Monday, February 16, 2004
posted 3:04 PM
When you take a look at the history of the Portland Trailblazers' NBA franchise, you can't help but admire the long history of loyal fans, the multi-year sell-out crowds, perennial play-off contender, the fabulous arena they've built, and of course, the many stupid decisions by management regarding players.
Up until recently, the Trailblazers had a wonderful relationship with their fans. As Portland's only professional sports team, the Blazers are considered the only game in town. They've built a large following of loyal fans since the team started up in 1970. From April, 1977 until the new Rose Garden arena was built in 1995, the Blazers SOLD OUT every single home game at the Memorial Coliseum. Now, of course, it was a smaller arena (it only holds 12,666 for basketball) in a smaller city, but 809 straight sell-outs? Nearly 20 years straight of sold out games? Wow. That's impressive. Then you think about the fact that they made the playoffs for 16 straight years!
So the bottom line is, you have a group very loyal, basketball-hungry fans in Portland. This is in spite of the fact that the Blazer management team has made some pretty sketchy decisions over the years (especially recently) regarding trading and acquiring players.
Well, you can't begin a conversation about this without looking at an early decision. Take a look at the first few picks from the 1984 NBA draft:
1984 NBA Draft, First Round
Pick Player College
1. Houston Akeem Olajuwon Houston
2. Portland (from Indiana) Sam Bowie Kentucky
3. Chicago Michael Jordan North Carolina
4. Dallas (from Cleveland) Sam Perkins North Carolina
5. Philadelphia (from LA Clippers) Charles Barkley Auburn
Notice anything? Yes, that's right. The Blazers passed on drafting a solid kid named Michael Jordan that year, and instead went with Sam Bowie from Kentucky, who was already having trouble with his knees. Bowie only played a couple of years before injuries forced his retirement. Ok, so this was one of those "who could've known" things, and obviously if the Blazers had known the type of player Jordan would be, they would have picked him instead. Plus, you just never know how a college player will fare in the NBA.
But, lets take a look at some of the players the Blazers have traded away over the years:
First off there's Clyde Drexler and Scottie Pippen. Drexler was traded to Houston in 1995. Not only the most popular player in franchise history, but also the overall statistical leader in almost every category. Of course, part of the trade was that Clyde wanted to return home to Houston and finish his career in his hometown. The same was true for Pippen – he wanted to finish out his career in Chicago.
With that said, you have to look at the following Blazers, who were traded away and in most cases went on to be important players for their new teams (in no particular order):
**Steve Smith (New Orleans)
**Jermaine O'Neal (Indiana)
**Brian Grant (Miami)
**Bonzi Wells* (Memphis)
**Rasheed Wallace* (Atlanta)
**Rod Strickland (Orlando)
**Cliff Robinson (Golden State)
Mario Ellie (Houston)
**Aaron McKie (Philadelphia)
**Wesley Person (Atlanta)
**Kelvin Cato (Houston)
**Stacy Augmon (New Orleans)
**Antonio Daniels (Seattle)
**Kenny Anderson (Indiana)
*These trades were inevitable – made to improve relations with the fans.
**Currently still playing in the NBA
Quite an impressive list, huh?