|Portland Trail Blazers|
The Portland Trail Blazers, commonly known as the Blazers, are an American professional basketball team based in Portland, Oregon. They play in the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The Trail Blazers originally played their home games in the Memorial Coliseum, before moving to the Moda Center in 1995 (called the Rose Garden until 2013). Based in Portland throughout its existence, the franchise entered the league in 1970, and is one of only two major league franchises in Oregon. The franchise has also enjoyed a strong following; from 1977 through 1995, the team sold out 814 consecutive home games, the longest such streak in American major professional sports at the time, and only since surpassed by the Boston Red Sox. The Trail Blazers are the only NBA team based in the bi-national Pacific Northwest, after the Vancouver Grizzlies relocated to Memphis and became the Memphis Grizzlies in 2001 and the Seattle SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City and became the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
The team has advanced to the NBA Finals three times, winning the NBA Championship once, in 1977 against the Philadelphia 76ers. The other NBA Finals appearances were in 1990 and 1992 against the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, respectively, losing both. The team has qualified for the playoffs in 34 seasons of their 48-season existence, including a streak of 21 straight appearances from 1983 through 2003. Six Hall of Fame players have played for the Trail Blazers (Lenny Wilkens, Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler, Dražen Petrović, Arvydas Sabonis, and Scottie Pippen). Bill Walton is the franchise's most decorated player; he was the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player in 1977, and the regular season MVP the following year. Four Blazer rookies (Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, Brandon Roy, and Damian Lillard) have won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. Two Hall of Fame coaches, Lenny Wilkens and Jack Ramsay, have patrolled the sidelines for the Blazers, and two others, Mike Schuler and Mike Dunleavy, have won the NBA Coach of the Year award with the team.
- 1 Arenas
- 2 Name and branding
- 3 History
- 4 Season-by-season results
- 5 Rivalries
- 6 Players
- 7 Franchise and NBA records
- 8 Records vs. Opponents
- 9 Front office
- 10 Venue
- 11 Fan support and "Blazermania"
- 12 Media
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Name and branding
The team has been known as the "Trail Blazers" throughout its history. Two weeks after being awarded an expansion franchise in 1970, team management held a contest to select the team's name. More than 10,000 entries were submitted. The most popular choice was "Pioneers", but that name was excluded from consideration as it was already used by sports teams at Portland's Lewis and Clark College. The name "Trail Blazers" received 172 entries, and was selected as the name.
The team's colors are red, white, black, and silver, which was added in 2002. The team's "pinwheel" logo, originally designed by the cousin of former Blazer executive Harry Glickman, is a graphic interpretation of two five-on-five basketball teams lined up against each other. One side of the pinwheel is rendered in red; the other side is rendered in a monochrome color (black, silver, or white). The logo has gone from a vertical alignment to a slanted one over time.
Portland's home uniforms are white in color, with red, black, and silver accents; the primary road uniform is black, with red, white, and sliver accents. The alternate road uniform is red with white, silver, and black accents. From 1970 to the 1977–78 season, the team wore red road uniforms, switching to black in that year. The team again wore red during the 1984–85 season, switching back to black road jerseys after that. In 2002, the team reintroduced red jerseys.
The team's mascot is Blaze the Trail Cat, a two-tone silver-colored mountain lion, which has been the team's official mascot since 2002. Prior to Blaze's debut, the Trail Blazers never had any official mascot. A popular unofficial mascot was the late Bill "The Beerman" Scott, a Seattle beer vendor/cheerleader who worked for numerous pro teams, including the Trail Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks, and the Seattle Mariners. Scott worked for the Trail Blazers from 1981 through 1985.
1970–1974: Early years
The Trail Blazers entered the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team, playing in the Memorial Coliseum. The team was led in its early years by Geoff Petrie and Sidney Wicks, and failed to qualify for the NBA postseason in their first six years of existence. During that span, the team had three head coaches (including future hall-of-famer Lenny Wilkens); team executive Stu Inman also served as coach. The team won the first pick in the NBA Draft twice during that span. In 1972 the team drafted LaRue Martin with the number one pick, and in 1974 the team selected Bill Walton from UCLA.
1976–77: First NBA championship
In 1976, the ABA-NBA merger saw those two rival leagues join forces. Four ABA teams joined the NBA; the remaining teams were dissolved and their players distributed among the remaining NBA squads in a dispersal draft. The Trail Blazers selected Maurice Lucas in the dispersal draft. That summer they also hired Jack Ramsay as head coach. The two moves, coupled with the emergence of Walton as a premier NBA big man, led the team to its first winning record (49–33), its first playoff appearance, and its only NBA Championship in 1977. Starting on April 5 of that year, the team began a sellout streak of 814 straight games—the longest in sports history—which did not end until 1995, after the team moved into a larger facility.
The team started the next season with a 50–10 record, and many predicted a dynasty in Portland, but it was not to be. Walton suffered a foot injury that ended his season and would plague his entire career, and the team struggled to a 58–24 record, losing to the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1978 conference semifinals. That summer, Bill Walton demanded to be traded to a team of his choice (Clippers, Knicks, Warriors, or 76ers) because he was unhappy with his medical treatment in Portland. Walton was never traded, and he held out the entire 1978–79 season and left the team as a free agent thereafter, signing with the San Diego Clippers.  Maurice Lucas left the team in 1980, and the Blazers "dynasty" was finished.
