Greatest Trail Blazers: Round One Recap
By DHawes22 Posted in: Blazers
After a month of voting, bantering and analyzing, the thirty-two player field to determine the Greatest Trail Blazer of All-Time has been slashed in half. To no one’s surprise, the Sweet 16 is dominated by one of the most unforgettable and memorable team’s ever to have worn the red and black—the Trail Blazers of the early 1990’s which marked the return of Rip City after appearing in two NBA Finals in a three-year span. Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth, Jerome Kersey, Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, and Buck Williams carry the torch for that bunch. In fact, the only member of that squad to lose his first round matchup was Danny Ainge and that was due to him facing Uncle Cliffy.
The remaining ten contestants all hail from different parts of the past, sprinkled evenly throughout each decade. Four members of the Blazers in the 70’s moved on, including three from the ’77 title team (Lionel Hollins, Maurice Lucas, and Bill Walton) as well as, “the original Trail Blazer”, Geoff Petrie. Just like the hair, getting buckets was big in the 80’s and not many did it bigger than Calvin Natt, Jim Paxson, Mychal Thompson, and Kiki Vandeweghe. Not to be forgotten, Arvydas Sabonis and Rasheed Wallace hold down the fort for the last great Trail Blazers team from 2000.
For the most part, the first round went according to plan and chalk prevailed 81percent of the time (only three upsets in 16 matchups). While the ones and twos won comfortably, by an average of 30-3 and 29-4 respectively, the same couldn’t be said for the threes or fours. In fact, every single upset came from the four/five matchup as Sabonis blasted Sidney Wicks 36-8, Hollins bested former teammate Bobby Gross 23-10, and in the most surprising result, Natt took out recent fan favorite Scottie Pippen 19-14. The only four seed to prevail was Vandeweghe but even he needed a late push to withstand Damon Stoudamire, 24-18. Even though every three seed passed their first Litmus test, only Wallace was able to win convincingly, ousting Dave Twardzik 26-7. The other three contests (Kevin Duckworth v. Brian Grant, Jim Paxson v. Rod Strickland, and Mychal Thompson v. Lloyd Neal) were determined by an average of three votes.
Clyde Drexler showed why he is one of the favorites to win this entire competition, posting the highest number of votes (52), 16 more than the closest competitor. If the first round was any indication, Sabonis could prove to be a legitimate threat to Drexler’s throne as the Lithuanian scored the second most votes (36) and is fresh in the minds of Rip City after returning to the Rose City for a rally last week.
Will there be any more upsets en route to the Elite Eight or will the favorites hold serve once again? Which matchup is most intriguing?
And looking ahead, which number one seeds have the toughest road to the Final Four? Be on the lookout for the first of eight second round matchups to be hitting the message boards and blogs this upcoming Wednesday! Only this time, there will be more than just a statistical write-up to determine a player’s importance to the franchise.
Bracket:The Greatest Trail Blazer Of All-Time