The 2010’s did not start off as one of the more exciting times to be a Portland Trail Blazers fan.
Yes, the “Jail Blazer” era ended in the mid-2000’s, culminating in the arrival of Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. But amid a lockout-shortened season in which veterans seemed to turn on soon-to-be-ex-head-coach Nate McMillan, it was hard to see just what was coming on the other side.
But something seemed to change when the Blazers drafted Damian Lillard out of Weber State in 2012. In the years since, Blazers fans have witnessed some of the biggest shots in team history, a fourth-quarter playoff comeback for the ages, and the team’s first Western Conference Finals appearance since 2000.
In the most recent episode of his podcast In the Rose Garden (subscription required), The Athletic’s Jason Quick delves into the past decade of Blazer basketball including how he decided on his all-decade team, the peak of Aldridge’s time in Portland, and the trade with the Nets that started it all.
Quick begins his podcast by delving deeper into why he chose McCollum over Matthews for the shooting guard spot on his Trail Blazers all-decade team.
“Wesley Matthews I gave serious consideration to because Wes was so important to those teams. Not only was he a great three point shooter and a great defender, but I used to say that he was kinda the heart rate of the locker room. He had a pulse of the team and was the guy who would get pissed off at teammates when they needed a kick in the butt and he was always playing through injuries. He just set a great tone on top of being a great two-way player.”
Quick also admitted that he considered Harkless, but could not justify slotting him over Nicolas Batum.
Later in the podcast Quick discussed what he believed may have been the best transaction in team history, one that he argues eclipses the Buck Williams for Sam Bowie trade which sparked a pair of NBA Finals runs in the 90’s.
”The best thing that happened was they traded a bunch of those guys and one of those trades was Gerald Wallace to New Jersey for their first round pick and that pick ended up being Damian Lillard who is right now on pace to become the greatest Blazer ever. It’s interesting how some things come full circle where the worst moment of the decade ends up producing the greatest transition, arguably, in the history of the Blazers.”
And to top it all off, Quick just had to bring up arguably one of the most polarizing Blazers of the decade: Raymond Felton.
”If you come to Portland and you half-ass it or you’re a jerk, they remember. They do not forget that kind of stuff. Raymond Felton paid a price for the way he conducted himself in that year in Portland.”
While games may be difficult to watch at this point in time, it’s important to look back in time and appreciate some of the highs that defined the decade. Whether it be that Roy-led playoff comeback against the Mavericks or the Blazers outlasting the Nuggets in seven games last summer, there has been a lot to smile about in Rip City over the past few seasons.
You can listen to Quick’s entire podcast on The Athletic (subscription required.)
And if you want to relive any of these moments, I have assembled some videos for nostalgia’s sake here: