Heading into the All-Star break, the Trail Blazers were riding high, sitting atop the NBA leaderboard with their league-best 39-9 record. And where the winners are, the accolades are sure to follow. Joining head coach Rick Adelman
were three members of his coaching staff, assistants John Wetzel and Jack Schalow along with trainer Mike Shimesnky accompanying him on the sidelines. There would be more familiar faces for Coach Adelman during the NBA’s annual mid-season break as three Trail Blazers were awarded with All-Star bids for their performance during the first-half of the season.
Although the Trail Blazers were ahead of the pack throughout the first four months of the NBA season, they still played in a small market, which hurt their appeal to the casual fan, resulting in no players being voted in by the fans. Each member of the Trail Blazers starting five found themselves in the top 10 of fan-voting
for their respective positions, but none were even close to making the cut. Clyde Drexler received 349,995 votes – third behind Magic Johnson and Kevin Johnson – while his running mate in the backcourt Terry Porter got 196,653 votes – eight most among Western guards. Forwards Jerome Kersey and Buck Williams earned 262,217 and 215,534 votes respectively – fifth and eight among forwards. And Kevin Duckworth obtained 152,259 votes – fourth among centers. Surprisingly, San Antonio’s David Robinson was the West’s leading vote getter, edging out Magic with his 695,519 votes and to no one’s surprise, the overall leader was Chicago’s Michael Jordan with 1,217,429 votes.
But if you were to ask any player, being voted in by opposing coaches carries much more clout. Rival staffs having to face the onslaught that was the 1991 Trail Blazers knew all too well from first-hand experience just how deserving they all were to make the All-Star team. But once the starters were chosen only seven available spots were up for grabs, leaving a couple of the Portland starters out in the cold. Nevertheless, Clyde Drexler, Kevin Duckworth and Terry Porter were all chosen as All-Star reserves marking only the second time the Trail Blazers have had three All-Stars on the same squad – the other being in 1978 when Lionel Hollins, Maurice Lucas, and Bill Walton made the cut. For Drexler it would be his fifth All-Star appearance and Duckworth’s second (1989). But like his coach, Terry Porter would be surrounded by the best on the brightest of stages for the very first time.
Before the main event could take place on Sunday, the Trail Blazers had some business to take care of during All-Star Saturday Night. As the NBA 3-point Shootout would as well have a distinct Trail Blazer flavor to it. Representing Rip City would be sharp-shooters Danny Ainge, Clyde Drexler, and Terry Porter – the first time in franchise history the team would have more than two participants in the long-range competition. Ainge was the contest veteran as this one would be his fourth (and final) go-round, whereas Drexler and Porter were new to the experience.
With Portland having three of the group’s eight competitors, their chances of winning it all seemed highly probable but hopes of winning anything were nearly derailed in the opening round. Drexler’s score of eight was dead last and Porter needed to win a 30-second shoot-off with Golden State’s Tim Hardway after each posted an identical score of 15 to advance. Showing not only his shooting touch but experience in shooting contests, Ainge cruised into the semifinals by posting an 18, second only to Chicago’s Craig Hodges’ 20. But Danny couldn’t keep his rhythm in the following round, only putting up 11 points, ending any hopes for an all-Trail Blazer final. Although Terry carried the Trail Blazer banner to the finals, his score of 14 was enough to power pass Orlando’s Dennis Scott (12), he was ousted in the finals by the reigning champion Hodges, 17-12. To this day, no Trail Blazer has ever won the 3-Point Shooting contest. In fact, it has been 15 years since the Rose City had anyone entered to win. The only other shooters Rip City has been fortunate enough to send to the contest has been Kiki Vandeweghe in 1987
, Porter again, this time in 1993, and Cliff Robinson in 1996.
The fun didn’t stop at the 3-point contest as former Trail Blazers Head Coach Jack Ramsay led the Western Conference Legends, which featured The Enforcer, Maurice Lucas. During the eight edition of the Legends Classic, the Eastern Conference took home bragging rights over their Western counterparts, winning 41-34.
Once the appetizers had been consumed on All-Star Saturday night, it was time for Sunday’s main entrée – the 1991 NBA All-Star Game. Held in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Charlotte Coliseum on February 10th, the Eastern Conference was looking to win their ninth contest in 13 tries, continuing their reign over the West during the 41st edition of the All-Star Game. Coaching opposite Rick Adelman was Boston’s Chris Ford who seemed determined to win this mid-season classic at any cost, playing Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing all over 30 minutes compared to Adelman who only played one Western Conference All-Star – Karl Malone —over 30.
The West fought back from a nine-point halftime deficit to make it a back and forth affair late into the game, but could never quite get over the hump and actually tie it up. With less than two minutes to play, the Western All-Stars had multiple occasions to take control of the game but they missed shots, threw the ball out of bounds and committed offensive violations resulting in a 116-114 loss to the Eastern Conference
. Philadelphia’s Charles Barkley was named MVP as he posted 17 points, a game-high 22 rebounds, and four assists.
None of the three Trail Blazers really stood out, which happens a lot of the times to the reserves. The fans vote in who they want to see play and the majority of the time the head coach abides by that philosophy, giving the starters most of the floor time. Clyde Drexler had the best night of the Trail Blazers trio as he put up 12 points (4-9 FG), four rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block in 19 minutes. Also in 19 minutes of action, Kevin Duckworth posted six points (2-3 FG), four rebounds, and one steal during his second go-round. And in his All-Star debut, Terry Porter got his feet wet, playing 15 minutes and scored four points (2-6 FG), grabbed three rebounds, handed out four assists, swiped two steals, and sent back one block. This would be Duck’s last hurrah as an NBA All-Star while Clyde would go on to play in three more All-Star Games as a Trail Blazer (92-94), and Terry once more (93).