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. 79 | Jim Barnett
Games Played with Blazers: 78 Regular Season, 0 Postseason
*PTS: 18.5 | AST: 4.1 | REB: 4.8 | FG%: 43.6
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: May 1970, acquired from the San Diego Rockets for Larry Siegfried
Departed Club: March 1971, traded to the San Francisco Warriors for two second-round picks and a third-round pick
Place in History: Only a few one-year wonders are cracking our Top 100 List: Robert Pack at #91, Enes Kanter at #2... but if anyone has a claim to relevance after a single season, it might be Jim Barnett. He played in Portland’s inaugural 1970-71 season, prehistoric times for most Trail Blazers fans. The team only won 29 games. Rookie of the Year Geoff Petrie garnered most of the attention, scoring 25 per game. But when Petrie wasn’t lighting it up, Barnett was right there, pouring in 18.5 points along with 4.8 rebounds and 4.1 assists—a stat line that would have earned him $18 million per year if he maintained it today.
The Blazers’ version of Barnett was a cutthroat scorer. Somebody had to take the shots in that expansion lineup, and he was going to get his due. It didn’t matter if he was 25 feet away (in a league that would not adopt the three-point shot for another decade) or flicking shots in the lane; conscience went out the window when Barnett saw the net. He wasn’t a ball hog; his assist total will testify to that. He evidenced justifiably high confidence in his own scoring ability. If his teammates weren’t involved in that particular trip down the court, that’s why later plays existed.
Barnett was involved in two seminal moments in franchise history. He scored the team’s first points ever on a free throw in the first quarter of their inaugural game. More significantly, it was his long shot against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971 that caused broadcaster Bill Schonely to utter the iconic phrase, “Rip City” for the first time.
18 points per and inspiring one of the greatest catchphrases in professional sports history are enough to get Barnett into the 79th slot in our list of Blazers Top 100 players and influencers.