his first season with the team.

6. Geoff Petrie

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    Position: Guard

    Years With The Team: 6

    Statistics With The Team: 21.8 PPG, 4.6 APG

    The first-ever draft pick of the Portland Trail Blazers, Geoff Petrie had an instant impact on the team's offense upon arriving in 1970.

    Named co-Rookie of the Year, the 6'5" guard recorded 24.8 points, 4.8 assists and played in all 82 games that season.

    He went on to score more than 24 points per game three times during his six seasons with Portland, and is known as one of the best shooters to have ever put on a Blazers uniform.

    In an unfortunate twist, his playing days were cut short by a nagging knee injury, a reoccurring problem for the Portland franchise. 

5. Maurice Lucas

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    Position: Power Forward

    Years With The Team: 5

    Statistics With The Team: 15.6 PPG, 8.7 RPG

    Known as "The Enforcer," Maurice Lucas was just what the Portland Trail Blazers needed to get to the next level.

    A young expansion team in the 1970's, the Trail Blazers had never made a playoff series before Lucas' arrival. His first year on the team he averaged 20.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and helped the team win the NBA Championship in their first-ever playoff appearance.

    Known for his rugged inside presence, Lucas became an assistant coach for Portland in 2005, but eventually passed away in 2010 from his battle with bladder cancer.

    Following his death, former teammate Bill Walton recalled his days with Lucas, calling him "the greatest Trail Blazer ever."

    As blue-collar as it gets, Lucas exemplified hard work, toughness and heart—all things that Trail Blazers fans have coveted throughout the course of the franchise. 

4. Terry Porter

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    Position: Point Guard

    Years With The Team: 10

    Statistics With The Team: 14.9 PPG, 7.0 APG, 3.5 RPG

    Terry Porter was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1985, and it can be argued that the team has been missing a great point guard ever since his departure in the mid 1990's.

    The 6'3" guard averaged 10.1 assists in 1988, and then followed it up the next year with 17.7 points, 9.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in arguably the best season of his NBA career.

    Although he never won a championship with the Blazers, he has to be considered a major reason why the team went to two NBA Finals and had another Western Conference Finals appearance during his tenure.

    Porter may be over-shadowed by Clyde Drexler when fans think back on the Blazers teams of the early 90's, but he was a two-time All-Star who could run the floor, shoot the ball, and most importantly, make the right plays.

    A floor general if the team has ever seen one, Porter spent 10 seasons with the team and leads the franchise in both assists and three-pointers.

3. Brandon Roy

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Seasons With The Team: 5

    Statistics With The Team: 19.0 PPG, 4.7 APG, 2.6 RPG

    The What If questions surround the entire Trail Blazers organization and its history, and had it not have been for the degenerative knees that ended a promising career, Brandon Roy could have very well gone on to become the greatest Trail Blazer in franchise history.

    Drafted in 2006 by the Minnesota Timberwolves, Roy was traded to Portland in a draft day deal for Randy Foye and almost instantaneously became the face of a franchise that badly needed rejuvenation and an overall sense of direction.

    Roy was a 20-plus point per game player when healthy, and scored a career-high 52 points in a game in just his third season.

    "The Natural" was named Rookie of the Year, elected to three consecutive All-Star appearances and was touted as one of the best shooting guards in the game behind only Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. 

    Some might argue that No. 3 is too high for the five-year player, but remember, this isn't about the greatest careers in Blazers history — it's about the face of the franchise.

    Roy may have only spent a short time in Rip City, but for a guy who was the undisputed face of the team following the infamous Jail Blazers Era, he deserves a spot near the top of this list.

2. Bill Walton

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    Position: Center

    Years With The Team: 5

    Statistics With The Team: 17.1 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 2.6 BPG

    Head Coach Jack Ramsay has coached both Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler, and says that Walton was the better player, "Hands down."

    While Walton should be known around Portland for the dominating defense that helped bring Portland its only championship, the injuries that plagued the 6'11" center are what keep him out of the No. 1 spot.

    In five seasons with the Trail Blazers, Walton missed more than 200 regular season games to injury. A broken foot in a 1978 playoff game would be his final appearance as a Blazer, as he went on to sign with the San Diego Clippers as a free agent in 1979.

    But unlike other often-injured Portland big men, Sam Bowie and Greg Oden, injuries are not the whole story here.

    Walton averaged 18.5 points, 19 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 3.7 blocks in the 1977 championship series, and helped lead the team back from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers in six games.

    It takes a special kind of player to remain this high on the list despite encountering so many injuries, but with the numbers he put up during his time in Portland, Walton deserves the nod.

1. Clyde Drexler

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    Position: Shooting Guard

    Years With The Team: 12

    Statistics With The Team: 20.8 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 5.7 APG

    Clyde Drexler is arguably one of the greatest 2-guards to ever play in the NBA.

    Drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 1983, Drexler was deemed "The Glide" because of the speed and athleticism that allowed him to run the court and fly through the air on any given possession.

    His ability to score and finish above the rim are what many think of when mentioning the 6'7" guard, but his overall ability is what makes him one of only three players to record 20,000 points, 6,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists in a career.

    In arguably his best year in the NBA, Drexler averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game for the Trail Blazers in 1989.

    An underrated defender, Drexler used his length to average two steals and just under a block per game throughout the course of his career.

    Drexler's time with Portland came to an end during the 1994-95 season in a trade to the Houston Rockets. While he never won a championship with the Blazers, he left the team with two NBA Finals appearances, eight All-Star selections and his name all over the Trail Blazers record book, seemingly solidifying his name as the all-time face of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise.