Portland Trail Blazers of the Early 2000's: Tons of Stars, No Championships

Mike B.Correspondent INovember 27, 2009

After the Portland Trail Blazers were swept in the 1999 NBA Western Conference Finals, it was a given that general manager Bob Whitsitt was going to make some major moves in the offseason.

And of course, "Trader Bob" tinkered with the roster as expected. He traded the team's leading scorer, Isaiah Rider, and Jim Jackson to the Atlanta Hawks for Steve Smith. Then he signed free agent Detlef Schrempf.

Later, Whitsitt sent six bench players to the Houston Rockets for six-time NBA champion Scottie Pippen.

Instantly, the Blazers became one of the most talented teams ever assembled as they were two men deep at all five positions.

It just didn't seem real. They resembled a fantasy team that you would put together on a video game. But no, this wasn't a fantasy, this was real life.

The starting lineup was made up of Pippen and Rasheed Wallace at forward, Arvydas Sabonis at center, and Damon Stoudamire and Smith at guard.

The bench included guys like Briant Grant, Schrempf, Greg Anthony, Bonzi Wells, and a young Jermaine O'Neal. Not bad for a second unit.

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The Blazers went on to win 59 games in 1999-00 and cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs before facing Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant's Lakers in the conference finals.

Game Seven of the series ended up being one of the most memorable games in league history. The Blazers, who led by as much as 15 points in the fourth quarter, ended up losing both the game and the series.

Following the painful loss, Whitsitt pulled the trigger on a couple of more trades in the offseason, much like the previous summer. He shipped O'Neal to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for Dale Davis and dealt Grant for Shawn Kemp. 

Now the Blazers had two more All-Star big men to try to stop O'Neal if they were to meet the Lakers in the postseason again.

Portland finished the 2000-01 campaign with a 52-30 record and of course, wound up playing the Lakers in the playoffs, this time in the first round. The series wasn't quite as memorable as the previous year's as the Blazers were swept by L.A., 3-0.

In the offseason, Smith was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for the younger Derek Anderson and both Schrempf and Sabonis retired.

The Blazers won 49 games in 2001-02 and met up with the Lakers in the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

The team was swept once again.

Sabonis returned the following season and the Blazers lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. 

I guess it goes to show you that you can't build a NBA team with a bunch of All-Stars and expect to win a championship.

Sure, that method may have worked for the New York Yankees, but that's baseball