Who is Next?
250 players have been lucky enough to wear the Trail Blazers uniform during the 38 seasons of basketball. Since the opening tip of the inaugural season in 1970-71 we as fans have fallen in love with certain personalities, debated who is the best Blazer of all time, and felt the pain of losing our favorite player to trades, free agency, or retirement. But the highest honor the organization can bestow on a player is retiring their number. The Blazers currently have the following numbers retired, next to each player you will see their points per game as a Blazer:
13 Dave Twardzik 9.5 ppg
14 Lionel Hollins 13.6 ppg
15 Larry Steele 8.2 ppg
20 Maurice Lucas 15.6 ppg
22 Clyde Drexler 20.8 ppg
32 Bill Walton 17.1 ppg
36 Lloyd Neal 11.1 ppg
45 Geoff Petrie 21.8 ppg
The Blazers also have retired Larry Weinberg, Dr. Jack, and Bill Schonely as members of the organization.
So the question is….who is next? Of the retired players only Clyde is NOT a member of the ’76-’77 Championship season. Looking at strictly points per game, we can see that a large disparity exists between the players who have been retired. The reason for this is obvious: when a team retires a players number, they don’t simply look at stats like points, rebounds, assists, blocks, etc. They look at the overall impact the player had on the team, the type of person he is, and what he meant to the community. For these reasons, we will never see a player like Zach Randolph have his number retired even though he has some all-time top 10 performances.
When the Blazers shocked the world in 1977 it was a special moment of Portland history. To honor that moment, the Blazers decided to retire the numbers of the main cogs of that wheel. Hence the reason that Twardzik and Steele have their numbers retired when their Blazer stats are not eye-popping.
With this in mind, it leaves the question to be asked…Who should the Blazers retire next? We have compiled a list of players and members of the team that we feel need serious consideration for their on court contributions and their influence to the team and community alike. All references to statistics, records, playing years, and performances are during their Blazer years only.
Jim Paxson: (1979-1988) 16.0 ppg. First Blazer to score 10,000 career points. All NBA second Team ’83-’84. NBA All-Star ’83, ’84. Scored 40 points as a Blazer once. 5th all time in games played (627). 7th all time in minutes played. 5th all time in points scored (10,003). 6th all time assists (2,007). 3rd all time in field goals made (4,058). 10th all time field goal percentage (.503). 6th all time free throws made (1,800). 10th all time free throw percentage (.804). 4th all time steals (857). Oregon Sports Hall of Fame member’98.
Sidney Wicks: (1971-1976) 22.3 ppg. Rookie of the Year ’72. 20 points/20 rebounds 6 times. 7 triple doubles. 10th in NBA scoring in ’72-’73. All-Rookie Team ’71-’72. NBA All-Star ’72, ’73, ’74, ’75. Team record for rebounds in a game (27), and in a quarter (12). Tied for team record in offensive rebounds in a game (11). 8th all time in points scored (8,882). 10th all time assists (1,647). 9th all time in field goals made (3,502). 5th all time free throws made (1,878). 5th all time total rebounds (4,086).
Terry Porter: (1985-1995) 14.9 ppg. 7 triple doubles. J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award winner ’92-’93. 6th and 9th in NBA FG percentage ’89-90 and ’90-’91. 4th and 7th in NBA 3pt percentage in ’90-’91 and ’92-’93. 5th in ’86-’87, 4th in ’87-’88, tied for 7th in ’89-’90 in NBA assists. 10th in NBA steels in ’86-’87. NBA All-Star ’91, ’93. Team leader in 3pt field goal percentage in a game (1.000, 7-7 in ’92). Team record for most points in a quarter (25). Team record for assists in a half (13) and a quarter (10). Scored 40 points 3 times as a Blazer, once during a playoff game. 3rd all time games played (758). Second all time in minutes played (23,978). 2nd all time in points scored (11,330). 1st all time assists (5,319). 2nd all time in filed goals made (4,101). 1st all time 3-pt field goals made (773). 2nd all time free throws made (2,555). 3rd all time free throw percentage (.846). 2nd all time steals (1,182). 2nd all time consecutive games played (198).
Jerome Kersey: (1984-1995) 12.1 ppg. 1 triple double. 2nd all time in games played (831). 3rd all time in minutes played (21,400). 4th all time in points scored (10,067). 8th all time assists (1,762). 4th all time in field goals made (3,981). 3rd all time free throws made (2,071). 2nd all time total rebounds (5,078). 4th all time blocked shots (621). 3rd all time steals (1,059).
Arvydas Sabonis: (1995-01, ’02-’03) 12.0 ppg. 2 20point/20 rebound performances. 7th in NBA field goal percentage in ’95-96. 9th in NBA rebounds ’97-’98. All-Rookie Team ’95-’96. 7th all time total rebounds (3,436). 8th all time blocked shots (422). Just watch the video and tell me a smile does not come across your face.