During the 1980s, the team was a consistent presence in the NBA post-season, failing to qualify for the playoffs only in 1982. However, they never advanced past the conference semifinals during the decade. The Pacific Division of the NBA was dominated by the Los Angeles Lakers throughout the decade, and only the Lakers and the Houston Rockets represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Key players for the Blazers during the early 1980s included Mychal Thompson, Fat Lever, Darnell Valentine, Wayne Cooper, T. R. Dunn, Jim Paxson, and Calvin Natt.
1983–1995: The Clyde Drexler era
In 1983, the team selected University of Houston guard–forward Clyde Drexler with the 14th pick in the draft; "Clyde the Glide" would become the face of the franchise for over a decade, and the team's second-most decorated player (after Walton). The following year, the Trail Blazers landed the #2 pick in the NBA Draft. After the Houston Rockets selected Drexler's college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon, known at that time as Akeem Olajuwon, at #1, the Trail Blazers selected Kentucky center Sam Bowie. Drafting third, the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan. Many sportswriters and analysts have criticized the selection of the injury-plagued Bowie over Jordan as the worst draft pick in the history of American professional sports. That summer, the Blazers also made a controversial trade, sending Lever, Cooper, and Natt to the Denver Nuggets for high-scoring forward Kiki Vandeweghe.. In the 1985 Draft, the Blazers selected point guard Terry Porter with the last pick of the first round. Porter would go on to become one of the top point guards in the league, and the Blazers' all-time leader in assists.
However, the Blazers continued to struggle in the post-season, and in 1986, Ramsay was fired and replaced with Mike Schuler. That off-season, the team drafted two players from behind the Iron Curtain, Arvydas Sabonis and Dražen Petrović, and sent Thompson to the San Antonio Spurs for former Oregon State University star Steve Johnson. Johnson was a high-scoring forward-center who the team intended to pair with Bowie on the frontline. It was not to be, as Bowie broke his leg five games into the 1986–87 season, missing the next two and a half seasons. During Schuler's brief tenure, the Blazers failed to advance out of the first round of the NBA playoffs.
Paul Allen buys the team
In 1988, billionaire Paul Allen purchased the Blazers. His first season as owner was one marked by turmoil, as conflicts erupted over who should start at several positions. Both Vandeweghe and Johnson suffered injuries; they were replaced in the starting lineup by Jerome Kersey and Kevin Duckworth. Several players, most notably Drexler, were accused of undermining Schuler. The team struggled to a losing record and appeared in danger of missing the playoffs. Schuler was fired and replaced on an interim basis with assistant coach Rick Adelman, and Vandeweghe was traded to the New York Knicks. Under Adelman, the team achieved a 39–43 record, and barely qualified for the playoffs. That offseason, the team traded Sam Bowie (who had returned to the team to end the season) to the New Jersey Nets for forward Buck Williams, and Adelman was given the coaching job on a non-interim basis.
The addition of Williams, and the replacement of the defensively-challenged Vandeweghe with the defensive-minded Kersey, turned the team from a poor defensive squad into a good one. Led by the charismatic Drexler, the team reached the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, losing to the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, respectively. Possibly inspired by the Template:Nfly Chicago Bears's Super Bowl Shuffle, during the runnup to their 1990 Finals appearance, the Blazers recorded two songs: "Bust a Bucket" and "Rip City Rhapsody" (in reference to the city's nickname). The year in between their two finals appearances, the team posted a league-best 63–19 record before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. However, the team failed to win an NBA title, and failed to advance past the first round in 1993 and 1994. Adelman was fired after the 1994 season, and replaced with P. J. Carlesimo, which led to the resignation of executive vice-president Geoff Petrie, a close friend of Adelman's.
1995–2006: Rebuilding and troubles
In July 1994, the Trail Blazers announced the hire of a new team president, former Seattle SuperSonics general manager Bob Whitsitt. Whitsitt immediately set about revamping the Blazers roster; this included dismantling the aging Drexler-led team that had twice been to the finals,. In 1993, Kevin Duckworth was traded to the Washington Bullets for forward Harvey Grant. Several key players were permitted to walk away in free agency, including Buck Williams (1996), Terry Porter (1996), and Cliff Robinson (1997), which left Jerome Kersey unprotected in the 1996 expansion draft. Drexler requested to be traded to a contender, and the Trail Blazers traded him to the Houston Rockets. In the fall of 1995, the team left the Memorial Coliseum for a new home, the 20,000-seat Rose Garden. The sellout streak ended in the new building.
In an effort to rebuild, the team acquired several players who were highly talented, but had reputations for off-court troubles. Isaiah Rider, who was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves for just a draft pick and career backups due to his frequent arrests and lack of punctuality, was arrested for cannabis possession two days before his debut with the Blazers. Rasheed Wallace, who was acknowledged as a hot-tempered player since college, was also acquired in a trade with the Washington Bullets. Point guard Kenny Anderson was signed as a free agent, and subsequently traded for Damon Stoudamire. Initially, this approach worked, as the team returned to the Western Conference finals in 1999 under head coach Mike Dunleavy. After being swept by the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs, Whitsitt sent Rider and guard Jim Jackson to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Steve Smith and acquired former All-Star forward Scottie Pippen from the Houston Rockets. This team again advanced to the Western Conference Finals, where they faced a Los Angeles Lakers team led by Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. In that series, the Trail Blazers dropped three out of the first four games before winning the next two, forcing a pivotal Game 7. The Blazers had a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, but lost the game and the series to the Lakers, who went on to win the first of three consecutive titles from 2000–2002.
