Portland Trail Blazers' All-Time Starting 5
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With fantasy leagues in full swing and the NBA season starting up soon, I figured it'd be interesting to come up with the ultimate fantasy for a Portland Trail Blazers fan: The all-time starting five in franchise history.
The Trail Blazers have an unusual amount of retired numbers hanging in the rafters with 12 players and 11 numbers represented; whether or not it's too much for a franchise that has won just one championship has been debated frequently.
But truly, which players deserve that recognition as being the best at their position while wearing the scarlet and black? Here is my all-time starting five for the Blazers and honorable mentions at each position.
Point Guard: Terry Porter
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No player was more clutch in his hey day for the Blazers than Terry Porter.
The No. 30 from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point was, indeed, the go-to guy in the early 1990s, even when Clyde Drexler was the face of the franchise.
Porter was the leader, guiding the Blazers to NBA Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992. He averaged 18 points and 8 assists during his prime, and was such a great complement to Drexler in the backcourt with his playmaking ability and the emotion he brought.
While he was known as a scoring point guard, he still remains the franchise leader in career assists with 5,319. His tenure ended after signing with Minnesota in 1995.
Honorable mention: Rod Strickland
True Blazer fans will remember Strickland and how much of a pure point guard he was. He still holds the record for most assists in a game in franchise history with 20. Strickland lasted four seasons in his first stint with the Blazers and built tremendous chemistry with Arvydas Sabonis for a short time.
His talent was unquestionable in what has been a revolving door at the position for Portland for some time.
Shooting Guard: Clyde Drexler
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Drexler is arguably the best Blazer in franchise history.
He was named one of the NBA's 50 greatest players in 1996. He was a member of the original Dream Team. He finished second in the most valuable player voting to Michael Jordan in 1992, and provided highlight after highlight by cementing his nickname as The Glide.
Along with Terry Porter, they were one of the more dynamic backcourt duos in the NBA with their scoring ability and play in the clutch.
He was traded to Houston for Otis Thorpe in 1995, and helped the Rockets win their second of back-to-back championships after leading Portland to Finals appearances in 1990 and 1992.
Honorable mention: Brandon Roy
There was already talk from fans of wanting Roy's No. 7 being hoisted in the rafters before his playing days were done. That's how good he was.
Roy single-handedly made fans forget the Jail Blazer era and had he not been forced to retire, he was well on his way to becoming the best Blazer of all-time. The end of his run was heartbreaking and unfortunate, but he is still regarded as one of the best shooting guards in franchise history for those who saw him play.
Small Forward: Scottie Pippen
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The small forward is hugely debatable.
It could go to Jerome Kersey, you could argue for Bobby Gross. But when forming an all-starting five, I had to go with Scottie Pippen.
Pippen arrived to Portland before the 2000 season in a trade with Houston for Walt Williams, Kelvin Cato, Stacey Augmon, Brian Shaw, Carlos Rogers and Ed Gray. He immediately turned the Blazers into a championship contender before their fateful Game 7 against the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
But there was no doubting the type of impact he had on the franchise. His leadership was immeasurable, his defense was tenacious and when the Blazers needed a big shot, he provided it during their short run.
Honorable mention: Jerome Kersey
Kersey was a glue guy for the Blazers in the early 1990s. The forward out of Longwood College provided hustle, defense, scoring and energy.
He was also as athletic as any one in the game at the time. In 1995, he was left unprotected in the expansion draft and was selected by the Toronto Raptors.
Power Forward: Maurice Lucas
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I really wanted to go with Rasheed Wallace, but looking back, Maurice Lucas should definitely be the selection as the best power forward to play for the Trail Blazers.
He played three seasons for Portland and led them to its first and only NBA championship in 1977. While many people would associate that team with Bill Walton, Lucas was just as important. He was the team's leading scorer at 20.2 points per game to go with 11.4 rebounds.
He earned an All-NBA second-team selection in 1978 and his No. 20 hangs in the rafters.
Lucas was famously known for his fight with Darryl Dawkins in the 1977 NBA Finals that changed the series' complexion for the underdog Blazers, who went on to win the series 4-2.
The Blazers traded Lucas to the New Jersey Nets in 1980. He was an assistant coach for the Blazers before passing away two years ago after a long fight with bladder cancer.
Honorable mention: Rasheed Wallace
Wallace received a bad rap during his career, but there was no doubting his talent in his prime. Wallace was one of the most talented players in the game with his ability to post up, shoot three-pointers and defend.
He was an ultimate team-first guy, according to his teammates. He helped the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals in 1999 and 2000 before getting traded to Atlanta for Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Theo Ratliff and Dan Dickau in 2004.
Center: Bill Walton
The center position is a sore spot for Blazers fans.
Greg Oden, Sam Bowie and Bill Walton belong in a line of Blazer centers who had their careers derailed by injuries.
But for Walton, his impact during his short run was so good that he is still arguably the best Blazer of all-time. He was the 1977 NBA Finals MVP and was the only Blazer in franchise history to win the league MVP (in1978).
Portland was 50-10 the year after winning the title and was on the verge of another championship before lingering foot injuries cut his career short.
His passing ability, his rebounding and as the focal point in head coach Jack Ramsay's offense, Walton's talent was unmatched during his era.
He played four seasons in Portland before getting traded to the San Diego Clippers in 1979.
Honorable mention: Arvydas Sabonis
Sabonis had unbelievable basketball instincts for a man who stood 7'3". The Lithuanian had the sky-hook, the ability to shoot three-pointers and his behind-the-back passes were the stuff of legends.
Despite the injuries, he was still a dominant center when he came over to the NBA late in his career. Had he come over in his prime, there was no telling how many titles Portland would have won if he teamed up with Porter, Drexler, Kersey and the Blazers of the early '90s.
Who would be in your all-time starting five for the Trail Blazers? Who else would you mention?