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. 91 | Robert Pack
Games Played with Blazers: 72 Regular Season | 14 Postseason
*PTS: 4.6| AST: 1.9 | FG%: 42.3 |
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: September 1991 as an undrafted free agent
Departed Club: October 1992, to the Denver Nuggets for a second-round pick
Place in History: It’s rare for a player who played only one season for the Blazers to make this list, especially when he averaged only 4.6 points per game and was traded for a second-round pick. But Robert Pack was special.
Pack went undrafted in 1991 after two years at USC. The Blazers absorbed him into an already-stacked roster that included Terry Porter, Danny Ainge, and Danny Young. There’s no way Pack should have been able to play, not even in garbage time. Yet he did. His combination of speed, multi-directional motion, dunk-contest-worthy leaping ability, and pure guts made it impossible to keep him off the court even though he really didn’t fit. Can you imagine an undrafted rookie looking at Ainge, Porter, Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, Buck Williams, Cliff Robinson, and Kevin Duckworth and saying, “I got this!”
The first reaction on seeing Pack take it solo among all his experienced teammates was, “What the hell???” Five seconds later it was, “WHAT THE HELL?!?!?”
Say hello to Mr. Pack.
Had Pack joined the NBA a decade or two later, he might have been accepted in the mold of Allen Iverson or John Wall. The league wasn’t ready for that. Nor were the Blazers. Pack would go on to play 13 seasons, largely in a reserve roll, plagued by chronic injuries. His best year was 1995-96, where he played and started in 31 games for the [then] Washington Bullets, scoring 18.1 points per contest. But I would argue that two accomplishments during his rookie season rank right up there with anything he achieved in the league:
- He scored in double-digits in 10 of his 72 games for Portland. You try that on a 57-win team heading back to the NBA Finals with those teammates. Only twice did he get to attempt 10 shots or more. He once scored 11 on three field goal attempts, none of them three-pointers. That’s veteran stuff there.
- Rookies were not supposed to get playing time on that roster, and they were really, really not supposed to get noticed. Nowadays a hot draft pick is made before he gets into the league, with shoes deals and posters already waiting. In ‘91-’92, the age of the draft lottery celebrity had not yet arrived. And yet, were you to walk in Fred Meyer or G.I. Joe’s in the winter of 1992, you would have seen Drexler shirts, Kersey shirts, Uncle Cliffy shirts, and hanging there right among them, a bold, black tee with Robert Pack driving to the bucket right on the front. That never happened. It wasn’t dreamed of. But nobody was keeping Pack away from that rim or off the retail-store wall.
Congrats to the 91st guy on our Top 100 list. Wish it could have been longer.
Anybody have memories of Robert Pack? Discuss them below, and check back every day as we continue to countdown towards No. 1!