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Why it hurts so bad: the Blazers' star-crossed history with big men (for newbies)




For those of you who aren't regular Blazersedge readers, perhaps not even Blazer fans, and have come here to sympathize, rubberneck or pile on, welcome! The Greg Oden Wake is in full effect.

If you're not aware of the Blazers' unfortunate history with drafting big dudes in the middle, here's a quick rundown of the incredible frequency of bad judgment/bad luck this organization has experienced. 

1972: The Blazers use #1 pick to select LaRue Martin as Bob McAdoo's agent comes back with last-minute demands after an initial handshake contract agreement. (Thanks to two4larue for the clarification.) Martin plays 4 nondescript seasons in Portland and is generally considered the least talented #1 pick in league history.


1974: The Blazers use #1 pick to select ...Bill Walton, a once-a-generation talent whose legs and feet last 4 injury-plagued seasons in Portland before Walton leaves in a cloud of bitterness and litigation. The one season Walton is generally healthy, 1976-77, the Blazers win the championship. The following season the Blazers are 50-10 and entering the "greatest team ever" conversation before Walton goes down and the season goes completely to crap. After trying to play on his injured feet in the playoffs and making them worse, he never plays for the Blazers again.

1976: The Blazers land the raw but spectacularly gifted Moses Malone in ABA dispersal draft but, already having Walton and not wanting to pay top dollar for a backup, trade him for draft picks. Within two seasons Malone is MVP and on his way to a long, Hall of Fame career, and the Blazers are playing skinny journeyman Tom Owens in the middle.


1984: With the #2 pick the Blazers infamously pass on Michael Jordan and instead select Kentucky center Sam Bowie, who lasts 4-and-a-half injury-plagued seasons in Portland -- though it should be noted that he was a fairly productive player when he did play, and he ended up playing quite a bit more than Greg Oden has. But still, they passed on the Greatest Player of All Time. (Silver lining: the Blazers were able to flip Bowie for Buck Williams, who ended up being an anchor on two Finals teams.)

1986: The Blazers use a late 1st round pick on 7'3" Soviet wunderkind Arvydas Sabonis, who, judging from international-competition clips from his younger, more athletic days, might have been the most talented, versatile big man ever to play the game. (He's certainly the greatest passing big man ever.) Alas -- geopolitical realities, devastating injuries and Euroleague riches prevent Sabonis from reaching Portland until 1995, by which time he's a 31-year-old man with 71-year-old knees. He becomes a fantastic role player for some very good Blazers teams, his skill set and flair making him a fan favorite (indeed, he's my favorite Blazer ever). But there's always going to be a "what if?" attached to Sabas for Rip City.


2007: With the #1 pick, won in a near-miracle draft lottery triumph, the Blazers select Greg Oden ahead of Kevin Durant and Al Horford. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

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