Whether you are a born-and-raised Portlander or a visitor to the city, attending a popular sporting event is always a good option for thrills and excitement. The Portland Trail Blazers began playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1970 and have earned a diehard fanbase since then. When it comes to Portland sports, the Trail Blazers have been the main attraction for many years, and they continue to be a fan-favorite team season after season.
The Portland basketball team, referred to by fans as The Blazers or “Rip City”, plays at the Moda Center which is located in the Lloyd District of the city. Since joining the league, the Portland Blazers have left their mark in NBA history with one championship and a number of Rookie of the Year awards. Read more to learn about this historic franchise, some notable players that were on the team and how the Trail Blazers are predicted to fare in the upcoming season.
Early History of the Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers’ name alludes to the famous expedition by Lewis and Clark, which concluded nearby modern-day Portland. After joining the Northwest Division of the Western Conference in 1970, the Blazers had a slow start in the NBA. The Trail Blazers record was the worst in their division for five out of their first six seasons. However, the team would have a breakout year during the 1976-1977 season.
During that year, the Portland Trail Blazers franchise completed their first regular season with a winning record of 49 wins to 33 losses. With the legendary Bill Walton leading the charge, this Trail Blazers team pushed through the postseason and made it to their first NBA finals where they came back from a 0-2 playoff deficit to win their first championship. Bill Walton earned the NBA Finals MVP that season with the Blazers, making him the only player in the franchise to earn that title.
Since the Trail Blazers NBA championship in 1977, the team has grown a fanbase unlike any other in the league. In fact, the team has set a sports record for most consecutive sold-out games as fans have consistently filled up the stands of the Moda Center year after year. This can be attributed to the Portland Trail Blazers gritty play style and the team’s consistency each year, impressively making the playoffs in 33 of the last 42 seasons.
Notable Players from the Portland Trail Blazers Roster
The Portland Trail Blazers roster has been home to a number of legendary players throughout the years. The Trail Blazers have been serious contenders in the Western Conference since their championship in 1977 and a number of all-star players have helped them get there. Many basketball legends and fan-favorites have donned the Blazers uniform over the years but here are a few notable players:
- Arydvas Sabonis (1995-2001, 2002-2003) – For seven seasons this international basketball legend from Lithuania represented the Rip City while playing in the NBA. At 7-foot-3, he was one of the best passing big men to ever play basketball.
- Lamarcus Aldridge (2006-2015) – Traded to the Portland Trail Blazers roster from the Bulls on draft night, Aldridge was a 4-time all-star with the team. He was a flexible big man with a solid post game and a smooth midrange jump shot.
- Rasheed Wallace (1996-2004) – Rasheed Wallace brought energy to the Trail Blazers every night he hit the court after being traded by the Washington Bullets after his rookie year. In a Western Conference stacked with the best big men in the league, Wallace made the all-star team in back-to-back seasons in a Portland uniform.
- Bill Walton (1974-1978) – Drafted as the first overall pick by Portland in 1974, Bill Walton, aka Big Red, helped take the Trail Blazers to the franchise’s only NBA championship in 1977. This NBA legend led the league in blocks and rebounds during the 1976-1977 season and won the MVP award 1977.
- Terry Porter (1985-1995) – Terry Porter is a Blazer icon due to his longevity and consistency with the team, especially for a player drafted as the No. 24 pick overall. He was a part of one of the most dynamic Portland teams playing alongside Clyde Drexler.
- Clyde Drexler (1983-1995) – “Clyde the Glide” Drexler is a Portland Trail Blazers hero who led the team to two NBA finals as a part of a Portland’s deadly duo along with point guard Terry Porter. Drexler dominated the league and helped make the Trail Blazers a powerhouse in the Western Conference.
- Damian Lillard (2012-present) – As the 2012 Rookie of the Year, Lillard averaged an impressive 19 points and 6.5 assists per game in his first year. Lillard remains the face of the Portland Trail Blazers as they prepare for the 2019 season.
The Future of the Portland Trail Blazers
After an exhilarating 2018-2019 season as competitors in the conference finals, the Portland Trail Blazers playoff’s outlook is looking bright for the future. CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have chosen to re-sign their contracts and stay with the team for a few more seasons as a way to show their loyalty to the city. Their re-signing proves that the players on the Portland Trail Blazers roster are just as diehard as the fans who fill the stands each game.
In the offseason, the Portland Trail Blazers picked up veteran center Pau Gasol on a one-year contract. This pickup adds some veteran experience and depth to the Blazers roster. Some new additions to the team through trades include Kent Bazemore from the Atlanta Hawks and Hassan Whiteside from the Miami Heat. Based on these recent pickups, defense seems to be a large focus in building the future lineup of the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers have added six new players to their roster, which gives plenty of opportunities for new players to impress with their performance and shake up the lineup. This Portland Trail Blazers roster is stacked with a number of veterans who have proven their abilities but are still fighting for that championship title.
Photo by Keeton Gale.