Basketball Wiki

The following is a detailed history of the Portland Trail Blazers, a professional basketball team which joined the National Basketball Association in 1970.

Early franchise history[]

On February 6, 1970, the NBA board of governors granted the Blazers franchise, after the Blazers paid $3.7 million to join the league. In that year, the Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) and the Cleveland Cavaliers also joined the league. The team was based around Geoff Petrie, a first round draft choice out of Princeton University, and the 6'10" (2.08 m) tall LeRoy Ellis, whom they acquired in the expansion draft. In their first season, the Blazers finished with a 29-53 record, which was the best out of the three new teams in the NBA. The next year, the Blazers won only 18 games, but rookie Sidney Wicks was named Rookie of the Year. The following year, the team used the first pick in the NBA Draft on LaRue Martin.

The Blazers did not beat their first season's record until they drafted Bill Walton from UCLA in 1974. In the first two years, under coach Lenny Wilkens, the Blazers improved, but still did not post a winning record (nor did they make the playoffs). In the 1976 off-season, Wilkens was fired and replaced with Dr. Jack Ramsay. That off-season, the team acquired forward Maurice Lucas in the dispersal draft that occurred when the American Basketball Association was acquired by the NBA (and several of its teams folded).

1977 championship[]

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In the 1976–77 campaign, the Blazers posted their first winning record, going 49-33 under the leadership of Ramsay. The team—Walton at center, Lucas and Lloyd Neal at forward, and Dave Twardzik and Lionel Hollins at guard—made the playoffs for the first time. The Blazers won the NBA championship in their first time in the playoffs. After defeating the Chicago Bulls (who were a Western Conference team at the time) and the Denver Nuggets (a surviving ABA team) in the early rounds, the Blazers defeated the favored Los Angeles Lakers, led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in four straight games. They then went on to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 4–2 for the championship.

The next season the team raced off to a 50–10 record. However, at that point a rash of injuries set in (most notably to Walton, who would struggle with injuries his entire professional career), and the team finished the season with a 58–24 record. They failed to make it back to the Finals, losing to Seattle (the eventual Western Conference champion) in the conference semis.

The early-mid eighties[]

Despite the loss of several key players due to injury (and a parting-of-the-ways between the team and Walton), the team continued to play competitive basketball. The sellout streak continued. The team continued to make the playoffs every year except for one (1981–1982), and on several occasions advanced past the first round. However, the NBA's Western Conference at that time was dominated by the L.A. Lakers (with a few Finals appearances by the Houston Rockets).

In the 1978 draft, the Blazers (for the third time in their history) landed the #1 pick in the draft; and selected Mychal Thompson, a center originally from the Bahamas. Over the next several years; the team acquired several other players who many thought could form the nucleus of a championship contender—Jim Paxson, T. R. Dunn, Fat Lever, and Wayne Cooper. In 1983, the team selected Clyde Drexler, who would go on to a Hall of Fame career (eventually winning an NBA title with Houston).

In 1984, the Blazers used their #2 pick to draft center Sam Bowie, bypassing Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton. Bowie suffered a series of leg injuries that limited his production for the team. The same year, the team drafted forward Jerome Kersey. That summer, the team sent Dunn, Lever, Cooper, and a draft pick to the Denver Nuggets for forward Kiki Vandeweghe.

In 1985, the team selected point guard Terry Porter in the draft.

After several consecutive seasons of losing in the first round, the Ramsay Era ended in the summer of 1986 when the long-time coach was fired and replaced with Mike Schuler.

Summer of 1986[]

In the first round of the draft, the Blazers (who had two picks) selected forward Walter Berry out of St. John's and center Arvydas Sabonis out of the Soviet Union. Later in the draft, the team reached behind the Iron Curtain again, and chose guard Dražen Petrović from what was then Yugoslavia. Drafting two players from the Eastern Bloc was highly controversial—the Cold War was still going on, and many doubted that either player would be permitted to come play in the NBA. (The selection of Sabonis would become even more controversial in 1988, when the Lithuanian center was allowed to come to Portland to train, and then led the Soviet Union to a gold medal in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.)

After only a few months with the team, Berry was traded to the San Antonio Spurs for another rookie, center Kevin Duckworth.

The Mike Schuler era[]

Mike Schuler was hired prior to the start of the 1986–87 season as Head Coach of the Blazers. In his first two campaigns, the Schuler-led Blazers posted records of 49-33 (in 1986–87) and 53–29 (in 1987–88). Both teams made the playoffs (with home court advantage) but were defeated in the first round (to Houston in 1987, and to the Utah Jazz in 1988). In both years, the Blazers were among league leaders in scoring, but near the bottom of league rankings in defense and rebounding statistics.