Mychal Thompson: (1978-1986) 16.8 ppg. 8.9 rebounds. 5 20 point/20 rebound performances. 2 triple doubles. 4th in NBA rebounding ’81-’82. 8th in NBA shot blocks in ’80-’81. All-Rookie Team ’78-’79. Tied for team record for block shots in a game (9). Scored 40 points once as a Blazer during a playoff game. 8th all time in games played (551). 6th all time in minutes played (18,913). 7th all time in points scored (9,215). 7th all time assists (1,848). 7th all time in field goals made (3,777). 9th all time field goal percentage (.505). 8th all time free throws made (1,661). 3rd all time total rebounds (4,878). 1st all time blocked shots (768).
Kiki Vandeweghe: (1984-1989) 23.5 ppg. 6th in NBA scoring ’85-86 and ‘5th in ’86-’87 with. 2nd in NBA free-throw percentage in ’84-85 and 8th, 7th, and 10th in the years of ’85-’86, ’86-’87, and ’88-’89. 1st in 3pt percentage in ’86-’87. Team record for free throws attempted in a game (22), a quarter (14), and tied for 1st in free throws made (18). Scored 48 points in ’87 and 47 in ’84 which are 5th and 8th best single game performances by a Blazer. Scored 40 points as a Blazer 4 times. 4th all time field goals percentage (.526). 9th all time free throws made (1,547). 1st all time free throw percentage (.881).
Kevin Duckworth: (1986-1993) 13.6 ppg. NBA Most Improved Player ’87-’88. NBA All-Star ’89, ’91. 10th all time in points scored (7,188). 10th all time in field goals made (2,848). 10th all time free throws made (1,492). 10th all time total rebounds (3,327).
Buck Williams: (1989-1996) 10.2 ppg. 1 20 points/20 rebound performance. 8th in NBA FG percentage ’89-’90, 1st in ’90-’91 and ’91-’92 (.604). 10th in NBA rebounding ’89-’90. All NBA Defensive 1st team in ’89-’90 and ’90-’91 and 2nd team ’91-’92. 7th all time in games played (557). 1st all time in field goal percentage (.550). 4th all time total rebounds (4,861). 3rd all time consecutive games played (196).
Rick Adelman: (1970-1973) 9.8 ppg. 1983-1989 Blazers assistant coach under Jack Ramsey and Mike Schuler. Took over head coaching duties mid-season in ’89 when Schuler was fired. Served as head coach from ’89-’94. Coached team to NBA Finals in ’90 and ’92 and the Western Conference Finals in ’91. NBA All-Star coach ’91. 5+ years as Blazers head coach with a winning percentage of .654 and .522 in the playoffs. Both of these are better percentages than Dr. Jack. Before coming to the Blazers as an assistant Adelman coached at Chemeketa Community College in Salem.
When looking at the stats above, it is clear that Porter stands out. His career numbers are always near the top 5, mostly top 3, often times being behind Drexler. If you are to compare Porters numbers to that of Twardzik it is not even close….Porter wins out every time. I am not here to bash any former Blazers, but it seems that the organization was quick to hand out retired numbers for the championship team, even if those players did not reside in the top 10 in team statistics all time.
Each player on this list has top 10 statistics. If you hand out retired numbers solely on statistics most on here would make it. That being said, each of these players/coach were important to the squad and the community during their time here. Some, like Porter, attempted to buy the team when Allen put it up for sale. Others like Duck and Kersey reside in the area currently. So what do you base retiring numbers on?
Another factor to consider: if Sidney Wicks was not sold to Boston in 1976 his number would surely be retired due to his contribution to the Championship Team. While only being with the team for a short time, his numbers rival those of Drexler in similar years. It could be argued that if Wicks was not sold, and had been a member of the ’76-’77 team he would have been a Blazer for his entire career and we would not consider Drexler the best Blazer of all time, but Wicks.
When looking at the numbers of players like Sabonis, Duckworth, and Williams we can see flashes of brilliance. For a variety of reasons these players did not play super long periods of time in Portland, but their contributions to the team (for Buck and Duck the ’90-’92 teams, Sabas a distinguished career at Europe, then coming home for one last season in ’02-’03) can’t be overlooked.
When comparing Adelman to Dr. Jack, we see a better winning percentage in both the regular season and playoffs for Adelman. Obviously, Dr. Jack coached longer and that can cause lower statistics….oh ya and he has a ring.
So, the question is posed: Who is next? Who do you feel deserves to have their number retired? Who do you feel should grace the rafters of the Rose Garden with the other Blazer elite? Do you see them on this list, or did we omit them? Make your case.