Portland Trail Blazers

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 09:12

History of Portland Trail Blazers

Information about the NBA team Portland Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers are a team in the Western Conference of the NBA. They have been established in 1970 as an expansion franchise together with the Buffalo Braves and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The first draft picks of the Portland Trail Blazers were Geoff Petrie and LeRoy Ellis. During the first year of the Portland Trail Blazers, a record of 29-53 was posted. They did not get successful the following season but their newest player, Sidney Wicks, was named Rookie of the Year. The Portland Trail Blazers also got another lottery pick in 1972 which they used on LaRue Martin.

However, both rookies did not do much impact to the Portland Trail Blazers. It was when the team drafted Bill Walton in 1974 that their luck began to change. The team hired Lenny Wilkens to coach their young talents but he was unable to secure wins for the team. Wilkens was replaced by Jack Ramsay before the start of the 1976 season. The Portland Trail Blazers also added Maurice Lucas, a former player in the ABA. With Ramsay at the helm, the Portland Trail Blazers got their first winning season as they posted a 49-33 record. Their starting lineup of Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Lloyd Neal, Dave Twardzik, and Lionel Hollins were good enough to send the Portland Trail Blazers to their first trip to the NBA Playoffs.

Striking for the championship

Although this was the first playoffs for the Portland Trail Blazers, they were not intimidated by the other teams. In the first rounds, the Portland Trail Blazers eliminated the Chicago Bulls and the Denver Nuggets. They would then meet the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers were headlined by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar but, surprisingly, the Portland Trail Blazers were able to sweep them in four games. The team got into the NBA Finals in their first year in the playoffs. They would face the Philadelphia 76ers, whom they would beat for the championship.

In the following year, the Portland Trail Blazers were heavily favored to repeat as champions. However, the team lost Walton to injury thus weakening their shot-blocking need. The Portland Trail Blazers still managed to get into the playoffs but they lost to the Seattle Supersonics in the semi-finals. During the next years, some of the key players of the Portland Trail Blazers left the team, including Bill Walton. Yet, they were still very competitive and would continue to enter the playoffs. Still, they would not be able to reach the NBA Finals as they kept losing during the first and second round of the playoffs.

Selecting the main men

The Portland Trail Blazers continued to pick players which they believed would form the core of their team. They would get Jim Paxson, Fat Lever, Wayne Cooper and T.R. Dunn. In 1983, they would select Clyde Drexler with the 14th pick in that year’s NBA Draft. The Portland Trail Blazers would become known as the team that passed up on Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft. With their 2nd pick, they chose Sam Bowie, who was eventually plagued with injuries during his short NBA career. Other players in that year’s NBA Draft went on to have legendary careers. Aside from Jordan, the 1984 NBA Draft had Charles Barkley and John Stockton. The Houston Rockets had already selected Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick.

More players were added to the Portland Trail Blazers as they continued to rebuild. They would select Terry Porter in the 1985 NBA Draft and would get Arvydas Sabonis and Drazen Petrovic in 1986. The Portland Trail Blazers also fired coach Ramsay and replaced him with Mike Schuler. The new coach led the Portland Trail Blazers to two straight winning seasons and even getting home court advantage. However, they bowed out in the first round against the Houston Rockets in 1987 and the Utah Jazz in 1988. Although the Portland Trail Blazers led the league in scoring, they were among the worst when it came to defense.

The Portland Trail Blazers were having internal problems regarding their starting lineup. By the 1988-1989 season, the team started losing and the veterans had their own issues with the coaching style of Schuler. It was not surprising when the management fired Schuler and replaced him with assistant Rick Adelman. Making changes to their lineup, the Portland Trail Blazers traded Sam Bowie and a draft pick to the New Jersey Nets to get Buck Williams. They would also get Clifford Robinson in the second round of the 1989 NBA Draft. During that season, the Portland Trail Blazers had a 59-23 record, putting them in the playoffs once again. They reached the NBA Finals but were beaten by the Detroit Pistons.

First round disappointments

The team lost Petrovic in the off-season due to free agency. Yet, they were able to replace him with Danny Ainge, a member of 3 Boston Celtics championship teams. The Portland Trail Blazers were able to get a 63-19 record during the 1990-1991 season. They would eventually win the Pacific Division title and get home court advantage throughout the playoffs. However, they were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The following year, they were able to get the Pacific Division title again. They would reach the 1992 NBA Finals but they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games.

After the 1991-1992 season, the Portland Trail Blazers lost Danny Ainge to the Phoenix Suns. To fill the void left by Ainge, the team signed Rod Strickland. The Portland Trail Blazers would have injury problems to Clyde Drexler and they would lose in the first round of the 1993 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs. They would continue having injuries up to the 1993-1994 season as they lost Terry Porter. Even with this string of downed personnel, the Portland Trail Blazers would reach the playoffs, only to be defeated by the Houston Rockets in the first round. The management then fired Rick Adelman and replaced him with P.J. Carlesimo as the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.


Tired of continuously failing in the playoffs, the Portland Trail Blazers tried to shake their lineup. They traded key player Clyde Drexler to get Otis Thorpe from the Houston Rockets. In the 1994-1995 season, the Portland Trail Blazers would reach the playoffs again but would be swept by the Phoenix Suns in the first round. Yet, they now had the full services of Sabonis, who was allowed by the Soviet Union to play fully for the Portland Trail Blazers. The team would continue to knock on the playoff doors for many years, only to be denied in the very first round by various ball clubs.

The Portland Trail Blazers managed to get good seasons behind new acquisitions such as Damon Stoudamire, Brian Grant, Steve Smith, and Scottie Pippen. They were also starting to develop Jermaine O’Neal, a high school phenomenon that was drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1996 NBA Draft. However, many off-court incidents gave the team a new label –the “Jail Blazers.” The team has since shaken off this moniker as a new batch of talents entered the lineup. Headed by Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, the new Portland Trail Blazers are poised to become a strong competitor in the West once again.