The Schuler era was marked by several controversies regarding the starting lineup. The first such controversy occurred when Clyde Drexler won the starting guard spot over veteran Jim Paxson, who subsequently demanded (and got) a trade; eventually traded to Boston for Jerry Sichting. In the 1987-88 campaign, veteran center Steve Johnson was injured, and was replaced in the lineup by Duckworth, who went on to win the starting job from the foul-prone Johnson. As the team was winning, these controversies were glossed over at first.

The season of change[]

At the conclusion of the 1987-88 campaign, the team was purchased by (current owner) Paul Allen. The team quickly fell apart during the year, as the issue of who should start became paramount. In addition, many veterans were unhappy with Mike Schuler's coaching style[citation needed]; as a result the team limped to a 39–43 record and barely made the playoffs (where it was ousted by the Lakers 3–0 in the first round). Schuler was fired; assistant Rick Adelman was given the head coaching job on an interim basis.

That summer, Sam Bowie and a draft pick were traded to the New Jersey Nets for veteran forward Buck Williams, a respectable defensive and rebounding power forward. Vandeweghe was sent to the New York Knicks for a draft pick, and Johnson was taken by the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves in the expansion draft. DraÏen Petroviç was permitted by the Yugoslav authorities to come to Portland and join the team. For the second round of the draft, Portland selected a young forward from UConn, Clifford Robinson.

Return to the finals[]

With the exception of the championship year of 1976–77 (and the following season), the early nineties is generally regarded as the greatest era in team history[citation needed]. In the 1989–90 campaign, the team posted a 59–23 record, and defeated the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference playoffs. The team was ultimately defeated by the defending champion Detroit Pistons, led by Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas 4–1.

That off-season, Petroviç joined the New Jersey Nets, where he would perform at an All-Star level[1] before his premature death in an auto accident in 1993. To replace him, the team signed free agent guard Danny Ainge, who had won three titles with the Boston Celtics in the 80s. In the 1990–91 season, the Blazers posted a 63-19 record - the best in the league and the best in franchise history. They ended the Lakers' nine-year reign over the Pacific Division and won home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. The season ended when the Lakers defeated the Blazers 4-2 in the Western Conference finals.

In the 1991-92 campaign, the Blazers repeated as Pacific champions. They steamrolled through the Western Conference playoffs en route to a showdown with the Chicago Bulls in the Finals—one that they would lose 4-2, and which cemented the reputations of both Jordan and Drexler (placing the latter firmly in the former's shadow).

End of the Adelman era[]

After the 1991–92 campaign, Ainge left for Phoenix and became a major player in the Suns' run to the finals in the following season. To replace him in the backcourt, the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard Rod Strickland, who was a rather controversial player.[2][3]

A series of injuries and other issues started to plague the team. Kevin Duckworth's performance dropped off significantly. Drexler, Kersey, and Buck Williams also started showing signs of age; Drexler and Kersey missed a combined 50 games due to injury. Despite this, the team posted a 51-31 record. A bright spot was the continuing emergence of Clifford Robinson; "Uncle Cliffy" was awarded the Sixth Man Award.

The team failed to advance in the playoffs, losing to David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

Two other events occurred in the team in the 1992–93 season. Owner Paul Allen started breaking ground on the Rose Garden, which would replace the Memorial Coliseum, which was the Blazers’ home court at the time.

On a far more negative note was the infamous "Blazer Sex Scandal." While on a road trip to Utah, several members of the team were charged by a Utah prosecutor with statutory rape. Eventually, four players, including Jerome Kersey, received suspensions from the team; the criminal charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.[4]

In the 1993-94 campaign, Terry Porter suffered an injury and was replaced in the starting lineup with Strickland. Duckworth was traded in the off-season to the Washington Bullets for forward Harvey Grant. To replace Duckworth, center Chris Dudley was signed to a one-year contract (a deal which incurred the wrath of NBA commissioner David Stern who viewed it as an attempt to circumvent the league's salary cap—the Blazers prevailed in arbitration over the matter[citation needed]). Portland went 49-33 and was eliminated by eventual champion Houston in the first round. Adelman was fired and replaced with Seton Hall coach P. J. Carlesimo.

Bob Whitsitt era[]

The 1994-95 season was also the first in the reign of "Trader" Bob Whitsitt. At the time, Whitsitt was viewed (throughout the NBA) as one of the brightest executives in the league[citation needed]. He was a master of the salary cap (and other details of the collective bargaining agreement[citation needed] between the NBA and its players) and was widely viewed as the prime architect of the Seattle SuperSonics. After a falling-out with Sonics' owner Barry Ackerley,[citation needed] Whitsitt was hired by Paul Allen and set about rebuilding the team.

