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Mike Tokito helps us out in the retiring numbers conversation with a copy of this piece he wrote for the Oregonian last month.


Who's next?
By Mike tokito
The Oregonian
Sunday,March 4, 2007

When the Trail Blazers played at Seattle on Monday, the Sonics retired the No. 24 of Spencer Haywood in a halftime ceremony. That raised a question: Who will be the next Portland player to have his number raised to the Rose Garden rafters?

Many say Terry Porter, point guard of the 1980s and '90s Blazers, should have his No. 30 retired. Porter's case isn't as clear cut as that of his backcourt mate, Clyde Drexler, whose No. 22 jersey was retired in 2001, but Porter seems to have plenty in his favor.

Porter played 10 seasons for the Blazers, during which he averaged 14.9 points, 7.0 assists and 3.5 rebounds. He is the franchise's career leader for assists (5,319), three-point attempts (2006) and makes (773), and is second behind Drexler in points (11,330), minutes (23,978), steals (1,182), field goals made (4,101), free throw attempts (3,020) and makes (2,555), and triple doubles (seven).

Porter twice was chosen to the All-Star Game, and he was awarded the 1993 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award. He twice helped the Blazers reach the NBA Finals, in 1990 and 1992. And although it is hard to gauge, his popularity among Blazers fans might rival that of Drexler's.

Porter now is an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons (who play the Blazers at the Rose Garden on March 14). Ironically, the No. 30 has been worn by one other Portland player since Porter left the Blazers as a free agent in 1995: Rasheed Wallace, one of the players Porter coaches for the Pistons.

The Blazers have retired seven numbers of former players (numbers also hang for former owner Larry Weinberg and coach Jack Ramsay, and a microphone for broadcaster Bill Schonely). Five of the players were from the 1977 championship team. Is it time for another player to join Drexler from the team's second glory period?

There is no set, or league-mandated, method for determining which numbers are retired, and with Thursday's change in Blazers upper management, retiring Porter's number might not be a priority, even with the Pistons coming to town in less than two weeks.

But it's certainly a worthwhile conversation. For comparison, here are the numbers and names, along with key statistics and facts, that hang in the Rose Garden rafters.

13 --DAVE TWARDZIK
Seasons with Portland: 4 (1976-1980)

Key Blazers statistics: 9.5 points, 3.4 assists, 55.2 field goal percentage, 82.3 free throw percentage.

Noteworthy: A key cog in the 1977 championship team. . . Joined the Blazers after playing four seasons in the ABA.

15 --LARRY STEELE
Seasons with Portland: 9 (1971-1980)

Key Blazers statistics: 8.2 points,2.9 rebounds, 2.8 assists.

Noteworthy: Averaged a career-high 10.3 points during the 1976-77 championship season. . . . A third-round pick who played his entire pro career with the Blazers.

20 --MAURICE LUCAS
Seasons with Portland: 5 (1976-1980, 1987-88)

Key Blazer statistics: 15.6 points, 8.7 rebounds

Noteworthy: Led the 1976-77 championship team in
scoring with 20.2 points and 11.3 rebounds. . . . A three-time All-Star Game pick with Portland. . . . First-team NBA All-Defensive pick in 1977-78, second-team pick in 1978-79. . . . A current assistant coach with the Blazers.

22 --CLYDE DREXLER

Seasons with Portland: 12 (1983-1995)

Key Blazer statistics: 20.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.7 assists

Noteworthy: Franchise career leader for points
(18,040), rebounds (5,339), steals (1,795), games
played (867) and minutes (29,526). . . Selected for eight All-Star Games. . . Led the Blazers to the 1990 and 1992 NBA Finals. . . . Had 21 career triple doubles, 14 more than any other Portland player.

32 --BILL WALTON
Seasons with Portland: 5 (1974-1979 -- missed 1978-79 season because of an injured foot)

Key Blazer statistics: 17.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.6 blocks

Noteworthy: Won the league's Most Valuable Player
award in 1977-78, when he averaged 18.9 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists in 58 games before breaking his foot. Remains the only league MVP in franchise history. . . . Was 1977 NBA Finals MVP. . . . Played in two All-Star Games.

36 --LLOYD NEAL
Seasons with Portland: 7 (1972-1979)

Key Blazer statistics: 11.1 points, 7.7 rebounds

Noteworthy: A key reserve on the 1977 championship  team. . . . Played his entire career with the Blazers, who drafted him in the third round in 1972.

45 --GEOFF PETRIE
Seasons with Portland: 6 (1970-1976)

Key Blazer statistics: 21.8 points, 4.6 assists

Noteworthy: The first draft pick in franchise history, he was voted the 1971 NBA Rookie of the Year. . . . A two-time All-Star Game selection. . . . The only player in franchise history to twice score 50 or more points in a game.

When you see some of those numbers in front of your face...hmmmmmm.  That's all I have to say.  Hmmmmmm.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)