The Renewal of the I-5 Rivalry

The history between the Seattle Supersonics and the Portland Blazers is a long and illustrious one. Separated by just 174 miles along the I-5 corridor, the rivalry was a Northwest passion for several decades.

The Seattle SuperSonics currently have the edge in the rivalry, with an all-time record of 98-94 over the Blazers.

"We knew that whether it was the Coliseum or the Rose Garden in Portland, the Kingdome, Key Arena or the Tacoma Dome in Washington, it was never a home game and it was always a home game. It was always a rowdy experience."

It is a rivalry that will hopefully be re-awaken by the impending move of the Sacramento Kings to the Northwest.

If the NBA Board were to accept the proposed bid to bring basketball back to Seattle in April, I have a hard time imagining a scenario, where the NBA doesn't have Seattle and Portland in the same division.


Option 1: The most simple solution, would be to just exchange the Portland Trailblazers and the Phoenix Suns.

This would create these Western Conference divisions. Geographically, it makes the most sense.

Pacific South West
Los Angeles Lakers San Antonio Spurs Denver Nuggets
Los Angeles Clippers Houston Rockets Utah Jazz
Golden State Warriors Dallas Mavericks Phoenix Suns
Portland Trailblazers Memphis Grizzlies Oklahoma City Thunder
Seattle Supersonics New Orleans Pelicans Minnesota Twolves

This would be nice for a variety of reasons, not least of all, the Blazers will finally not be one of the top 3 teams in travel miles each season.

Most importantly, it ensures that we have our division rivalry with the Sonics.

While this is is probably the most likely solution, here is an attempt to come up with a solution which, personally, makes the 'most sense' with the 'current' 30 NBA teams.

Options 2: Complete reworking of the divisions, getting rid of the Conferences: 5 divisions with 6 teams each.

Pacific Southwest Southeast Great Lakes Northeast
Los Angeles Lakers Denver Nuggets Memphis Grizzlies Milwaukee Bucks Boston Celtics
Los Angeles Clippers Utah Jazz Atlanta Hawks Detroit Pistons Toronto Rapters
Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets New Orleans Hornets Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Portland Trailblazers San Antonio Spurs Orlando Magic Indiana Pacers Brooklyn Nets
Seattle Supersonics Dallas Mavericks Miami Heat Minnesota Twolves Washington Wiz
Phoenix Suns Oklahoma City Thunder Charlotte Hornets Cleveland Cavs Philadelphia 76ers

So, initial thoughts on the updated rules (which would be required with the elimination of the Conference concept in the NBA):

Regular season Changes: Keep 82 game regular season, but foster more division rivalries.
* Play each team in division 3 times home/away(6 games * 5 teams = 30 games)
* Play each team out of division once home/away(2 games * 24 teams = 48 games)
* Play the team in your spot, from the previous year, in each other division(4 games, 2 home/2away)(much like the NFL does their scheduling)

Playoff Changes:
* Still be a 16 team playoff (each division would send their top 2 teams, and would then add the next 6 teams based off record).
* Each playoff team would get a 1-16 seeding, and the match-ups would get re-seeded after each round(again, much like the NFL does).
* No restrictions on who plays who in each round.

All-star game changes:
* Fans vote for any 12 players
* Players then vote for an additional 12 players
* Coaches of the 2 teams with the best record get to do a draft of the players a few days before the All-star game (national television).

Extra benefits:

* This would generate the natural rivalry of Oklahoma and Texas.
* This would move Minnesota into a division where they aren't 1000 miles away from their closest division team.
* Creates a new, exciting solution to the declining All-star weekend


Key Figures:

Lenny Wilkens

Lenny played for and coached for both the Seattle Supersonics and the Portland Blazers. Before he came to Portland, he was a player-coach for the Sonics for several years.

He finished his playing career here in Portland(as a player-coach), and then spent a season as just head coach of the Blazers in 1976, before leaving and returning back to coach the Sonics.

Shortly after he left, the Blazers won our only NBA Championship in 1977. But, a few years later, he was Seattle's coach when they won their only NBA Championship in 1979.

Bob Whitsitt

Whitsitt was the architect of the revival of the Sonics, bringing them from one of the worst teams, to a team that went to the NBA Finals in 90s. After he was forced out of the Sonics front office, he took over the same role here in Portland.

Known as 'Trader Bob,' he formed the Blazers teams that made it to the Western Conference finals in 1999 and 2000. He was responsible for acquiring 6x Sonic All-star Shawn Kemp to Portland in 2000, leading to the epic rebuild of the Blazers that began when Whitsitt left the Blazers in 2003.

Bringing it back to the current subject, Whitsitt worked for the Kansas City Kings(soon to be Sacramento Kings) in 1983, the year I was born.

Nate McMillan

Nate played his entire career with the original Seattle Supersonics(1986-98), and then became head coach of the Sonics from 2000-2005.

Leaving the Sonics in 2005, Nate became head coach of the Blazers from 2005-2012. He's also the most bashed person in Blazersedge history(pretty sure that is a fact).

Nate's number #10 was retired by the Seattle Supersonics.


*** My personal hope is that Phil Jackson takes over Seattle's front office, and installs Coach Nate as the head coach of the new Seattle Supersonics.***


Misc. other figures:

* Bernie Bickerstaff was head coach of the Sonics from 1985-1990, over PG Nate McMillan, before coming here to Portland, as an assistant coach for Coach Nate.

* Brandon Roy is a Seattle legend, playing his high school and college in Washington, before coming here to Portland...

* Detlef Schrempf was a 2x All-star for Seattle in the 90s, before signing with Portland in 1999 for our Western Conference run.

* Kevin Durant was the last first round pick by the Sonics, before their OKC move. He played his rookie of the year season in Seattle(The draft order that year: Portland #1 Greg Oden, Seattle #2 Kevin Durant).

* Gary Payton went to college down in Corvallis(Oregon State) before being drafted #2 overall in 1990 by the Seattle Sonics.

* PJ Carlesimo got his head coaching start in Portland(1994-1997), and was Sonics head coach in their final year in Seattle(2007-2008).


Currently, there is a growing rivalry between Seattle and Portland, via the Timbers-Sounders, but it could get so much bigger shortly...

Whatever happens in the coming months, I'm hopeful of a renewal of the I-5 rivalry with the Seattle Supersonics.

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Blazer's Edge

You must be a member of Blazer's Edge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blazer's Edge. You should read them.

Join Blazer's Edge

You must be a member of Blazer's Edge to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blazer's Edge. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.