The 1994-95 campaign was the last for a key member of the Blazers' squad for the previous 11 years: Drexler was traded in the middle of the season to the Houston Rockets for Otis Thorpe and a draft pick (where he, along with center Hakeem Olajuwon would lead the Rockets to a second consecutive NBA title). His number was retired in 2001, and he is widely regarded as one of the best Blazers ever along with Bill Walton. The 1994–95 campaign was also the last year in the Memorial Coliseum.

The Blazers that year were an above-average defensive team but a poor offensive one.[citation needed] They posted a 44–38 record and were swept by Phoenix in the first round of the playoffs.

The next year (1995–96), the team moved into their new home, the Rose Garden. The team was led in scoring by Robinson; that year also saw Lithuanian center Arvydas Sabonis join the Blazers nearly ten years after he was drafted by the team (he was originally drafted in 1986, but was barred by Soviet authorities from going to the United States). Sabonis, although a shadow of his former self due to age and injury[citation needed], was still a dominating force in the middle for the team. However, the season also saw the rise of tensions between Carlesimo and Strickland; Strickland disliked Carlesimo's rather vocal and intense style[citation needed].

The 1995–96 Blazers posted an identical 44-38 record that year, and were defeated by Utah 3-2 in the first round. In game five against the Jazz, the Blazers were defeated 102–64, setting a record (since broken, ironically by the Jazz) for the fewest points scored in a playoff game. The season marked the last in Portland for forward Buck Williams, an important member of the team's two Finals runs.

Whitsitt makes his mark[]

The 1996 off-season was yet another eventful one for the Trail Blazers. Strickland demanded a trade[citation needed] and got one, being sent to Washington (along with Harvey Grant) for forward Rasheed Wallace. A second trade brought guard Isaiah Rider from Minnesota. To replace Strickland, the Blazers signed playground legend Kenny Anderson to a free-agent contract. In the draft that year, the team selected a high school player, Jermaine O'Neal.

To some, this represented the influx of young talent the Blazers, who had been a rather ordinary team in previous years, needed to return to the ranks of the league powers[citation needed]. To others, the moves represented a disturbing new trend of placing talent above character[citation needed]. Wallace had a well-established reputation as a hothead[citation needed]. In addition, the drafting of high schooler O'Neal was a controversial move.[citation needed] However, the moves worked initially, as the Blazers improved on their prior record, winning 49 games. The playoff results were the same, however: a first round loss, this time to the Lakers. Carlesimo was fired and replaced with Mike Dunleavy.

One other long-time fixture with the Blazers left the team as well. Clifford Robinson, widely blamed for recent playoff failures[citation needed] (in part due to a noticeable decline in his performance in the playoffs) was allowed to leave as a free agent during the 1997 off-season.

Mighty mouse[]

In addition to Dunleavy, the 1997–98 campaign saw two other important new faces: forward Brian Grant who was signed as a free agent in the off-season, and guard Damon Stoudamire, who was acquired in a mid-season trade with the Toronto Raptors. In his first NBA seasons with Toronto, the Portland native won Rookie of the Year honors and posted All-Star quality numbers for the Raptors, and reminded many of a young Isiah Thomas.[citation needed] Many expected that "Mighty Mouse" would become the franchise player the team had lacked since Drexler left.[citation needed]

The Blazers finally seemed to jell in 1998-99 (a lockout-shortened season). The team finished with the second best record in the Western Conference, posting a 35–15 record. The Blazers eliminated Phoenix and Utah in the playoffs before being swept by the eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs. In the 1999 off-season, Rider was traded to the Atlanta Hawks for sharp-shooting guard Steve Smith. Second, the Blazers traded a collection of bench players to Houston for Scottie Pippen. It was widely believed that these players would lead Portland to a return to glory.[citation needed]

Led by Stoudamire, Smith, Pippen, Wallace, Sabonis and sixth man Grant, the Blazers finished with the second-best record in the league, behind only the Lakers. They returned to the Western Conference finals, where they played against the Lakers. The Lakers, led on the floor by Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal and coached by Phil Jackson, split the first two games in Los Angeles with the Blazers. The Lakers then took two straight from the Blazers in Portland. The Blazers then came back to win Games 5 and 6. The Blazers were leading by 15 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7 at Los Angeles, before the Lakers came back and won the series in a 4th-quarter rally reminiscent of Game 6 against the Bulls almost ten years ago. The Lakers went on to win the first of three consecutive NBA titles with Shaq, Kobe, and Jackson at the helm.

