#2 Buck Williams vs. #7 Larry Steele
No. 52 Buck Williams | Power Forward | 6-8 | 225 lbs
Career Stats As A Trail Blazer:
30.8 mpg, 10.2 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.7 spg, 0.6 bpg, .550 FG%, .375 3PT%, .695 FT%
The final piece to the puzzle. It was the addition of Buck Williams from the New Jersey Nets in the summer of 1989 that turned the Trail Blazers from perennial one-and-done in the postseason to championship contender. Once Buck was added to the core (Drexler, Duckworth, Kersey, Porter), the Blazers soared into the stratosphere of the NBA’s elite, winning a combined 179 games (an average of 60 per year) over the course of three seasons which included a franchise-high 63 victories in 1991 and two trips to the NBA Finals in 1991 and 1992.
But one must look beyond the box score to find Buck’s true impact on the Trail Blazers. Statistically, Williams was never going to ‘Wow!’ anyone by scoring 30 points or blocking 10 shots. Buck provided top-notch post defense on some of the game’s all-time greats, including Karl Malone, Charles Barkley and Shawn Kemp. During those title chases of the early 90’s, Williams was honored as a member of the All-Defense first team in both 90 and 91 and All-Defense second team in 92. In an era where zone defense was illegal, Williams’ ability to play Hall of Fame caliber bigs straight up was invaluable to Portland’s success. Providing yeoman’s work on defense wasn’t his only trick either. He dominated the “Buck”-boards as well, leaving the franchise having grabbed 4,861 boards, fourth all-time in team history. And when he did look to score, he made it count, becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in field goal percentage (.550).
"Everybody's favorite. Tough as nails and gentle as a giant. But he could flat out play."
Photo Gallery: Buck Williams Through The Years
No. 15 | Guard/Forward | 6-5 | 180 lbs
Career Stats As A Trail Blazer:
24.2 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, .483 FG%, .796 FT%
The consummate team player. Larry Steele didn’t care about playing time, roles or positions. All that mattered was winning and doing whatever was necessary for the benefit of the team. And while his name doesn’t come with the notoriety of Walton or Lucas nor will he ever receive the proper recognition for his role on that title team, there may not be a banner hanging up in the Rose Garden without his attitude and contributions. Go through the list of championship winning teams in any sport and they will all have their own version of Larry Steele -a player ready at the bat of an eye to step in when called upon. During Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals against Denver, Steele answered Coach Ramsay’s call to the tune of 14 points, including 8-8 from the free throw line, three rebounds, an assist and four steals to help the Blazers’ amazing run continue.
Speaking of steals, Larry lived up to his last name quite well, racking up 846 takeaways during his nine seasons (72-80) in Rip City, fifth most in team history. An even more impressive feat considering the NBA didn’t record steals as an official statistic until two years into Steele’s career in 1973-74. To this day, Steele still holds the record for thievery in one game, swiping 10 against the Lakers on November 16th, 1974 and is one of only four players to lead the team in steals for three consecutive seasons (74-76). Larry also leaves the Trail Blazers ninth in assists (1,719).
"Long and lanky. Great shooter. A racehorse. You'd have to watch him or he'd be gone."
Photo Gallery: Larry Steele Through The Years
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Bracket: The Greatest Trail Blazer Of All-Time