If you told me one month ago that Dwight Jaynes and Terry Porter would be talking about Honor Terry Porter I probably would have kissed you, creating an extremely awkward situation for me, you and your significant other.
But, as Dave mentioned last week, Mr. Jaynes and Mr. Porter did briefly pow wow on the topic of retired jerseys. Having grown up on the work of both men, their brief conversation was this Blazers fan's dream come true.
Having the opportunity to watch the 2007-2008 team up close, of course, was another dream. Seeing the players' mood swings; watching them interact; witnessing some of them taking big steps forward... all part of one giant fan dream.
With that thought in mind, I turn to Mr. Jaynes who, along with Kerry Eggers, knew the Blazers of the early 1990s better than anyone outside of the organization itself. Who better to ask whether Mr. Porter deserves his jersey in the rafters?
Consider the following a postscript to Mr. Jaynes' conversation with Mr. Porter (and consider it a brief trip down memory lane, to a time before Tim Donaghy left us questioning our collective existence).
Blazersedge: How did Porter stack up against the glut of great point guards that were in the NBA in the early 1990s?
What Terry did was maximize his strengths... He was a physical point guard who could shoot from the outside... He had a good knack for setting other people up but the way the Blazers were configured during his tenure made him the sort of point guard that Kerr was - allow the off-guard to handle the ball, spot up for open 3s and then find open people.
Terry was hard to categorize... He could do a little of everything - defend, score, penetrate, rebound, and he made big shots. A lot of them. And was a terrific competitor. He'd fight you all night. He wasn't the best in any of the things he did well... But the fact he could do them all made him special. Was he a Stockton? No, but he defended and rebounded better. Was he Magic? Of course not, but he shot it better from the outside. Was he Isaiah? Nope, but he rebounded better and defended better. The guy could step up on a given night and give you whatever you needed.
Blazersedge: Off the court, Porter won the NBA citizenship award for his service. Any specific work you remember him doing in the community or any interactions you witnessed that show off his character?
It's been too long to remember specific things... Too many games between then and now, I guess. What I remember is that he was quiet, modest and kind... To fans and to media. He was so popular here - people identified with the small-school guy who made it big. He seemed so at home in Portland. He fit so well here. Wasn't pretentious or egomaniacal. And he never made excuses - and I mean NEVER.
Blazersedge: Can you speak to the question: "why retire Terry Porter's jersey now?"
The thing about retired numbers is that I believe the player needs to have connected with the fans... There has to be something special there. Terry did that longer than most. He didn't call attention to himself.
Why now? Because it's probably long overdue. This guy's credentials rank him among the all-time best this franchise has to offer.
Consider this afterthought: After watching Game 4 of the NBA Finals, in an attempt to answer the question, "Exactly how much worse is Kobe Bryant than Michael Jordan?" (Answer: Exponentially), I popped in a DVD of Jordan's 6 three-pointer game from the 1992 Finals. Despite the ugly blowout that the game turned into, Terry started 5 for 5, draining jumpers from all over the court, matching Jordan -- ever so briefly in the first quarter -- basket for basket.
I mention this because that performance is guaranteed to be an afterthought (a neverthought, really) in the annals of basketball history. The same shouldn't be true of the man's entire body of work. That is why we will continue to make a point of honoring Terry Porter until his jersey is retired, in hope that his legacy will live on, as Mike Golub mentioned, long after all of us are gone.
-- Ben (firstname.lastname@example.org)