The bloom falls off the rose[]

That summer, Brian Grant was traded to the Miami Heat in a three-team deal that brought Shawn Kemp from the Cleveland Cavaliers. The move reunited Whitsitt with the player that first allowed him to make a splash in NBA front-office circles.

A second problem perceived was the need to have more “big bodies” to defend against Shaquille O'Neal;[citation needed] as a result, forward/center Jermaine O'Neal was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Dale Davis. This trade is widely regarded as a disaster for the Blazers, as O'Neal has since become an All-Star while Davis had several serviceable years in Portland. Third, Steve Smith requested and got a trade to San Antonio for guard Derek Anderson. Finally, the Blazers signed free agent forward Ruben Patterson.

With the new lineup, the team won 42 of their first 60 games. After Wells suffered a season-ending injury, however, the team was swept in three games by the Lakers.

The Cheeks era[]

Dunleavy was fired and replaced with Philadelphia 76ers assistant and Hall of Fame guard Maurice Cheeks. He had a reputation as a "players coach" (he was successful working with Allen Iverson).

A few other key additions to the team were made in 2001. In the draft, the team selected Zach Randolph, who would later start at forward (though not in the 2001–02).

However, Cheeks had numerous run-ins with Stoudamire; the latter had a reputation for shooting first and passing second, much like Iverson. The result of the season was the same as the previous season: a three-game sweep at the hands of the Lakers.

For the 2002–03 season, Arvydas Sabonis returned to the team. However, the relationship between Cheeks and Stoudamire worsened to the point where Cheeks benched Stoudamire and started Pippen at "point forward" (alongside Wells). Wallace received a 7-game suspension for threatening a referee after a game. The team barely made the playoffs and drew the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The Blazers quickly dropped a 3–0 lead to the Mavericks, and in the process suffered several key injuries. But the Blazers won the next three to force game 7, which they ended up losing. That playoff series was also remembered for the "national anthem" incident, in which a young girl who was to sing the Star Spangled Banner before one of the games forgot the words, and Cheeks helped her sing the tune.

At the end of the season, Pippen signed with the Chicago Bulls and Sabonis retired from the NBA. Bob Whitsitt resigned his position with the Blazers on May 7, 2003, stating that he wanted to focus his attention on the Seattle Seahawks NFL team, also owned by Paul Allen. The team's numerous off-court troubles, meanwhile, resurrected the nickname 'Jail Blazers'.

To replace Whitsitt, the team hired Steve Patterson as team president on June 18, 2003 and announced that John Nash would become general manager on July 15.

The Patterson/Nash era[]

Patterson and Nash immediately began a campaign to clean up the team's image. A "25 point pledge" was announced and published, describing a standard of conduct that all Blazer personnel would be required to live up to. The Blazers' draft choice that year, Travis Outlaw, was the son of a police officer and had a spotless record.

Not long after the 2003-04 season started, Bonzi Wells launched a tirade at Cheeks during practice[citation needed]; he was suspended and soon traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for Wesley Person and a first round pick. Soon after that, Rasheed Wallace gave an extended interview in which he claimed that the NBA exploited African American players. This interview was widely denounced by the team, the media, and the league, but no official punishment resulted.

During the season, two other "character" trades occurred. Point guard Jeff McInnis, considered by many to be disruptive in the locker room[citation needed], was sent to Cleveland with Ruben Boumtje Boumtje for forward Darius Miles and cash. Wallace was sent to the Atlanta Hawks along with Person for forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, center Theo Ratliff and Dan Dickau. Many of these trades were welcomed by the fan base,[citation needed] but they were disruptive to team chemistry: the Wallace trade occurred during a "hot streak", after the trade was commenced the hot streak abruptly ended. The team posted a 41-41 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1981. The Blazers' 21 straight playoff appearances was an NBA record and one short of the all-time record of 22 years in US professional team sports, held by the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League.

Last year of the Cheeks era[]

The team selected Sebastian Telfair, a high-school player from New York, with its first draft pick. The team also selected two European players, Viktor Khryapa and Sergei Monia, with later picks, as well as Korean center Ha Seung-Jin in the second round. Three players—Miles, Ratliff, and Zach Randolph— were given large contract extensions in the summer of 2004. Davis, who had grown increasingly disgruntled in Portland, was traded to the Golden State Warriors for also-disgruntled guard Nick Van Exel, and center Joel Przybilla was signed to a free agent contract.

