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. 78 | Greg Anthony
Games Played with Blazers: 190 Regular Season, 30 Postseason
*PTS: 5.9 | AST: 2.1 | FG%: 40.2 | 3PT%: 39.1
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: January 1999, signed as free agent
Departed Club: July 2001, Traded to the Chicago Bulls for a second-round pick
Place in History: In the early months of 1999, all NBA news focused on the end of an acrimonious lockout battle between owners and players and the resumption of a shortened, 50-game season. The Portland Trail Blazers were looking to adjust to Jim Jackson, their prize new free agent. They were also looking to capitalize on a crowded frontcourt that included Rasheed Wallace, Arvydas Sabonis and Brian Grant. With the court captained by scoring wizard Damon Stoudamire, their rotation looked full and set.
Few people reckoned with another lockout signee, Greg Anthony. Anthony was a 31-year-old journeyman with a good head on his shoulders, the perfect player for a modest reserve role. He would not turn out modest, nor was his role confined to keeping the hardwood warm for more famous teammates. Anthony possessed two critical skills: he could hit three-pointers (taking more per-minute than anybody on the squad) and he could defend. BOY could he defend.
This was back in the days before point guards were given all-access passes to the paint, courtesy of “no touch” rules beyond the post. Anthony moved his feet like any good defender, but his hands were a fine instrument, playing the opposing dribbler into weak spots. Anthony wouldn’t stop the guy like prime-level Scottie Pippen. The ball-handler would think he was making progress, just shaded that much off by a bump, subtle push, or hand pressure. After a few seconds, “that much off” would turn into, “Nope! Not open.” Another play wasted.
Anthony forced turnovers, sure. He averaged more steals per game and per minute than any of his regular-rotation teammates, even Stacey Augmon. But the way opposing point guards would start thinking twice after he took the floor—even if they had prospered against other Portland defenders—was his calling card.
It didn’t take long before Anthony, though clearly still a reserve, started eating his way into Portland fourth-quarter rotation. When the outcome was coming down to a handful of possessions, Head Coach Mike Dunleavy called for #50. Anthony would perpetually rank 8th or 9th in minutes played, but those minutes would inevitably end up as some of the best of the game.
For playing an important role in a couple of Western Conference Finals runs and for proving that “3 and D” was a viable skillset 15 years before the NBA figured it out, Greg Anthony earns #78 on our list of Top 100 Trail Blazers players and influencers.
Discuss your thoughts and memories of Anthony below, and check back every day as we continue the countdown to No. 1.