It’s been a while since the Portland Trail Blazers have hung a new jersey in the rafters. After hanging eight from 1979 to 1993, the team has only retired three numbers since: Clyde Drexler’s no. 22 in 2001, Lionel Hollins’ no. 14 in 2007, and no. 30 of Bobby Gross and Terry Porter’s in 2008. Who will be the next Blazer legend to have his jersey hang in the Moda Center rafters?
Here’s the current list:
- Larry Weinberg, owner, no. 1
- Dave Twardzik, guard, no. 13
- Lionel Hollins, guard, no. 14
- Larry Steele, guard, no. 15
- Maurice Lucas, forward, no. 20
- Clyde Drexler, guard, no. 22
- Bobby Gross/Terry Porter, forward/guard, no. 30
- Bill Walton, center, no. 32
- Lloyd Neal, forward/center, no. 36
- Geoff Petrie, guard, no. 45
- Jack Ramsay, coach, no. 77
Notes: As team owner and founder, Weinberg’s number is still available to players. Former Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely has also had his “microphone” retired by the team.
Portland is an interesting case in that, they haven’t fielded a huge amount of all-time, All-NBA greats. This has led to some players’ jerseys being retired because they were part of a beloved team, despite not putting up impressive numbers. This makes the criteria a little different in Portland than it would be in L.A.
With that in mind, here are my four most likely Blazers to have their numbers retired:
Jerome Kersey - no. 25
While he wasn’t as big a scorer as Drexler or Porter, or as bruising a rebounder as Buck Williams, Jerome Kersey was a core starter for one of the most beloved eras of Trail Blazers basketball. He spent 11 years with the team, averaging 12 points and six rebounds a game. But during a seven-year run from 1986-87 to 1992-93 Kersey averaged 15 points and nearly eight rebounds a night while helping lead the Blazers to two NBA Finals in three years.
After his playing career wrapped, Kersey also spent time with the Blazers as the Director of Player Programs and as a team ambassador before his untimely passing in 2015.
Brandon Roy - no. 7
Did he play long enough? That’s the only question. There’s no denying Roy’s talents on the court; during his five seasons in a Trail Blazers uniform, Roy averaged 19 points, four rebounds, and five assists. He was the 2006-07 Rookie of the Year, made the All-Star Game three consecutive seasons, and racked up a series of moments that live on in Blazers lore.
Perhaps more importantly for a large subset of fans, Roy represented a passing of the torch from the dark days of the Jail Blazers era to an era where fans felt hopeful and weren’t ashamed to root for the team again. It’s easy to forget how much the city had tuned the Trail Blazers out during the mid-2000’s. Brandon Roy made Portland care about the Blazers again.
LaMarcus Aldridge - no. 12
Does it matter how he left? Aldridge said that he wanted “to be the best Trail Blazer ever” and despite his ultimate departure to the San Antonio Spurs, he’s pretty high up the list. Once considered the third-fiddle to Roy and Greg Oden, Aldridge was Mr. Consistent during his best years, averaging 19 points and eight rebounds over his nine-season stint with the club. He averaged between 18 and 23 points per game every season after his rookie campaign. Very rarely in team history has a player sustained the individual success over the extended period of time that Aldridge did.
Damian Lillard no. 0
If things keep up for Lillard for a few more seasons, Lillard’s no. 0 (or will it be the letter O?) will inevitably hang in the rafters of the Moda Center. He has the on-court impact of Roy, the off-court adoration of Kersey, and the sustained production of Aldridge all wrapped into one player. In his six seasons as a Blazer, Lillard has won Rookie of the Year, been named an All-Star three times, been named All-NBA three times, set the franchise record for single game scoring, made the playoffs for five straight seasons, and given Blazers fans one of the most iconic moments in franchise history with his series-clinching buzzer-beater against the Houston Rockets.
Will anyone get their jersey retired before Lillard does? Will fans have to wait to retire to see another jersey retirement or will one of the players mentioned above (or someone else altogether) get in soon? Let us know in the comments!