When the season started, the Blazers stumbled out of the gate. The starting lineup consisted of Ratliff, Randolph, Abdur-Rahim, Stoudamire, and Anderson. For the early part of the season, the team played mostly a .500 ball game, but there were numerous complaints and chemistry issues. There were numerous line-up experiments over the course of the season, as Cheeks looked for a winning combination, but the team never won more than two games in a row the entire season. In addition, injuries took their toll—Anderson, Abdur-Rahim, and Randolph all logged significant minutes on the injured list. In addition, the bankruptcy of the Rose Garden became a major distraction.

The frustrations came to a boiling point when during a practice, Darius Miles launched into an obsencity-laced tirade against his coach in full view of other players (as well as a few reporters). The tirade included various racial slurs (both Cheeks and Miles are African American), as well as the claim that Cheeks was a lame-duck coach; thus Miles had no reason to listen to him.[citation needed] The team reacted with a 2-game suspension for Miles. The incident took a strange turn when a memo was leaked about a proposed settlement between Miles and the team, in which the team would agree to refund (to Miles) the pay forfeited as a result of the two-game suspension. Blazers management's position was that the memo was only a draft, and that this practice was business as usual in the NBA—[citation needed] the terms of the collective bargaining agreement made it difficult for teams to enforce fines against players without them being overturned by arbitrators. A subsequent investigation by The Wall Street Journal did reveal that the practice of publicly punishing players and privately rescinding the punishment is indeed common in the league.

At any rate, Miles' prediction was accurate. On March 2, 2005, Cheeks was fired and replaced on an interim basis by director of player personnel Kevin Pritchard. More playing time was given to a cast of young players including Telfair, Travis Outlaw, Khryapa, Pryzbilla, and Ha. The team qualified for the lottery.

Arrival of Nate McMillan: 2005–present[]

In July 2005, the Blazers announced the hiring of Nate McMillan as their new head basketball coach, ending a several-month-long search. Other candidates for the position included Marc Iavaroni, Terry Porter, and Lionel Hollins.[citation needed]

The Blazers won the #3 pick in the 2005 draft. On draft day, however, the team traded the pick to the Utah Jazz for the #6 and #27 picks in the 2005 draft, and a conditional pick in the 2006 draft (belonging initially to the Detroit Pistons). The Blazers used the #6 pick to draft Martell Webster. The 27th pick was used to draft Linas Kleiza, and the 35th pick (the Blazers' own) was used to draft Ricky Sánchez. The 27th and 35th picks were traded on draft night for the Denver Nuggets #22 pick, Jarrett Jack.

2005–2006 season[]

Several controversies arose during the 2005–06 season. Sebastian Telfair, who replaced Damon Stoudamire as the starting point guard had issues with McMillan.[citation needed] Forward Ruben Patterson engaged in several public power struggles with McMillan and earned a lengthy suspension from the team. Zach Randolph, recovering from a knee injury, was criticized for his alleged poor play and work ethic.[citation needed] Darius Miles also had issues with McMillan, including a game where he changed into street clothes at halftime in protest of lack of playing time. Both Miles and Randolph publicly requested trades, though Randolph has since apologized. In May 2006, Miles gave an interview with The Oregonian reporter Jason Quick in which he admitted to coming to practice with alcohol on his breath.[5] Telfair, Miles, Randolph, Theo Ratliff, and Joel Przybilla also spent significant minutes out with injuries. The Blazers finished the season 21–61, the worst in the NBA, and landed the fourth pick in the 2006 NBA Draft.

Financial difficulties[]

Since the end of the 2003 season, after which Bob Whitsitt resigned, the team has been public about its desire to cut costs. Several players viewed by many as "assets" were traded for not much in return, and/or allowed to depart via free agency with no attempt to re-sign them.[citation needed] Oregon Arena Corp., the Blazers' sister company, declared bankruptcy in 2004. Because of the bankruptcy, owner Paul Allen lost control of the Rose Garden, which was turned over to the creditors.[6]

In February 2006, team management went public with the claim that without the revenue from the Rose Garden, the Blazers have found it difficult to turn a profit.[7]

NBA Commissioner David Stern stated, "My goal on behalf of the league would be to keep the team in Portland, playing in the Rose Garden, with economic prospects that make some financial sense." The Blazers are contractually obligated to play in the Rose Garden until 2023.[8] However, some believe a bankruptcy filing, were it to occur, and might eliminate any restrictions on the team's ability to relocate.[citation needed] Allen put the Blazers up for sale during the season, receiving several bids for the franchise, but took it off the market in August 2006.

