Portland Trail Blazers All-Time Most Disappointing Acquisitions #13: James "Hollywood" Robinson

A few days ago someone wrote in and asked where Greg Oden would rank among Portland Trail Blazer disappointments if he never played again for the team.  In response we're making a list of the Top 15 Blazer Disappointments of All Time...an All-Disappointment Team if you will.  This covers not just draft picks but any acquisition via draft, trade, or free agency.

Coming in at #13, one James "Hollywood" Robinson.  Admittedly it's hard to be too disappointing when you're selected 21st in the first round as Robinson was in 1993.  Nothing's guaranteed that deep in the draft.  But Robinson had more going for him than his draft status.  He was a 20 ppg scorer for Alabama with a nifty drive, wicked moves, and even a serviceable jumper.  His highlight-reel-worthy career and out-sized attitude earned him the nickname "Hollywood".  Even so, Robinson had plenty of doubters when his name was called for the Blazers.  An increasingly-savvy (and somewhat spoiled with success) lot of Portland fans and media began wondering aloud how a 6'2" shooting guard was going to fare in the league.  Chris Mills and Sam Cassell had still been on the board when Robinson was selected.  The speculation led then-General Manager Geoff Petrie to proclaim that Robinson had a chance to be really special, that the Blazers saw plenty in the kid.  The idea of him playing point was floated.  Visions of 20-point masterpieces began to drift through Portland's collective consciousness.  If Petrie and the team believed in him, maybe he was that good.

Uh...not so much.

The initial experiments with Robinson at the point were disastrous.  I'll just grab my handy calculator and figure the ratio of shots to assists that he compiled.  Oops. Wait.  No can do.  It won't let me divide by zero.  So Robinson had to slide to his natural shooting guard position where he played behind Clyde Drexler and sometimes Terry Porter.  That didn't add up to many minutes.

That all changed when Drexler was traded during Robinson's second season.  Suddenly he found himself with bigger minutes, starting even.  Coach P.J. Carlisemo seemed to confirm Petrie's line about seeing something in the kid.  Finally it was, "Fly James!  Be free, James!"  This quickly morphed into, "For the love of God, pass the ball James!"  Sadly young Mr. Robinson had selective hearing.  This matched his selective court vision which most of the time extended to the limits of "Me, ball, hoop, me again."  This wouldn't have been so bad if the guy could score like he did in college, but jeepers he had trouble getting a shot off clean in the NBA.  He shot almost 41% in his second season which beat the heck out of the 36% he shot in his first and the sub-40% he ended up with for his career.  

And the defense?  Don't ask.  Dude was 6'2", remember?

If the hype surrounding Robinson hadn't been exacerbated by the Blazers he probably wouldn't have made this list.  As it was, Robinson's supposedly bright, height-negating promise proved false.  This was compounded by the kid getting too much of a chance too early and having to replace a legend on a team destined to sink.  "Hollywood" proved an apt moniker for his offense--overrated and predictable--and offense was the only thing he had going for him.  Therefore Portland's Star That Wasn't takes the #13 spot on our roll call of disappointments.

Feel free to agree, disagree, enhance with memories, and so forth in the comment section.  You can also scope out the reviews of the 14th and 15th slots, occupied by Scottie Pippen and Walter Berry.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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