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Revisiting The Trail Blazers’ Snakebitten History

SI’s Ben Golliver looks back at the Trail Blazers’ trials and tribulations, wondering how the course of NBA history would be altered had things gone differently.

Portland Trail Blazers v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Portland Trail Blazers fans, no matter what generation, have been through a lot. From the demise of Bill Walton’s health and missing out on Michael Jordan, to the career-altering injuries to Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, grave misfortune has surrounded the franchise since its inception.

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver notes that three different potential dynasties have been thwarted, either through injury or through the draft,

Armed with perfect health and reasonable luck, the Blazers would take their place alongside the Celtics and Lakers among the NBA’s glory teams. But Portland’s history has instead been sabotaged by bad breaks and blown draft picks, including the most second-guessed selection in sports history.

Golliver opines that a healthy Walton would have not only changed the Trail Blazer’s history, but possibly the 1986 Boston Celtics, considered one of the greatest NBA teams of all time. Walton came off the bench for that storied squad, and was a key cog in their success. With a healthy Roy and Oden, teamed with Lamarcus Alrdridge, Golliver believes the Trial Blazers could have challenged the 2010 Los Angeles Lakers and 2014 San Antonio Spurs, not to mention Lebron James in the East.

He also notes that by selecting Michael Jordan instead of oft-injured big man Sam Bowie, Portland would have conceivably turned into the sports capital of the world, and could have possibly parlayed that popularity into landing long-coveted MLB and NHL franchises.

Hindsight is 20/20, but Blazer’s Edge’s own Dave Deckard told Golliver that “Walton hurts more than Jordan,” further reflecting that “Losing something is harder than never having it in the first place.”

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) “what if” when it comes to Blazers history?