Rebirth in 2007[]

In the spring of 2007, Steve Patterson resigned as team president,[9] and Paul Allen entered into an agreement to re-purchase the Rose Garden.[10] On the court, the team finished with a 32–50 record, an 11-game improvement, and rookie Brandon Roy was named the 2006–07 Rookie of the Year.[11] That summer Pritchard was promoted to general manager,[12] and former Nike Inc. executive Larry Miller was hired as team president. The Blazers won the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery and selected Ohio State center Greg Oden with the #1 pick in the draft. Many had speculated that they might choose Kevin Durant instead[13]; Durant was picked at #2 by local rivals the Seattle SuperSonics. Oden suffered a pre-season knee injury requiring microfracture surgery, and missed the entire 2007–08 season.[14]

Despite this, the Trail Blazers had a 13-game winning streak that began in early December, resulting in a 13–2 record, an NBA best for the month of December. McMillan won NBA Coach of the Month honors, and Roy garnered NBA Western Conference Player of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks (the first Trail Blazer to accomplish the feat since Clyde Drexler in the 1990–91 season). Roy was also named as a reserve for the 2008 NBA All-Star Game, the first All-Star for the Blazers since Rasheed Wallace in 2001.[15] The Blazers finished the season 41–41, their best record since the 2003–04 season.

Trail Blazers vs. The Oregonian[]

Relations between the team and The Oregonian have often been tense; the paper is editorially independent of the team and is often critical. During the Steve Patterson era, relations between the two institutions became increasingly hostile; several NBA executives told ESPN's Chris Sheridan that the situation was the "most dysfunctional media-team relationship" that they could recall.[16] Much of the hostility started after an incident in which forward Darius Miles called coach Maurice Cheeks an ethnic slur in 2005, and was suspended for two games, an amount many fans considered to be insufficient.[17] A proposed agreement was negotiated behind-the-scenes between the team and the player to refund much of his fine provided he drop appeals to the players' union. Details of this agreement were leaked to Oregonian columnist John Canzano,[18] who reported the existence of the agreement in his column, criticizing the team for its apparent duplicity.[19] The Trail Blazers denied that such an agreement was in the works, at which point the paper published the leaked memo online;[16] the team would later claim that the memo came from Miles' agent.[17]

The relationship between the paper and the team continued to deteriorate over the following year.[16] In May 2006, the team instituted a new policy requiring that it be permitted to record all interviews of team players and staff, including the right to post transcripts or recordings on the team website.[20] Prior to the 2006 NBA Draft, a group of reporters was invited to a pre-draft workout the team was holding. During a portion of the workout which was closed to the media, Oregonian reporter looked through a curtain separating the press from the workout, and observed Gonzaga University star Adam Morrison, then considered a likely draft prospect for the team, playing poorly; he wrote about this on his blog.[21] The team was outraged, and published a scathing criticism of Quick on its website; closing subsequent practices to the press altogether.[22] John Canzano responded with outrage on this blog, called the team "paranoid", and referred to Art Sasse, the Blazers' VP of communications, as a "henchman" and "Steve Patterson's personal bootlicker".[23] Henry Abbott of ESPN blog TrueHoop commented that the team had gone "off the deep end", noting that "[t]here has never been a team of any kind, in the history of eternity, that won over the public while declaring war on the reporters covering the team."[24]

In November 2006, the Oregonian commissioned an outside editor, Craig Lancaster of the San Jose Mercury-News, to investigate the deteriorating relationship between the paper and the team's management,[25] a move the rival Willamette Week called "unusual".[26] In the report,[27] Lancaster criticized both sides somewhat, but did not make any revelations which were unexpected.[26] Canzano referred to the piece as "ill conceived" and a "waste of space"; the team found the article unsatisfying as well.[26]

Fan support and "Blazermania"[]