The Portland Trail Blazers made a series of personnel moves in the 2000 and 2001 off-seasons that failed to produce the desired results, and continued to alienate the community. Up-and-coming forward Jermaine O'Neal was traded to the Indiana Pacers for Dale Davis. Brian Grant signed with the Miami Heat, and he was replaced with troubled ex-Seattle forward Shawn Kemp. The team started off well, posting the Western Conference's best record through March 2001, but then signed guard Rod Strickland to augment their point guard corps. The move backfired, and the team lost 17 of its remaining 25 games, and was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, where they were swept by the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, the team whom they pushed to the brink in the Western Conference Finals in the previous season. Many in the media began to criticize the team, and Whitsitt, previously proclaimed a genius for his work in both Seattle and Portland, started coming under criticism. A particular criticism was that Whitsitt was attempting to win a title by assembling a roster of superstars, without paying attention to team chemistry. Longtime NBA coach and analyst Doug Collins referred to Whitsitt as a "rotisserie-league manager." A fan was ejected from the Rose Garden for holding up a banner that said "Trade Whitsitt", and many in the national media started referring to the team as the "Jail Blazers".
That offseason, the churning continued. Dunleavy was fired, and replaced with Maurice Cheeks, a "players coach" who some thought would relate better to the players than Dunleavy did. More transactions followed as the Blazers traded Steve Smith to the Spurs for Derek Anderson. In one of his most controversial moves to that time, Whitsitt signed free agent Ruben Patterson, who had previously pled no contest to a felony sexual assault charge, and was required to register as a sex offender. Popular center Arvydas Sabonis, who during the playoffs had a towel flung in his face by Wallace, decided to leave the team.
The next two seasons were just as disastrous for the team's reputation. Numerous players, including Wallace, Stoudamire, and Qyntel Woods, were arrested for marijuana possession. Woods pled guilty to first-degree animal abuse for staging dog fights in his house, some involving his pit bull named Hollywood. Both Hollywood and Woods' other pit bull, Sugar, were confiscated, and Woods was given eighty hours of community service. He also agreed to donate $10,000 to the Oregon Humane Society. Wallace was suspended for seven games for threatening a referee. Zach Randolph and Patterson got in a fight during practice, with Randolph sucker punching his teammate in the jaw. Police answering a burglar alarm at Stoudamire's house noticed a marijuana smell, searched the premises, and found a pound of cannabis located in a crawlspace; the search was later declared illegal and charges in the matter were dropped. Guard Bonzi Wells famously told Sports Illustrated in a 2002 interview:
Fan discontent soared; despite the team continuing to post a winning record, attendance at the Rose Garden started to decline. In the summer of 2003, with attendance declining, the team going nowhere on the court, and an exorbitant payroll, Whitsitt announced that he would leave the team to focus on Paul Allen's other franchise, the Seattle Seahawks.
To replace Whitsitt, the team hired two men at new positions. John Nash, a veteran NBA executive, was hired as general manager, and Steve Patterson as team president. The new management promised a focus on character while remaining playoff contenders; the team soon published a "Twenty-Five Point Pledge" to fans. Troublesome players including Wells, Wallace, and Jeff McInnis were traded away. However, the team failed to qualify for the 2004 NBA Playoffs, ending a streak of 21 straight appearances.
The following year was marked by more trouble as the team plummeted to a 27–55 record. The bankruptcy of the Oregon Arena corporation, which resulted in the Rose Garden being owned by a consortium of investment firms, further alienated the fanbase, as did an incident in which forward Darius Miles (himself African-American) called coach Maurice Cheeks a "n**ger." The latter incident was compounded by what many viewed as inadequate discipline for Miles, followed by a secret agreement between the team and Miles to refund the amount of his fine. Cheeks was fired that season and replaced on an interim basis by director of player-personnel Kevin Pritchard. That summer the team hired Nate McMillan, who had coached the Sonics the prior season, and Pritchard returned to the front office.
The following 2005–06 season was not better, as the Blazers posted a league-worst 21–61 record. Attendance was low, and the year was not free of player incidents. Players such as Miles, Patterson, Randolph, and Sebastian Telfair were involved in either on-court bickering or off-court legal incidents. Nash was fired at the end of the season, with Steve Patterson assuming the general manager role in addition to his duties as president. In addition, the team had a poor relationship with the management of the Rose Garden, frequently complaining of a "broken economic model". It was widely speculated by the end of the year that Paul Allen would sell the team; and the team was offered for sale that summer, with several groups expressing interest. However, Allen was willing to spend money and urged Pritchard to make draft-day trades. He subsequently took the team off the market.
2006–2012: The Brandon Roy era
In the spring of 2007, Steve Patterson resigned as team president, and Paul Allen entered into an agreement to repurchase the Rose Garden. On the court, the team finished with a 32–50 record, an 11-game improvement, and rookie shooting guard Brandon Roy was named the 2006–07 Rookie of the Year. That summer Pritchard was promoted to general manager, 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. Some had speculated that they might choose Kevin Durant instead; Durant was picked at #2 by regional rivals the Seattle SuperSonics. Oden suffered a pre-season knee injury requiring microfracture surgery, and missed the entire 2007–08 season.
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. The Blazers finished the season 41–41, their best record since the 2003–04 season.
