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The History of the Portland Trail Blazers: The Early Era

Blazer's Edge reminisces about the history of the Portland Trail Blazers. First up: Memories of the early years.

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Harry How

Over the next few days I'm going to take you on a trip--part personal, part historical--through the evolution of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise from its inception to the modern day.  Here's the thing, though.  I only came on board with the '77 championship and even then I was a young child.  Once the championship happens it's all good because the trip isn't meant to be a dry, chronological analysis.  It's meant to be a personal journey framed by the significant events of each era, letting those who weren't there get a feel for what the team and its fans have been through; inviting those who were there to share their own perspectives.  Obviously that doesn't work when I didn't have any perspective on the era in question, though!  Rather than just recounting the events of 1970-76 (which can be found in many sources, most notable the team's recent Blazermania tome) I'm going to invite those who did experience this era to share their own reflections.

The time frame in question is the fall of 1970 when the team played its first game through the spring of 1976, stopping short of the actual championship season.  If you were around during this time, share with us what it was like.This could include the following:

  • What were you, personally, doing during this time?
  • What was your connection with the Blazers?  Why and how did you get, and stay, interested during this particular time frame?
  • What was the perception of the team around Portland?  (Keep in mind, this is the pre-Championship era...nothing from the '76-'77 season yet.)
  • What were the most significant events?  (Draft picks, in-game performances, trades, coaches, the team awakening the cultural consciousness somehow...whatever you found most significant is great.)  Did any of these events mark a sub-era within the greater era and what was the significance of that dividing line?  I'm thinking, for instance, that the drafting of Bill Walton may have changed perceptions about the team even before he actually won the title.  Is that true and are there others?
  • Anything that doesn't shine in the "official" story, especially shocking or even negative trends that have been forgotten, would be interesting.

It's your turn early adopters!  Let us know what the Blazers looked like back in the day.  The rest of you, feel free to ask questions of the people who share their stories in the comment section.

Tomorrow: The Championship Era

--Dave (