Our series on the four jerseys fans of every NBA team continues today. It’s Northwest Division week, and today we’re focusing on the Portland Trailblazers. Remember, we’re not just going to list off four popular players in team history. We know that when you’re wearing a jersey, you’re going for a “look.” So every day we’re going to tell you the jersey you’ve got to have, the jersey you can’t go wrong with (in case you can’t find the first one), the jersey that will make people say “Oh, that’s awesome,” and the joke jersey that will have everyone laughing.
After joining the league in 1970 as an expansion team, the Portland Trailblazers have enjoyed a lot of success. They won a championship in just their sixth season, and in the next 26 seasons, they missed the playoffs only once (with two more trips to the Finals). Yet they’ve had their share of disappointments. The Drexler years seemed sure to yield at least one title, but they didn’t. And when Greg Oden fell into their lap, Portland fans thought they had a cornerstone to the future.
But through thick and thin, Blazers fans remain one of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports, much less the NBA. They are fiercely loyal and keen to their history. With that, here are the four jerseys that these incredible fans must have in their collection:
Bill Walton — Walton was an injury waiting to happen, but he pieced together a long enough stretch of injury-free ball to lead Portland to its only NBA title in 1977. And despite an acrimonious ending to his time in Portland, he’ll always be seen as a Blazer (unless you talk to Celtics fans, but that’s a different story). Despite a career full of injuries, he was better than most centers could ever hope to be when they were healthy. His #32 is a must have. Bonus points if you have the long hair tied back with a bandanna and a beard (sans mustache). Double bonus points if you put in on while listening to the Grateful Dead.
Can’t Go Wrong With:
Clyde Drexler — Glide is the reason the Blazers didn’t draft Michael Jordan. When you’ve got a Hall of Fame player at that position, why draft someone that plays the same spot when you have needs elsewhere (more on this in a minute… sorry Blazers fans). Glide earned his nickname, playing a game above the rim with a certain elegance that can’t really be described in any other way. He did seem to glide to the rim. Still don’t believe me? Then look at this photo and come back to me. He’s the franchise’s All-Time leading scorer, and if it weren’t for Jordan, he might have won a ring. Clyde’s #22 is a jersey ANY NBA, not just Portland, fan can wear.
“Oh, That’s Cool”:
Maurice Lucas — While Walton gets the lion’s share of the credit for leading the Blazers to a title in 1977, Lucas led the Blazers in scoring that year and was second to Walton in rebounds per game (Walton averaged 14.4, Lucas 11.4). And he was no cupcake out there, either. He was, despite his aversion to the word, an enforcer. In the championship series, Lucas stood up to Darryl Dawkins after Dawkins threw a punch at his teammates. Some say that moment inspired the Blazers, who lost that game to go down 2-0, but rallied to win the next four games. Lucas passed away last October, leaving a void in the NBA family. So wearing his #20 isn’t just cool, it honors the memory of one of Portland’s most beloved players.
“Oh, That’s Funny”:
Sam Bowie — You know the story by now. Hakeem Olajuwon goes first in the 1984 draft, leaving Michael Jordan on the board (along with Charles Barkley and John Stockton, by the way). But with the second pick, Portland took Sam Bowie. And with that, the Blazers have forever been associated with one of the biggest draft whiffs in NBA history. In four seasons in Portland he played one full year before injuries derailed him. He never lived up to the #2 pick expectations, all the while Jordan, Barkley and Stockton were doing… well… the things they did. But you can still hold your head high with his #31 knowing you will get a laugh out of the jersey… which is probably the most productive thing someone in that #31 will have ever done in Portland
There you have it. The four jerseys Blazers fans have got to have. Disagree with us? Let us know who we missed in the comments.
Atlantic Division: Boston, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto
Central Division: Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Indiana, Milwaukee
Southeast Division: Atlanta, Charlotte, Orlando, Miami, Washington
Pacific Division: Golden State, LA Clippers, LA Lakers, Phoenix, Sacramento
Northwest Division: Denver, Oklahoma City, Minnesota
Jeff Garcia collaborated on this post