caseyholdahl

Feb 25

In Appreciation Of Joel Przybilla

By caseyholdahl Posted in: Blazers, Lakers


Joel Przybilla joked after Wednesday night's loss to the Lakers that he "wanted to go out with a bang." Of course once I asked him officially, Joel said the extra bounce in his step had more to do with going up against a longtime rival than it did playing possibly his final game as a Trail Blazer. Personally, I think it was a little bit of both.

That game did end up being Przybilla's last in Portland before being traded along with Dante Cunningham, Sean Marks and two first-round picks to Charlotte in exchange for Gerald Wallace. Both Cunningham and Marks were important members of the team whose contributions will be missed, but their relatively short time here isn't comparable to the six plus seasons in which Przybilla patrolled the paint as Portland's go-to tough guy.

In his first season after joining signing as a free agent in the summer of 2004, the Trail Blazers won just 27 games, five fewer wins than Portland already has this season. That team was coached by Maurice Cheeks, in his final season in Portland, and featured the likes of Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Derek Anderson, Ruben Patterson, Nick Van Exel and then-rookie Ha Seung-Jin. All those players, along with everyone else on that roster, are now long gone. Only Przybilla remained, not that he necessarily planned it that way.

"I've seen a lot," said Przybilla of his time in Portland. "It's been a joy. I have memories and friendships that will last a lifetime. When I first signed here my first year, I never expected (staying), seriously. I was expecting to maybe play a year or two here and move on."

Instead, he played through his initial two-year contract and then re-signed as a free-agent when he could have gone to another team offering more money and a better chance at winning a championship. Along the way he started a family, had two kids and became a beloved member of the community.

"I've been here over six years," said Przybilla with a touch of disbelief in his voice. "I have a lot of friends out here. My family enjoys it out here. It's a home to us."

All told, he played in 395 games as a Trail Blazer, starting 273 of those, became one of the franchises' all-time leaders in blocks, committed 1119 fouls (most of the hard variety) while providing a physical presence that was desperately lacking before he arrived.

"Where it's come from when I first got here to where it is at now...," said Przybilla, his voice trailing off. "I'd definitely love to stick around, but like I said, it's a business. I've lasted a lot longer here than I expected when I first signed here seven years ago."

Now, Joel begins his career with the Charlotte Bobcats trying to get his body back to where it was before he ruptured his patella tendon. There have been questions about whether he'll give it another go next season, questions which Przybilla himself is not prepared to answer.

"My biggest thing is I want to see how my knee reacts," said Przybilla of his prospects for playing a 12th NBA season. "I've got to have a good summer and get my knee right, because right now it's still not 100 percent.

"My biggest thing is I want to next season be with an organization that is competing for a championship. I want to be a part of something. I don't want to be bouncing around the league for the next few years. I want to be in the right situation for me and my family."

For the past six seasons, that right situation has been in Portland. It may never be that way again, but even if it isn't, rest assured that Przybilla will be just fine.

"At the end of the day," said Przybilla, "I get to go home and see my family, be with my wife and kids, and that's all that matters to me."

8 Comments

  1. Thank you Joel for your fantastic work on behalf of the Blazers. We appreciate you and wish you good fortune in the time ahead. Here's hoping you find your way back to Portland where you belong.

    by Just Tim on 2/25/2011 7:29 PM
  2. Amen to that. What Zydrunas Ilgauskas did last year to rejoin the Cavs should be our plan. Obviously it's against league policy to talk about it, but we'll learn after 30 days if they're doing it.

    by sameer on 2/25/2011 8:44 PM
  3. The only thing is Cho said that Charlette liked his play.

    I am with you I hope he comes back. If he stays in Charlette until the end of the season then he can sign back with us if Portland offers him a contract

    by Hg on 2/26/2011 1:34 AM
  4. No matter where Joel goes He will always be part of what made this team so great. I hope we get him back!

    by civilhold on 2/26/2011 2:45 AM
  5. Thanx Joel for the fantastic work you did while in Rip City. You'll be missed. Hurry back and visit sometime. Maybe we'll see you in a Blazer uniform again. Hope so. Best of luck to you wherever you are.

    by pioneerfan on 2/26/2011 10:31 PM
  6. Thanks Joel for all your hard work, your great character and love your smile!! I am hoping we will see you again real soon in a Blazer uniform. We will miss you and wish you the best ever and your family as well. God Bless!!

    by dljensen on 2/26/2011 10:54 PM
  7. Joel was my wife's favorite player and one of mine. I'm going to miss him.

    by tominhawaii on 2/27/2011 7:54 AM
  8. Great piece Casey. I wanted to comment now that I've seen Joel in a Bobcats uniform - it does not suit him. :-) Though along with others, would love to have him back, I'm glad he's not down about it and I would love him to be able to compete for a title towards the end of his career and of course, we are in that picture for the time being (but when GO comes back though . . . ), so even if next year, he goes somewhere else where he has a chance at the title, I will be happy for him. It's great though, given he is a veteran and has the good home life, that as long as he has those people in his life, he'll be fine no matter what. Wish him all the best always and just in case this was the last time we see him in the white, black and red, THANK YOU JOEL!

    by Anees on 2/28/2011 1:17 PM
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