The team continued to improve in the 2008–09 season. Greg Oden debuted with the Blazers, as did Spanish swingman Rudy Fernández. Roy appeared in his second straight All-Star Game, and had a career-high 52 points against the Phoenix Suns and game-winning shots against the Houston Rockets and New York Knicks. The Blazers clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2003 and achieved a winning season for the first time since the 2002–03 season. As the fourth seed and holding home court advantage, the Portland Trail Blazers played the fifth-seeded Houston Rockets in the 2009 Playoffs, losing the playoff series 4 games to 2.
In the 2009 off-season, the Trail Blazers traded the #24 pick to Dallas for the #22 pick and selected Victor Claver. They also selected Villanova forward Dante Cunningham with the #33 pick, Jon Brockman and guard Patrick Mills. Brockman was traded to the Kings in exchange for #31 pick Jeff Pendergraph. Free agent Channing Frye signed with the Phoenix Suns and Sergio Rodriguez was traded to the Kings. The Blazers attempted to sign free agent small forward Hedo Turkoglu, who led the Orlando Magic to the 2009 NBA Finals, but after a verbal agreement he decided to sign with the Toronto Raptors. The Blazers then attempted to sign restricted free agent Paul Millsap; however, their offer was matched by the Utah Jazz. On July 24, 2009, the Trail Blazers signed point guard Andre Miller.
However, the 2009–10 season has been a painful one. Despite toting a winning record, injuries have hobbled the team. Reserves Nicolas Batum and Rudy Fernández started the season on the inactive list. Both centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla suffered season-ending knee injuries, while Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge played through shoulder and hamstring, and ankle injuries, respectively. Head Coach Nate McMillan was likewise not spared, suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon during practice and was in a walking boot. The Blazers managed to fill the void in the center position, acquiring Marcus Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw. The Blazers rallied to finish at 50–32, but because of a tie-breaker, they finished 6th in the West. Brandon Roy underwent surgery after suffering a torn meniscus in his right knee, but returned for Game 4 of the first round series against the Phoenix Suns. However, the accumulation of injuries was too much to bear, and the short-handed Trail Blazers lost the series 4–2 to the Suns.
During the 2010-11, Roy's knees, which were ailing due to a lack of cartilage (this was caused because Roy was suffering a health condition that caused the cartilage on his knees to erode) started to affect the All Star Guard's play. He missed nine games before the Trail Blazers announced that he would be out indefinitely. It was widely speculated that Roy would not be able to play at an All-Star level again. This forced the team to start running its offense through forward LaMarcus Aldridge and backup guard Wesley Matthews.
On January 17, 2011, Roy underwent arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees. He returned to the lineup on February 25, scoring 18 points off the bench, including a clutch three-pointer to force overtime, and helping the Blazers win the game 107–106. Roy would come off of the bench and play inconsistently for the rest of the season.
The Blazers then faced the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs. Roy played poorly in the first 2 games, shooting 1-for-8 the first 2 games. The series then went to Portland, and Roy scored 16 points in 23 minutes off the bench to boost the Blazers to a 97–92 Game 3 win. The Blazers would start out Game 4 slowly, but in the fourth quarter, Roy scored 18 points after going 1-for-3 the previous 3 quarters, including a clutch 4-point play to tie the game and a bank shot from the middle of the paint with 49 seconds left to give his team the lead for good, finishing with 24 points to lead the Blazers to an improbable 84–82 win to tie the series. The Blazers would go on to lose the series in 6 games, but it gave hope for Roy to start again next season.
However, following the 2011 season, Roy announced that his knees had degenerated so much that he would have to retire. Following this, the Blazers would use the amnesty clause to waive Roy. This officially marked the end of the Brandon Roy era in Portland.
2012–present: The Damian Lillard era
On June 28, 2012, the Blazers selected Weber State guard Damian Lillard and University of Illinois center Meyers Leonard with the 6th and 11th picks overall, respectively. They also selected Memphis guard Will Barton with the 40th pick overall, and traded the rights of the 41st overall pick, guard Tyshawn Taylor, to the Brooklyn Nets for cash considerations.
Lillard earned the Rookie of the Year award in the 2012-13 NBA season and become a All-Star right after his rookie year in the 2013-14 NBA season and again the following season. Lillard has scored 6,856 points altogether as of the end of the 2015-16 NBA season. Lillard averages 25.1 points and 6.3 assists per game Lillard is a good three point shooter, shooting .375 from the three point line. His free throw percentage is .892. Since All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge left the Blazers for the San Antonio Spurs, Lillard has been the face of the franchise ever since.
Headed by their new general manager Olshey, the Trail Blazers front office further made a few changes during July 2012. The Blazers signed their 30th pick from the 2006 draft, Joel Freeland, and their 22nd pick from the 2009 draft, Víctor Claver, as well as re-signing Hickson and Nicolas Batum. They also signed veteran point guard Ronnie Price to back-up Lillard, who was selected as co-MVP of the 2012 Las Vegas Summer League. Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts was hired as head coach on August 7, 2012.
Under the reins of Lillard, the Blazers played well into January 2013, posting a 20–15 record. On January 11, 2013, at home against the Miami Heat, Wesley Matthews made two consecutive three-pointers late in the fourth quarter to help the Blazers secure a 92–90 victory. However, despite the Blazers remaining among the playoff contenders for most of the season, injuries to starters Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Matthews, as well as a losing streak of 13 games – the longest in the franchise's history – led to the 11th position in the West, with a 33–49 record. Averaging 19.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.1 rebounds, Lillard was unanimously named Rookie of the Year, joining Ralph Sampson, David Robinson, and Blake Griffin as the only unanimous selections in NBA history.
