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Blazersedge Scrubdown Round 2, Matchup 5

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This next-to-last matchup of the second round of the Blazersedge Scrubdown, our survey to determine Portland's favorite not-quite-star Blazer of all time, contains the first of three surprises in the second round.  A silly clerical error occurred in the first round.  I read the bracket in a late-night stupor and somehow read the word "Jack" as "Pack".  Therefore Jarrett Jack did not get his appointed at-bat against Kelvin Ransey.  Instead Robert Pack got a second attempt.  This was made more problematic by the fact that Pack had won his previous matchup.  Sure enough, he won this one too.  I don't think Blazer fans would be happy simply passing Jarrett Jack to the second round with the worthies who have passed their first test so sadly, fair or not, Jarrett rides off into the sunset un-voted-upon.  Instead I am motioning to the bench (appropriate in this kind of survey) and bringing in an old favorite who wasn't part of the first-round voting.

But first, the guy you already voted to get here...

Audie Norris is an odd duck (not Oregon alum) on this list.  He doesn't have a broad NBA career upon which to draw.  He spent only three years in the league, all of them with the Blazers.  A 6'9", 230+ pound power forward selected in the second round, Norris made bank rebounding and bruising.  Nicknamed the "Atomic Dog" for his ferocity, he set up shop in the paint and tried to make sure nobody else felt comfortable there.  He averaged under 14 minutes per game for his career.  He scored 4.4 points and netted 3.1 rebounds in those minutes, neither astonishing totals.  If he ever touched the ball on offense it was either a rebound or an accident.  His offensive game during his rookie season was non-existent.  He looked a little smoother as he gained confidence but any shot beyond three feet elicited surprise from crowd and coaches alike.  His career would have been an obscure footnote in Blazer history were it not for the 1984-85 first round playoff series versus the Dallas Mavericks.  With a brief respite in 1983, Portland fans had endured a playoff-advancement drought since the championship season.  They sat through two nail-bitingly-intense games at the start of this series, a two-overtime loss and an overtime victory in Dallas.  With the series tied 1-1 Portland had won the third game handily but the Blazers needed Game 4 at home to clinch, else they would return to Dallas for the deciding contest.  As was typical of the series this game went down to the wire, tied at 113 with Portland in possession and the clock dwindling to nothing.  Whatever play Coach Jack Ramsay called in his final timeout, Dallas covered it magnificently.  The only shred of hope the Blazers could find was Norris on the baseline from 12 feet away, easily four times his effective range.  Having no choice, the Blazers tossed him the ball.  He caught it, shot it, and...Ka-SWISH.  Portland pulls out the series and heads to the second round while fans go crazy and teammates shake their heads with incredulous smiles on their faces.  The Blazers would fall to the L*kers in the next round and Norris would head to Europe to finish his professional career, but that impeccably-timed moment etched his name in franchise lore forever.

And now, stepping to the scorer's table to challenge Norris in the second round...

It's everybody's favorite gubernatorial candidate, Chris Dudley.  Dudley spent six years in the league with Cleveland and New Jersey before joining the Blazers in 1993.  He was a 6'11" defensive specialist, the kind of player you frequently ignore when he's on someone else's team but you love when he's on yours.  His offense was, to put it charitably, putrid.  This ineptitude was highlight by his "Even Shaq Would Laugh at That" free throw form and his sub-43% field goal percentage early in his career (keeping in mind we're talking about a center here).  It got to the point that he'd literally only take shots that could not be missed.  Showing his trademark stick-to-it nature, he found a way.  But the Yale grad had a mind for the game (amazing how many Portland favorites can be described thus), played defense well, and had a knack for grabbing a ton of rebounds in short minutes.  Having traded away Kevin Duckworth and acquired offensive-minded Harvey Grant and Rod Strickland, the Blazers figured that a defensive specialist fit the bill perfectly at center.  They couldn't exactly afford the asking price for Dudley to join their already-stacked (and expensive) lineup so they dodged the cap by signing him to modest deal, only the first year of which was guaranteed.  Having acquired his Bird Rights in the trade they were free to pay far more when he opted out after that first season.  The NBA immediately closed the loophole but the Blazers had their man.  After injuries destroyed his opening season with Portland Dudley settled down into a couple nice rebounding years.  His fourth season wasn't so distinguished.  With the Blazers tiring of playing 4-on-5 on offense no matter what the defensive benefits, they traded Dudley to the Knicks in 1997 for picks that later became Valparaiso's Bryce Drew (himself traded immediately in the deal that brought Damon Stoudamire to Portland) and Taurean Green.  Dudley's unique defensive contributions and his integrity fighting diabetes and opposing drivers alike combined to make him an all-time Portland favorite.

So who advances to the semi-final round, Norris or Dudley?  You decide below.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com) 

traded him to New York in 1997