Trail Blazers regular season
attendance figures, 1970-2007[28]
Year Total Average # Games Notes
1970-71 245,383 6,135 41 Inaugural season
1971-72 279,506 6,988 41
1972-73 333,480 8,134 41
1973-74 327,495 7,988 41
1974-75 441,506 10,768 41 First season with Bill Walton
1975-76 413,992 10,097 41
1976-77 499,302 12,178 41 Won NBA title. Sellout streak starts
1977-78 to 1987-88 519,306 12,666 41
1988-89 527,008 12,854 41 Seating added to Memorial Coliseum
1989-90 528,244 12,884 41 Advanced to NBA Finals
1990-91 528,244 12,884 41 Won Pacific Division
1991-92 528,408 12,888 41 Advanced to NBA Finals
1992-93 528,408 12,888 41
1993-94 528,408 12,888 41
1994-95 529,759 12,921 41 Includes attendance for one game played in Yokohama, Japan[29]
1995-96 850,338 20,740 41 First season in Rose Garden; Sellout streak ends
1996-97 852,799 20,800 41
1997-98 843,647 20,577 41
1998-99 486,556 19,462 25 Lockout-shortened season; Advance to Western Finals
1999-00 835,078 20,368 41 Advance to Western Finals
2000-01 831,376 20,277 41
2001-02 797,821 19,459 41
2002-03 796,258 19,421 41
2003-04 684,038 16,684 41 No playoffs
2004-05 680,374 16,594 41 No playoffs; RG Bankruptcy filed
2005-06 617,199 15,053 41 No playoffs; NBA's worst record (21-61)
2006-07 670,778 16,360 41 No playoffs
2007-08 580,017 19,334 30 Greg Oden (#1 selection) injured for the whole season
2008-09 Team marketing changes to reflect the entire Pacific Northwest; loses archrival team.

The relationship between the team and its fans, commonly known as "Blazermania", has been well-chronicled. The Trail Blazers have long been one of the NBA's top draws, with the exception of two periods in the team's history. The team drew poorly during its first four seasons of existence, failing to average more than 10,000 spectators per game. Attendance increased in 1974, when the team drafted Bill Walton.[30]

The phenomenon known as Blazermania started during the 1976-1977 season, when the team would post its first winning record, make its first playoff appearance—and capture its only NBA title, defeating the heavily-favored Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA Finals; the team has been wildly popular in Portland since that time.[31][32] That season, the team started their famous sellout streak which would continue until the team moved into the Rose Garden in 1995.[33] The team continued to average over 19,000 spectators per game until the 2003-04 season.

Attendance declined significantly in the 2003-04 season, as the team continued to suffer image problems due to the "Jail Blazer" reputation it had gained, and was no longer competitive on the court.[34] Writing for the New York Times, NBA columnist Chris Broussard remarked that Blazermania was "dead".[35] A series of management miscues, including the Rose Garden arena bankruptcy took a further toll on attendance, and the team posted two straight seasons with less than thirty wins, including the worst campaign of the 2005-06 NBA season with 21 wins and 61 losses.[36] After drafting eventual Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy in 2006, attendance climbed a bit in the 2006-07 season, as the team was more competitive and posted a 32-50 record. Many expect that the selection of Greg Oden in the 2007 NBA Draft will cause attendance to increase.[37] Prior to his season-ending knee surgery, season ticket sales were markedly up. Even with Oden on crutches on the sideline, the team's 2007-08 home opener, a 93–90 victory over the New Orleans Hornets, was a sellout.[38] The season culminated in 32 sold-out home games, of which the final 27 home games were consecutive sell-outs.

List of coaches[]

The complete list of Trail Blazers' head coaches, and their tenures, is as follows:[39]

  • Rolland Todd, 1970–1972
  • Stu Inman, 1972 (interim)
  • Jack McCloskey, 1972–1974
  • Lenny Wilkens, 1974–1976
  • Dr. Jack Ramsay, 1976–1986
  • Mike Schuler, 1986–1989
  • Rick Adelman, 1989 (interim), 1989–1994
  • P. J. Carlesimo, 1994–1997
  • Mike Dunleavy, 1997–2001
  • Maurice Cheeks, 2001–2005
  • Kevin Pritchard, 2005 (interim)
  • Nate McMillan, 2005–present

Among Trail Blazers' assistants who have served as head coaches elsewhere in the NBA are Dick Harter, Mike D'Antoni, Bill Musselman and Rick Carlisle. Two former UNLV men's basketball coaches, Bill Bayno and Tim Grgurich, have served on the Blazers' coaching staff.

Records vs. opponents[]

for the 1970–71 season through the 1980–81 season

Team W L PCT OT Postseason
San Antonio Spurs 9 9 .000 2–1
Chicago Bulls 24 30 .000 2–0 2–1
Miami Heat 0 0 .000 0–0
Milwaukee Bucks 15 36 .000 1–1
Boston Celtics 13 27 .000 1–1
Sacramento Kings 29 26 .000 2–2 1–2
Detroit Pistons 21 24 .000 2–0
Golden State Warriors 29 32 .000 3–1
Houston Rockets 15 30 .000 0–1
Oklahoma City Thunder 28 44 .000 1–2 3–6
Los Angeles Lakers 30 35 .000 1–1 4–0
Philadelphia 76ers 20 25 .000 0–1 4–2
Atlanta Hawks 16 24 .000 1–0
New York Knicks 18 22 .000 0–1
Phoenix Suns 24 40 .000 0–3 1–2
Utah Jazz 14 17 .000 0–1
Dallas Mavericks 4 1 .000 0–0
Indiana Pacers 10 6 .000 1–0
Washington Wizards 16 22 .000 1-0
New Jersey Nets 10 4 .000 0-1
Orlando Magic 0 0 .000 0-0
Cleveland Cavaliers 30 20 .000 1-0
Los Angeles Clippers 33 25 .000 3-1
Denver Nuggets 17 12 .000 0-1 4–2
New Orleans Hornets 0 0 .000 0-0
Minnesota Timberwolves 0 0 .000 0-0
Memphis Grizzlies 0 0 .000 0-0
Toronto Raptors 0 0 .000 0-0
Charlotte Bobcats 0 0 .000 0-0


