Portland Trail Blazers

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Portland Trail Blazers

When you think of Portland, Oregon, basketball and the Trail Blazers are hard to ignore. Formed as an expansion team in 1970, the Blazers, a nod to the legendary Lewis and Clark Expedition, quickly became a mainstay in the Western Conference of the NBA.

Despite a rough start, finishing last in their division for most of their first six seasons, Sidney Wicks, a beacon of hope, shone through. Drafted in 1971, Wicks snagged an all-star spot for four consecutive years.

The Unexpected Champions of ’77

Then came the 1976-77 season. Transformed and reinvigorated, the team celebrated its first winning record of 49-33. The playoffs witnessed this spirited team, led by Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, and Lionel Hollins and steered by coach Jack Ramsay, overpowering teams like the Bulls, Nuggets, and Lakers.

And when it came to the NBA finals against the Philadelphia 76ers, a 0-2 start was simply a minor hurdle. Four consecutive victories later, Portland reveled in their first NBA championship.

A Period of Challenges and Revivals

The next few seasons saw a pattern. The Blazers consistently made it to the playoffs but were halted in the early stages.

In 1982โ€“83, they began a remarkable 21-year streak of playoff appearances. 1983 introduced Clyde Drexler to the roster, a name synonymous with the Blazers. He set franchise records in scoring and rebounding during his 12-year stint with the team. However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

The 1984 NBA draft still stings for many fans, choosing Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan. But by 1989-90, the trio of Drexler, Terry Porter, and Jerome Kersey elevated the Blazers to the NBA finals. Unfortunately, the Detroit Pistons proved too formidable.

Unfortunate Streaks and Nicknames

The 90s saw the Blazers fluctuating. A conference finals loss against the Lakers after a record-setting season and a heart-wrenching finals defeat against the Bulls were notable setbacks. An unenviable streak of first-round exits followed this.

The late ’90s and early 2000s were tumultuous. An infamous nickname, Jail Blazers, emerged due to players’ legal woes. This era marked the end of the playoff streak and initiated a rebuilding phase.

New Era and Rising Stars

By the late 2000s, the Blazers returned to the playoffs under Brandon Roy’s leadership. However, Roy’s premature retirement in 2011 led to a short slump. The transformation began in 2013-14.

The Blazers were back in playoff contention with 21 more wins than the previous season. After a predicted downturn in 2015, Damian Lillard emerged as the team’s driving force. Despite a roller-coaster performance in 2016-17 and 2017-18, Lillard, supported by CJ McCollum, carried the team to the next season’s conference finals.


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