Going into the 2013 NBA draft, the Trail Blazers held four picks: the 10th pick in the first round and three second-round picks. The Blazers selected guard CJ McCollum out of Lehigh University with their 10th pick, and also selected center Jeff Withey from Kansas, power forward Grant Jerrett from Arizona, and Montenegrin big man Marko Todorović. In addition, Cal guard Allen Crabbe was acquired from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for two second-round picks, in the 2015 and 2016 drafts.
The Blazers finished the 2014 season with 21 more wins than the previous season, which amounted for the largest single-season improvement in franchise history. This included a period in November when they won 11 straight games, and 13–2 in the month overall, for which coach Terry Stotts took home Coach of the Month honors. On December 12, 2013, Aldridge scored 31 points and pulled down 25 rebounds in a home game against the Rockets, the first time a Trail Blazer recorded a 30-point, 25-rebound game. On December 14, 2013, the Blazers made a franchise-record 21 three-pointers against the Philadelphia 76ers. They tied the new record 19 days later against the Charlotte Bobcats, becoming the first NBA team to make 20 or more three-pointers in a game more than once in a season. Lillard was voted in as a reserve to his first All-Star game, joining Aldridge to represent Portland at the game. Portland finished 54–28, securing the fifth seed in the playoffs against the Rockets. The team also shot 81.5% at the free throw line, made 770 three-pointers, and started four players for all 82 regular-season games, all franchise records.
The first-round series against the Houston Rockets was a tight one, with three of the six games going to overtime. The Blazers fared well in the first two games despite not having home-court advantage, beating Houston 122–120 and 112–105 in Games 1 and 2 respectively, fueled by Aldridge's 46 points and 18 rebounds in Game 1, and 43 points and 3 blocks in Game 2. In the sixth game of the series with the Rockets threatening to force a Game 7 back in Houston, down by two points with 0.9 seconds left in the game, Damian Lillard hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to close out the series, and the Blazers won their first playoff series and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2000, where they lost to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in five games.
During the 2014 off-season, Olshey signed center Chris Kaman and two-time former Blazer guard Steve Blake to bolster the bench. Expectations by sportswriters and analysts were high for the Trail Blazers going into the 2015 NBA season given their surprise success in 2013–14. The Blazers beat the reigning Northwest Division Champion Oklahoma City Thunder, 106–89, in their season opener at home on October 29, 2014. Like the season before, the Trail Blazers dominated the month of November, at one point winning nine straight games from November 9 to 26 before being defeated by the Memphis Grizzlies. Injuries, which had not been significant the previous season, started to inflict themselves on various players. Starting center Lopez fractured his right hand in a game against the Spurs on December 15, 2014, and missed the next 23 games. Initially, the Blazers were much unfazed, winning 129–119 in triple overtime against the Spurs on December 19, a game that saw Lillard and Aldridge combine for 75 points on 29 field goals; Lillard netted a career-high 43 points. Four days later, Lillard hit a three-pointer to tie the game and force overtime against the Thunder en route to 40 points and a 115–111 victory. Three Blazers went to New Orleans for the All Star Weekend: Matthews for the Foot Locker Three-Point Contest, Lillard as a reserve to the All-Star Game, and Aldridge as a starter to the All-Star game.
More injuries appeared around the start of the new year, which caused Aldridge, Batum, and Joel Freeland to miss various amounts of time, but none greater than Wesley Matthews' season-ending Achilles tendon tear on March 5, 2015. Called "the heart and soul" of the team by Aldridge, Matthews was in the midst of a career year when the injury occurred. In the first half of the season, the Blazers had a record of 30–11, allowed opponents to score an average of 97.0 points, and held them to 29.7% shooting on three-pointers; in the second half the Blazers regressed to a 21–20 record, allowed 100.2 points, and let opponents shoot 37.9% from three. The Blazers clinched a return trip to the playoffs on March 30, 2015, defeating the Phoenix Suns, 109–86. Finishing the season 51–31, they clinched their first Northwest Division title since 1999 but fell to the Grizzlies in five games in the first round of the playoffs.
In the 2015 NBA draft, the Blazers selected Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and subsequently traded him to the Brooklyn Nets along with Steve Blake for center Mason Plumlee and the 42nd pick, Pat Connaughton.
After losing four of their five starters at the end of the 2014–15 season, the Blazers won 44 games, were the 5th seed in the Western Conference, and beat the Los Angeles Clippers in six games in the first round, but were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in five games in the Conference Semifinals.
In May 2017, the team revealed their new logo, an update of the pinwheel design with a new wordmark. According to Chris McGowan, president and CEO of the Trail Blazers, "Together, we landed on subtle changes that provide a nod to our past while allowing us to modernize other aspects of our creative assets."
The 2017–18 season saw the Blazers finish with the third seed for the first time since the 1999–2000 season. On April 21, 2018, they were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the New Orleans Pelicans in a 4–0 sweep.
In the 2018–19 season, the Blazers finished the regular season as the third seed in the Western Conference for the second consecutive season. In the first round of the playoffs, the Trail Blazers defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games, when Damian Lillard hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Game 5 to close out the series, similarly to his game winner against the Houston Rockets in the First Round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. It marked their first series win since the 2016 playoffs. The first game victory over the Thunder on April 14, 2019, also marked the first playoff win since 2016. In the second round of the playoffs, the team faced the Denver Nuggets. Game 3 of the series was the first quadruple overtime game in the NBA playoffs since 1953, while the Trail Blazers won 140–137. The Trail Blazers won the series in seven games and advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2000. In the Western Conference Finals, they faced the defending two-time NBA champion Golden State Warriors, and were swept in four games.