  1., 1993 All-Star Game Boxscore: West 135, East 132 (OT)
  2. "Rod Strickland Bio". Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  3. "Rick Adelman: 'It's an even matchup'". Portland Tribune. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  4. Willamette Week | 25th Anniversary Issue | 1993
  5. Jason Quick (2006-04-21). "The Miles Interview". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  6. Matt Cunningham (2004-11-18). "Global Spectrum Takes Over At the Rose Garden". Entertainment Management Online at MSU. Retrieved 2010-04-13. 
  9. "Tod Leiweke to Assume Management Oversight for the Portland Trail Blazers". Portland Trail Blazers. March 1, 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-23. 
  10. "Vulcan Inc. completes acquisition of Rose Garden arena (PRESS RELEASE)" (PDF). 2007-04-02. 
  11. "Trail Blazers’ Brandon Roy Named 2006-07 T-Mobile NBA Rookie of the Year". (National Basketball Association). 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  12. "Kevin Pritchard named general manager of Trail Blazers". Portland Trail Blazers website. Portland Trail Blazers. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  13. Freeman, Joe (June 22, 2007). "Durant wows Blazers". Retrieved January 27, 2009. 
  14. "Oden's recovery from surgery likely in range of 6-12 months". 2007-09-14. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  15. "'Brandon Roy Named Western Conference All-Star'". Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 Chris Sheridan (2006-11-17). "Blazers owner foresees a "few turns in the road"". ESPN. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Kerry Eggers (2005-02-11). "Blazers clean up memo fallout". Portland Tribune. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  18. Greg Sandoval (2005-02-09). "Trail Blazers surrounded by controversy". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  19. John Canzano (2005-02-09). "Blazers' most unsettling idea yet". The Oregonian. 
  20. John Canzano (2006-05-17). "Blazers want to be message and messenger". The Oregonian. 
  21. Henry Abbott (2006-06-15). "Adam Morrison vs. Rudy Gay vs. Brandon Roy vs. Hassan Adams". TrueHoop. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  22. Casey Holdahl (2006-06-16). "Team shuts media out". Blazers blog. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  23. John Canzano (2006-06-16). "The Blazers...hit a new low". John Canzano's weblog. The Oregonian. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  24. Henry Abbott (2006-06-18). "Blazers off the deep end". TrueHoop. ESPN. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  25. Henry Abbott (2006-10-26). "Craig Lancaster describes his Oregonian story". TrueHoop. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Nigel Jaquiss (2006-11-08). "Blazer Gazers". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  27. Craig Lancaster (2006-11-05). "A difference of perspective: The Oregonian v. Blazers". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  28. "Portland Trail Blazers attendance". Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  29. "Season will open in Japan". Seattle SuperSonics official website. NBA. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  30. Dwight Jaynes (2007-06-12). "When we fell hard". (ESPN). Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  31. David Higdon. "Blazermania". NBA Encyclopedia: Playoff edition. National Basketball Association. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  32. Template:Cite book
  33. "Company History: Portland Trail Blazers". Funding Universe. 2003. Retrieved 2007-10-24. 
  34. L. Jon Wertheim (2001-12-24). "Losing their grip". (Sports Illustrated). Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  35. Chris Broussard (2003-12-22). "In Portland, Toast of the Town Goes Belly Up". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  36. Kerry Eggers (2005-02-01). "Rose Garden numbers don't add up". Portland Tribune. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  37. J. A. Adande (2007-10-12). "Hope is on hold as Blazers deal with health concerns". (ESPN). Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  38. Mike Barrett (2007-11-08). "Blazes drop New Orleans". Mike Barrett's blog. Portland Trail Blazers. Retrieved 2007-11-08. 
  39. "Portland Trail Blazers coaches". Retrieved 2007-11-08. 

Template:Portland Trail Blazers seasons

External links[]