Trips down memory lane are usually fun for Portland Trail Blazers fans. Today we veer more towards “interesting” with a stop by “mildly unpleasant”, thanks to a Blazer’s Edge reader and his still-simmering anger over the worst era in franchise history.
Longer term fan here. As much as I love the new team I can’t get over the suffering of the jail Blazers in the early 00s. It’s not like it bugs me every day but I still feel something rise in my throat when I remember how hard it was to be a fan during that time. So I want to know who’s your least favorite Blazer from that time? I can tell you right now that Sheed will always be mine. CTC was too much. Tell me you dislike him as much as I did.
Dude, if you’re still sweating a player 15 years on...
Rasheed Wallace had plenty of moments. His technical fouls ended up hurting the Blazers on the court. His play during the last few months of his tenure—the same stretch that produced “Cut the Check”—was hard to watch. You could tell his heart wasn’t in it.
But Rasheed Wallace was also an amazing player. Passing, defense, using his body to get separation, the sweetness of his shot...he even went three-point crazy before doing so was cool. The guy could play. I wouldn’t want to rehearse the backstage stuff again, but even admitting it was a distraction, I’d take ‘Sheed on the current Trail Blazers roster right now without a second thought. He would bring the Blazers near the top of the conference instantly.
Due to years of great play—don’t forget he drove the Blazers to, and through, multiple playoff runs, two of them quite deep—the memories of ‘Sheed’s talent will endure longer than the ruckus of his departure. At this point he’s like a returning heel from the WWE Attitude era. (I know, that’s the second wrestling reference in as many weeks. I’m just trying to make the staff mark out.) Once upon a time the crowd booed him, now they remember the shows he put on and give him appreciation, even if former biases make it somewhat grudging.
People forget that plenty of Jailblazers were despised after the millennium turned...most for good reason. ‘Sheed was simply the most famous. Bonzi Wells was another example; self-centered play and horrible PR buried his burgeoning career. Many folks oversold Derek Anderson in their own minds when Portland acquired him. Lackluster performances followed by health and commitment questions made him a pariah towards the end of his run in Portland. Who could forget Qyntel Woods and the driver’s license/playing card fiasco? Shawn Kemp got paid a billion dollars, could barely move, and struggled through his own public relations nightmares. The list goes on and on.
If you’re asking me, Kemp was the biggest disappointment on the court while Wells was the largest overall nightmare, taking my personal “least favorite Jailblazer” crown. But since there’s a buffet of awfulness laid out before us, let’s throw it open to readers. Those who lived through the era—or even its aftermath full of “Ball Don’t Lie” and “Both Teams Played Hard” quotes—time to rally. Which Blazers player defined the Jailblazers most for you, your least favorite of the cast of characters who inhabited Portland’s uniforms between 2001-2005? Let us know below.
—Dave @blazersedge / @davedeckard / firstname.lastname@example.org