On August 15, 2020, the Trail Blazers clinched the 8th seed after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in a play-in game. With the Blazers clinching a playoff berth, this was the 3rd consecutive season where 4 of 5 teams in the Northwest Division have clinched the playoffs.
In the playoffs, the Trail Blazers faced the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, marking the first meeting between the two teams in the playoffs since 2002. After winning the first game of the series, Damian Lillard was forced to leave the bubble after suffering a right knee injury in Game 4, and the Trail Blazers would go on to lose to the Lakers in five games.
In the 2020–21 season, the Trail Blazers finished the regular season with a 42–30 record, clinching the 6th seed in the Western Conference. The Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers also finished with the same record, but the Mavericks clinched the 5th seed based on tiebreakers over the Trail Blazers and Lakers, and the Trail Blazers clinched the 6th seed after defeating the Denver Nuggets 132–116 on May 16, 2021, thus forcing the Lakers to partake in the Play-in tournament, where they played the Golden State Warriors for the 7th seed, where they won the game 103–100 to clinch the 7th seed. With the Houston Rockets missing the playoffs for the first time since 2012, which snapped their eight year playoff streak, the Trail Blazers now hold the NBA's longest active playoff streak, also at eight seasons, having made the playoffs every season since 2014.
In the playoffs, the Trail Blazers faced the Denver Nuggets in the first round. The two teams had previously met in the 2019 NBA playoffs in the semifinals, where the Trail Blazers won in seven games. However, the Nuggets would go on to defeat the Trail Blazers in six games.
In the Blazers' 50 years of existence (through 2020), they have qualified for the NBA playoffs 36 times. This includes a streak of 21 straight playoff appearances from 1983 through 2003. The team has one NBA title, in 1977, and appeared in the NBA Finals two other times, in 1990 and 1992. The best record posted by the team was 63–19, in 1991; the worst record was 18–64, in the team's second season.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage
|Portland Trail Blazers|
|1976-77||49||33||.598||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Won NBA Finals
|Portland 2, Chicago 1|
Portland 4, Denver 2
Portland 4, Los Angeles 0
Portland 4, Philadelphia 2
|1977-78||58||24||.707||Lost Conference Semifinals||Seattle 4, Portland 2|
|1978-79||45||37||.549||Lost First Round||Phoenix 2, Portland 1|
|1979-80||38||44||.463||Lost First Round||Seattle 2, Portland 1|
|1980-81||45||37||.549||Lost First Round||Kansas City 2, Portland 1|
|1982-83||46||36||.561||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Portland 2, Seattle 0|
Los Angeles 4, Portland 1
|1983-84||48||34||.585||Lost First Round||Phoenix 3, Portland 2|
|1984-85||42||40||.512||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Portland 3, Dallas 1|
LA Lakers 4, Portland 1
|1985-86||40||42||.488||Lost First Round||Denver 3, Portland 1|
|1986-87||49||33||.598||Lost First Round||Houston 3, Portland 1|
|1987-88||53||29||.646||Lost First Round||Utah 3, Portland 1|
|1988-89||39||43||.476||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 3, Portland 0|
|1989-90||59||23||.720||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
|Portland 3, Dallas 0|
Portland 4, San Antonio 3
Portland 4, Phoenix 2
Detroit 4, Portland 1
|1990-91||63||19||.768||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Portland 3, Seattle 2|
Portland 4, Utah 1
LA Lakers 4, Portland 2
|1991-92||57||25||.695||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
|Portland 3, LA Lakers 1|
Portland 4, Phoenix 1
Portland 4, Utah 2
Chicago 4, Portland 2
|1992-93||51||31||.622||Lost First Round||San Antonio 3, Portland 1|
|1993-94||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||Houston 3, Portland 1|
|1994-95||44||38||.537||Lost First Round||Phoenix 3, Portland 0|
|1995-96||44||38||.537||Lost First Round||Utah 3, Portland 2|
|1996-97||49||33||.598||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 3, Portland 1|
|1997-98||46||36||.561||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 3, Portland 1|
|1998-99||35||15||.700||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Portland 3, Phoenix 0|
Portland 4, Utah 2
San Antonio 4, Portland 0
|1999-00||59||23||.720||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Portland 3, Minnesota 1|
Portland 4, Utah 1
LA Lakers 4, Portland 3
|2000-01||50||32||.610||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 3, Portland 0|
|2001-02||49||33||.598||Lost First Round||LA Lakers 3, Portland 0|
|2002-03||50||32||.610||Lost First Round||Dallas 4, Portland 3|
|2008-09||54||28||.659||Lost First Round||Houston 4, Portland 2|
|2009-10||50||32||.610||Lost First Round||Phoenix 4, Portland 2|
|2010-11||48||34||.585||Lost First Round||Dallas 4, Portland 2|
|2013-14||54||28||.659||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Portland 4, Houston 2|
San Antonio 4, Portland 1
|2014-15||51||31||.622||Lost First Round||Memphis 4, Portland 1|
|2015-16||44||38||.537||Won First Round
Lost Conference Semifinals
|Portland 4, LA Clippers 2|
Golden State 4, Portland 1
|2016-17||41||41||.500||Lost First Round||Golden State 4, Portland 0|
|2017-18||49||33||.598||Lost First Round||New Orleans 4, Portland 0|
|2018-19||53||29||.646||Won First Round
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
|Portland 4, Oklahoma City 1|
Portland 4, Denver 3
Golden State 4, Portland 0
|2019-20||35||39||.473||Won Play-in Game for No. 8 seed
Lost First Round
|Portland 1, Memphis 0|
LA Lakers 4, Portland 1
|2020-21||42||30||.583||Lost First Round||Denver 4, Portland 2|
The "I-5" Rivalry
The Seattle SuperSonics were the traditional rivals of the Blazers. Due to the proximity of the teams, the rivalry had been dubbed the "I-5" Rivalry in reference to the Interstate 5 freeway that connects the two cities. Many fans made the trip up to Seattle for the games, with Seattle fans making the trek down to Portland for their games. The rivalry was fairly equal in accomplishments, with both teams winning one championship each. The all-time record of this rivalry ended at 98–94 in favor of the SuperSonics.
