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Lost Trail Blazers Games I Want to See

Most of the games from the Trail Blazers early days seem to be lost to history. Here’s a selection of some forgotten classics I’d love to see.

Bill Walton, Portland Trail Blazers 1977
MILWAUKEE, WI - CIRCA 1977: Bill Walton #32 of the Portland Trail Blazers looks to shoot a free throw against the Milwaukee Bucks during an NBA basketball game circa 1977 at the MECCA Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Walton played for the Trailblazers from 1974 - 79. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Focus on Sport

The NBA’s been working on digitizing its entire archive of games for several years. Hopefully, the collection will eventually be available for fans but, in the meantime, here are a few “lost” Trail Blazers games I wish we could get a glimpse of.

Petrie Scores 51!

Very little footage seems to exist from the team’s pre-1976-77 seasons (prove me wrong, Blazers!), so any number of different games from the early days could be chosen.

For example, it’d be easy to pick the first game in team history (a 115-112 win over the Cavaliers on Oct. 16, 1970) or the first win over a marquee opponent (a 135-123 triumph over the Celtics on Dec. 27, 1970).

But I’m going to go with Geoff Petrie’s 51-point outburst in Houston against the Rockets on Jan. 20, 1973. Petrie would score 51 against the same Rockets a few weeks later, but the Blazers lost that game, so we’ll go with the road game. Former Oregonian writer Wayne Thompson recounts Petrie’s 51-point games.

Walton’s Debut Game

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Bill Walton. Magic Johnson. LeBron James.

Those four entered their rookie seasons as the most acclaimed first overall draft picks in NBA history. Walton lived up to the hype initially, dominating the NBA from the get-go until he was slowed by injuries for the first time.

Oh, by the way, Walton’s first game went into FOUR OVERTIMES (it was actually against the Cavs — forgive the typo in the tweet).

Finding film from the Big Redhead’s debut would be a major piece of league history.

Walton Playoff Triple Double

Much of the Blazers’ 1977 championship run exists, including the entire finals series against the 76ers and two games from each of the three Western Conference series.

Of the missing games, I would most like to see highlights from game 2 against the Nuggets. The Blazers lost the game, but Walton finished with 19 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists — the only playoff triple double of Walton’s career and one of only four playoff triple doubles in team history.

Billy Ray Bates Game

Every diehard BlazerManiac knows the story of Billy Ray Bates bursting onto the scene in the final weeks of the 1980 season. His stellar performances from the 1980 playoffs have survived, including this delightfully silly interview with Brent Musburger:

But Bates’ 26-point breakout game on March 15, 1980 in Chicago against the Bulls is still missing. David Halberstam described Bates’ performance in his masterpiece Breaks of the Game:

Billy more than anyone else simply took over the game. When he had the ball it was as if everyone else on the court stopped to watch him...With Portland behind by two points everyone cleared out so he could drive on the immense Artis Gilmore. He took off, drove, jumped, faked, brought gilmore up with him, pumped again, still held the ball and then, at the last second dunked. The Chicago arena broke into spontaneous applause.


As Bates walked off the court, the Chicago announcer said: “Billy Ray Bates scored points.” He paused. The Chicago crowd began to roar. “Sixteen of them in the last quarter.” The noise was deafening.

Yeah, I’d like to see that.

1981 Playoffs, Game 2 vs. Kansas City: Thompson goes for 40, Blazers win in OT

Bates set a franchise record for points per game in a playoff series in 1981 against the Kings and during game 2 of that series Mychal Thompson scored 40 points as the Blazers won in overtime. Unfortunately the only surviving clip seems to be this:

Bonus: Moses Malone Suits Up for the Blazers

Moses Malone appeared in the team’s last three pre-season games in 1976. He scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the final game on Oct. 16, but would be traded shortly thereafter. It would be amazing to see ANY footage of Malone in a Blazers uniform.

Readers, let us know what lost classic from Blazers history you’d most like to see!