Tuesday night, the Portland Trailblazers put a bruising 137-97 beatdown on the San Antonio Spurs. Okay, the Spurs were sitting Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, but that’s not my point.
Only a few seasons ago, it appeared that the Blazers were on their way to wins over the NBA’s best on a consistent basis.
Portland had potential. Brandon Roy was a superstar. He was a gifted scorer and made an immediate impact after spending four years at University of Washington.
Roy was a member of an outstanding draft class in 2006. LaMarcus Aldridge was picked second by the Chicago Bulls, but was traded to the Blazers in exchange for the No. 4 pick, Tyrus Thomas.
Roy was then taken four spots after Aldridge at No. 6, but he too was not picked by Portland. He was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves. However, he was traded to the Rip City for the No. 7 pick, Randy Foye.
Those two trades should go down as some of the biggest steals on draft night. Thomas plays for the Bobcats and at this point, I don’t even acknowledge them as a team. Foye has been a journeyman, with his third team in six seasons.
Aldridge, a 2012 All-Star, matched with Roy’s scoring production looked to be the strong stable for a team on the rise.
Then in 2007, Portland won the Greg Oden sweepstakes taking the big man with the No. 1 overall pick.
Those three should have led Portland deep into the playoffs, maybe even racking up a few titles. But injuries, like Portland is so familiar with, ended that rapidly.
Roy had to retire after last season due to knee injuries. Oden has only played in 82 games in his career and is facing another microfracture surgery.
Please note: If you’re one of those people who say “the Blazers should have taken Kevin Durant,” please cross NBA general manager off your list of potential jobs. Portland already had scorers, and Oden was being groomed as the No. 1 overall pick after his junior year of high school.
Either way, in a city like Portland that loves basketball (given that it’s the only game in town), it’s heartbreaking to see so much potential fall through.
The team that was ready to make a run at the Western Conference’s elite a few seasons ago is now in limbo.
The Portland front office salvaged the team for a while by trading for Gerald Wallace last year, but the Trailblazers are stuck in a middle ground. They aren’t good enough to compete with Oklahoma City and Los Angeles (Clippers as weird as that sounds). But they aren’t bad enough to get a top pick in 2012.
It’s either stubbornly move forward or put a troubled past behind and build this team around Aldridge through the draft.
To live in the northwest and be a basketball fan is not something I envy at this point.
If everything went to plan, Portland would have a legitimate contender, and Seattle would still have a franchise.
It only makes matters worse that Oklahoma City is tops in the west.
Two cities in love with basketball have nothing to really show for it.