- 00 - Carmelo Anthony
- 24 - Kent Bazemore
- 4 - Moses Brown
- 33 - Zach Collins
- 16 - Pau Gasol
- 44 - Mario Hezonja
- 6 - Jaylen Hoard
- 5 - Rodney Hood
- 17 - Skal Labissiére
- 0 - Damian Lillard
- 9 - Nassir Little
- 3 - CJ McCollum
- 27 - Jusuf Nurkić
- 1 - Anfernee Simons
- 43 - Anthony Tolliver
- 2 - Gary Trent
- 21 - Hassan Whiteside
|Portland Trail Blazers retired numbers|
|77||Jack Ramsay||Head coach||1976–1986|
- As team owner and founder, Larry Weinberg's number 1 is still available to players.
- Jack Ramsay did not play for the team; the number represents the 1977 NBA Championship he won while coaching the Blazers.
Hall of Famers
- Lenny Wilkens: 1974–1975
- Bill Walton: 1974–1978
- Clyde Drexler: 1983–1995
- Dražen Petrović: 1989–1990
- Scottie Pippen: 2000–2003
- Arvydas Sabonis
- Lenny Wilkens: 1974–1976
- Jack Ramsay: 1976–1986
The Trail Blazers have had the #1 pick in the NBA Draft four times in their history; each time selecting a center. In 1972 the choice was LaRue Martin, Bill Walton was picked in 1974, Mychal Thompson in 1978, and Greg Oden was taken in 2007. Several Blazer picks have been criticized by NBA commentators as particularly unwise:
- The selection of Martin over Bob McAdoo.
- The selection of Thompson over Larry Bird (drafted #6 by the Boston Celtics) in 1978.
- The selection of center Sam Bowie with the #2 pick in the 1984 NBA Draft over Michael Jordan (who was then drafted by the Chicago Bulls); other notable players taken later in that draft include future Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley and John Stockton.
- The selection of center Greg Oden with the #1 pick in the 2007 NBA Draft over Kevin Durant.
Other notable draft picks include player-coach Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, Larry Steele, Lionel Hollins and Jim Paxson in the 1970s and Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter and Arvydas Sabonis in the 1980s. In the 1990s the Blazers selected Jermaine O'Neal and in the modern millennium drafted Zach Randolph and, in 2006, acquired Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge in a blockbuster draft day that included six trades involving the Trail Blazers.
Franchise and NBA records
Records vs. Opponents
for the 1970-71 season through the 1981-82 season
|San Antonio Spurs||12||11||.000||2-1|
|Chicago Bulls||25||31||.000||2-0||2-1 Postseason|
|Sacramento Kings||34||26||.000||3-2||1-2 Postseason|
|Golden State Warriors||33||34||.000||4-1|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||31||47||.000||1-2||3-6 Postseason|
|Los Angeles Lakers||31||40||.000||1-1||4-0 Postseason|
|Philadelphia 76ers||20||27||.000||0-1||4-2 Postseason|
|New York Knicks||19||23||.000||0-1|
|Phoenix Suns||27||43||.000||1-3||1-2 Postseason|
|New Jersey Nets||11||5||.000||0-1|
|Los Angeles Clippers||37||27||.000||3-1|
|Denver Nuggets||20||14||.000||0-1||4-2 Postseason|
|New Orleans Hornets||0||0||.000||0-0|
The team is ultimately owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen; ownership of the Trail Blazers is via a series of holding companies which Allen owns. Vulcan Inc. is a private corporation which has Allen as chairman and sole shareholder. A subsidiary of Vulcan, Vulcan Sports and Entertainment (VSE), manages Allen's sports-related properties, including the Trail Blazers, the Seattle Seahawks NFL team, the Seattle Sounders MLS team, and the Rose Garden. The president of VSE is Tod Leiweke, who also briefly served as the president of the Trail Blazers.
The Trail Blazers as a corporate entity are owned by VSE. Allen serves as the team's chairman, and his longtime associate Bert Kolde is vice-chairman. The current president of the Trail Blazers is Larry Miller. The post of chief operating officer is currently vacant; the most recent COO of the team was Mike Golub, who resigned in July 2008 to take a more enhanced role with VSE.. The team's general manager is Kevin Pritchard. Before Allen purchased the team in 1988, the Trail Blazers were owned by a group of investors headed by Larry Weinberg.
