The Trail Blazers’ 50-year anniversary season is temporarily on pause as the NBA goes on hiatus to slow the spread of COVID-19. During that break, Blazer’s Edge is counting down the top 100 Blazers: players, executives, and other influencers who made the franchise what it is today.
No. 95 | Caldwell Jones
Games Played with Blazers: 309 Regular Season | 15 Postseason
*PTS: 4.0 | REB: 4.9 | BLK: 1.0 | FG%: 47.8
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: October 1985, free agent
Departed Club: July 1989, free agent
Place in History: The Portland Trail Blazers of the mid-1980’s were a rocket stuck on the launching pad. They sported an array of high-octane scorers, including Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Jim Paxson, Kiki Vandeweghe, Mychal Thompson, and Terry Porter. Center Sam Bowie was supposed to be the magic mixer, jelling the lineup into its final form. When his chronic leg injuries took away that possibility, Portland turned to an old wooden spoon: Caldwell Jones. Jones was an anachronism on the roster. While the guards and forwards were 20-somethings who could jump out of the gym, Jones was already a 35-year-old in year one of his Portland tenure. He had played in the ABA. He’d been a stalwart for the Philadelphia 76’ers teams that had battled Bill Walton and the Blazers a decade earlier. It was like tuning in to see Teen Titans Go and finding Professor X sitting among them.
Yet somehow, it worked. Jones usually got one play run for him, the very first one of the game. After that, he settled down to rebound, block shots, defend the rim, and never touched the ball again except in cases of emergency. Everybody else drew headlines; he drew paychecks and, for more than half of his tenure, the starting nod. The Blazers had Bowie, Kevin Duckworth, and Steve Johnson manning the middle during his time, yet somehow they just couldn’t quit Caldwell.
At least publicly, Jones seemed to have a calming effect on the team as well. He evidenced unselfishness. He was professional. He gave his teammates a longer view than quibbling over who would score 20 that night. When they referenced him in interviews, it was with respect bordering on reverence. The old man still had something to give. For more than 300 games over four seasons, he gave it. When he left, his teammates had grown enough to ascend to the Western Conference Finals. They didn’t need him anymore, but one can’t help but think they owed him thanks nonetheless.
Discuss your memories or observations of Caldwell Jones below, and check back multiple times every weekday as we continue to countdown to No. 1.