Portland Trail Blazers: 12 Most Popular Players in Franchise History

Kristian Winfield@@KrisWinfield_Correspondent IIISeptember 7, 2011

Portland Trail Blazers: 12 Most Popular Players in Franchise History

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    The Portland Trail Blazers have had their fair share of talent throughout the franchise's history. Whether it's a dynamic scorer/slasher or an incredibly gifted big man, dominant players have made their way through the ranks in Rip City.

    This list, however, doesn't rank players by their scoring or production. It ranks them by how much the hometown crowd loved them throughout their stay.

    Let's take a look at the most popular Trail Blazers in franchise history.

Zach Randolph

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    Many people forget that, although he played in New York a few years back, the start of Zach Randolph's bad-mouthed big man career had its roots in Portland.

    Actually, with 23.6 points, 10.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game in his final season with the Trail Blazers, one could argue that those were his best days.

    Z-Bo was never known for being athletically gifted, but what he lacks in vertical leap, he makes up for in strength and physicality.

    Randolph bullies defenders in the post, combining this incredible footwork with that smooth fade-away jumper. He also puts himself in perfect position and boxes out to crash the boards, rather than soaring through the air like some gifted big men (see Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin).

    Regardless, Randolph, aside from his technical fouls, was a crowd favorite.

    Why? Because he got the job done. He was dependable and did his job better than many.

Clifford Robinson

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    One of basketball's most electrifying dunkers, Clifford Robinson used his high-intensity playing style and his lanky, versatile body to finish above (or through) defenders at the rim.

    Getting drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers at the 36th pick of 1989 NBA draft, Robinson used his anger from falling to the second round to exact revenge on all who passed on him.

    Robinson ranks third in franchise history in scoring.

    He also ranks second in blocks, third in three-pointers, sixth in steals and ninth in rebounds.

Rasheed Wallace

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    Rasheed Wallace might not have been great at controlling his temper, but when it came to production, he was one of the best.

    Known for his ridiculous trash talking, flagrant fouls and NBA brawls, Wallace never faltered when it mattered most.

    Whether it was knocking down a clutch three, or bullying defenders in the post (a severely underrated aspect of his game), Sheed always got the job done.

    He had some highs and lows in Portland, but Wallace's presence was always felt. Between arguing with the referees and getting into it with the other team, Sheed will go down as one of the most infamous players in NBA history.

LaMarcus Aldridge

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    When Brandon Roy went down, LaMarcus Aldridge immediately stepped in and showed that he could be the No.1 for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Everything from points to rebounds, blocks and steals increased from the prior season, and L.A. instantly became the subject of chants in the Rose Garden.

    Once Roy's Robin, Aldridge became the leader of the Portland Trail Blazers.

    With his low-post savvy and a very consistent mid-range jumper, L.A. was able to put the Trail Blazers on his back and—literally—carry them to the sixth seed in the West.

    With him as Portland's new No.1, if he can be coupled with a healthy Trail Blazers' roster, Rip City will do some huge damage in the NBA next season.

    If Roy cannot return to his old, All-Star caliber self, Aldridge will continue to be the ace for this growing Portland Trail Blazers squad.

Jerome Kersey

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    At first, Jerome Kersey was a glue-guy—one of the guys who did all the dirty work without complaining.

    But after years of hard training and development, Kersey became one of the better players in Portland Trail Blazer history.

    "My role was to do all the dirty work," Kersey said to Jason Quick of the Oregonian. "Get on the fast break, dive for loose balls, grab the rebounds."

    Once he took his energy and applied it to all aspects of basketball, he became sort of a go-to guy for Portland. 

Brandon Roy

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    In his prime (before the injuries and surgeries), Brandon Roy was the crowd favorite.

    He wasn't the flashiest player, but Roy got the job done using his crafty ball-handling and his nearly unstoppable mid-range game.

    A 20-and-five kind of guy, B-Roy had what people called "sneaky speed."

    He wasn't incredibly fast, but when attacking the basket or turning the corner, Roy had a second gear that he could shift to.  

    Due to his run-in with knee injuries, Roy's game is definitely undergoing some revamping, to say the least.

    It'll be interesting to see how his career pans out without his athleticism. It's a sad sight to see the All-Star guard go down like this, but there's a chance that Brandon Roy's career isn't over yet.

    I think he's got a bit more left in the tank than people are giving him credit for.

    With the extra rehab time he's gotten from the lockout, let's see if B-Roy can make the grandest comeback of them all.

Kiki Vandeweghe

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    Kiki Vandeweghe was one the most dynamic scorers to ever put on a Portland Trail Blazers jersey.

    Though he believes that his numbers could have been far better had be been able to play the way he wanted to—he was quite often injured—Vandeweghe retains the highest scoring average in a Blazer's career, with 23.5 points per game.

    He also had the second-highest points average in a single season with 26.9 in the '87-'88 season.

    Vandeweghe just barely sits outside of company like Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki with his efforts to join the 50-40-90 club (50% FG, 40% 3PT, 90% FT).

    Though his sweet jumper was the focal point of his game, it would've been incredible to see what he would've been had he not suffered from chronic back aches.

Terry Porter

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    Terry Porter is a prime example of how hard work and dedication pays off.

    From the beginning of his career to the end, Porter made a whopping 20-percent increase in three-point-shooting percentage.

    Coming into the league, Porter shot 31 percent from downtown. The following season, that number dropped to a career-low 21.7 percent. For the rest of his time in Portland, his percentage from deep never dropped below 34.8 and was as high 41.5 percent.

    As Portland's "king of threes," Porter holds the franchise record for made three-pointers with 773 and is their all-time assist leader with 5,319.

    He is also second in franchise history in points with 11,330 and second in steals with 1,182.

    His number (30) is retired at the Rose Garden.

Geoff Petrie

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    Recognized as the "Original Trail Blazer" because he was the team's first-ever draft pick, Geoff Petrie was a dynamic scorer—the best on his team at the time. 

    Petrie put up one of the greatest performances in NBA history, scoring 51 points against the Houston Rockets.

    When Mike Newlin, the man who defended him for most of the night, said after the game "he got lucky" and that he would never to that again, Petrie took it personally.

    So personally that he waited three months until the two teams met again to drop another 51 points on him.

    And, of course, Newlin claimed he never made those statements.

    Revered as one of Portland's all-time greats, Petrie averaged 21.8 points and 4.6 assists per game.

    After his career in Portland ended, he came back as a radio announcer, customer service agent and even a shooting coach for his former team.

Clyide Drexler

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    Clyde Drexler, in his prime, was a glorified version of LeBron James back in the '80s.

    Don't crucify me just yet. Hear me out.

    Using his superb athleticism, Clyde "The Glide" wowed the crowds with his eye-popping finishes around the rim.  

    In his best year with the Portland Trail Blazers (1987-'88), Drexler averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.7 steals per game.

    Sound like someone you know?

    "The Glide" is still the Trail Blazers' leader in points, rebounds and steals, and he's second in assists.

    He's got a franchise-best 21 triple-doubles and is one of only five Blazers to score 50 or more points in a game.

    One of the NBA's most illustrious slashers, Drexler's No. 22 jersey hangs from the top of the Rose Garden.

    Inducted to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004, Clyde Drexler was one of, if not the greatest Blazer to ever play the game.

Bill Walton

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    How could Bill Walton not be on this list?

    One of the greatest Trail Blazers to ever live, it was Walton who led Portland to their only NBA Finals victory in 1977.

    Though he was only a Trail Blazer for four seasons, it was his last two in Portland that would solidify his place in basketball history.

    In their championship season, Walton put up monster numbers, averaging 18.6 points, 14.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.2 blocks and a steal per game. Such an all-around player has no choice but to go down in history as one of the NBA greats.

    The next season (his last in Portland), Walton increased his points to 18.9, and brought his assists up to an unparalleled five per game.

    What center do you know that averaged five assists, with 2.5 blocks, 13.2 rebounds, 18.9 points and a steal every game? That's insane.

    Walton was a crowd favorite during his time in Portland. When he left Rip City, his numbers dropped across the board.

    His jersey hangs from the rafters in the Rose Garden for all to marvel. 

Arvydas Sabonis

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    The man has a day (August 18th) dedicated to him and what he did for the city of Portland.

    How much more popular does it get?

    Arvydas Sabonis was Portland's first-round pick in 1986, but he didn't make it to the NBA from Lithuania until the 1995-'96 season—nearly a decade later.

    "There's no question that before he came over, he was one of the top three centers in the world, right there with (Kareem) Abdul-Jabbar and (Bill) Walton. He could run like a deer, shoot, pass. He would have been incredible." said former coach Mike Dunleavy to the Oregonian's Jason Quick.

    Almost a point guard in the form of a center, Sabonis had incredible passing and court vision for a big man.

    One of the best-passing big men, if not the best, to ever grace an NBA court, Sabonis was renowned for his on-point behind-the-back and no-look passes.