The Trail Blazers play their home games in the Moda Center, a multipurpose arena which is located in Portland's Rose Quarter, northeast of downtown. The Moda Center, which opened in 1995 as the Rose Garden, can seat a total of 19,980 spectators for basketball games; capacity increases to 20,580 with standing room. Like the Trail Blazers, the Moda Center was owned by Paul Allen through subsidiary Vulcan Sports and Entertainment, and the arena is managed by Global Spectrum. During a two-year period between 2005 and 2007, the arena was owned by a consortium of creditors who financed its construction after the Oregon Arena Corporation, a now-defunct holding company owned by Allen, filed for bankruptcy in 2004.
The team has a cheerleading/dance squad known as the BlazerDancers. Consisting of 16 members, the all-female BlazerDancers perform dance routines at home games, charity events, and promotional events. The 2008–2009 team held auditions in late July 2008. Seven new dancers, as well as nine returning dancers make up the new team. A junior dance team composed of 8–11 year old girls also performs at selected home games, as does a hip-hop dance troupe. Other regular in-game entertainment acts include a co-educational acrobatic stunt team which performs technically-difficult cheers, a break dancing squad known as the Portland TrailBreakers, and a pair of percussion acts.
Fan support and "Blazermania"
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.
The phenomenon known as Blazermania started during the 1976–77 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. That season, the team started their famous sellout streak which would continue until the team moved into the Rose Garden in 1995. The team continued to average over 19,000 spectators per game until the 2003–04 season, when attendance declined after the team continued to suffer image problems due to the "Jail Blazer" reputation it had gained, and was no longer competitive on the court. After drafting eventual Rookie of the Year and three-time All Star Brandon Roy in 2006, attendance climbed in the 2006–07 season and continued to rebound in the 2007–08 season. The final 27 home games of the 2007–2008 season were consecutive sell-outs, a streak which continued through the entire 2008–2009 season and remains unbroken thus far in the 2009–2010 season.
Television and radio broadcast
Like all NBA franchises, games of the Trail Blazers are routinely broadcast via television and radio. The team was one of the first in the NBA to produce its own television broadcasts. The team's television production facility is known as Post-Up Productions. Television broadcasts of Blazer games, when not carried on a national network, are broadcast either on Comcast SportsNet Northwest or the Blazers Television Network, a network of four over-the-air television stations located in Oregon. The flagship station of the Blazers Television Network is KGW-TV in Portland.
For the 2007–08 season, all but six regular-season games were carried on one these networks; the other six were broadcast nationally on TNT or ESPN. Thirty-four games were produced and broadcast in high-definition television. The Trail Blazers television play-by-play announcer and analyst are Mike Barrett and Mike Rice, respectively. The sideline reporter during the broadcasts is Rebecca Haarlow. The team was also known for its long association with Steve "Snapper" Jones, who played for the team prior to his career as a television analyst; Jones departed the franchise in 2005.
All Trail Blazer games are broadcast over the radio, with broadcasting carried on the Trail Blazers radio network, which consists of 25 stations located in the Pacific Northwest. The flagship station of the Blazers' radio network is KXTG (95.5 The Game), the FM sports radio station in Portland. The radio broadcasting team consists of play-by-play announcer Brian Wheeler, analyst Antonio Harvey, and studio host Jay Allen. All games are preceded by a pre-game analysis show, Blazers Courtside, and followed by a post-game show known as The 5th Quarter. Bob Akamian serves as studio host and former Trail Blazers' player Michael Holton as studio analyst. The original radio announcer for the team was Bill Schonely, who served as the team's radio play-by-play announcer from 1970 until his retirement in 1998—calling 2,522 Blazers games—and remains with the team as a community ambassador.
Trail Blazers broadcasts have been criticized on several fronts. The broadcast personalities, all of whom are Trail Blazers employees, have been criticized in the media for being "homers"; further it has been alleged that the 2005 departure of Steve Jones was due in part to team displeasure with Jones' sometimes frank analysis of the team's on-court performance and off-court decisions. A television deal signed with Comcast SportsNet in 2007 has also been criticized for not ensuring access to Blazer games via cable company Charter, as well as satellite television providers such as DirecTV and Dish Network, both of which compete with Comcast's cable television operations.
Several local news outlets provide in-depth coverage of the Trail Blazers. Chief among them is The Oregonian, the largest paper in the state of Oregon. Other newspapers providing detailed coverage of the team (including the assignment of beat writers to cover the team) include the Portland Tribune, a weekly Portland paper, and the Vancouver, Washington Columbian. Notable local journalists to cover the team include John Canzano and Jason Quick of the Oregonian and Dwight Jaynes of the Portland Tribune. Online coverage of the Oregonian is provided through oregonlive.com, a website collaboration between the paper and Advance Internet. In addition to making Oregonian content available, oregonlive.com hosts several blogs covering the team written by Oregonian journalists, as well as an additional blog, "Blazers Blog", written by Sean Meagher.
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. For instance during a portion of a pre-2006 NBA Draft workout, which was closed to the media, an Oregonian reporter looked through a curtain separating the press from the workout and wrote about this on his blog. Outraged, the team closed subsequent practices to the press altogether, leading John Canzano of the paper to respond with outrage on his blog. In November 2006, the Oregonian commissioned an outside editor to investigate the deteriorating relationship, a move the rival Willamette Week called "unusual". In the report, both sides were criticized somewhat, but did not make any revelations which were unexpected.
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