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. 75 | Robin Lopez
Games Played with Blazers: 141 Regular Season, 16 Postseason
*PTS: 10.5 | REB: 7.8 | ORB: 3.7 | FG%: 54.5
*Men he Stepped Aside for: None
*Insults Swallowed: None
*Mascots Left Unflattened: None
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: July 2013, acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans for Jeff Withey and loose change
Departed Club: July 2015, departed in free agency
Place in History: Robin Lopez was 25 years old when the Trail Blazers traded for him, looking to fill a starting center spot that had never been addressed satisfactorily since Greg Oden’s knees took him out of the league in 2009. Marcus Camby and JJ Hickson had done well enough, but neither proved a permanent solution. With star forward LaMarcus Aldridge nearing free agency, the Blazers needed to put together a couple solid years, building their argument for continued relevance. Lopez was part of their attempt to do so.
2013 Robin Lopez was a gray-area player. With four years and two teams under his belt, he knew how to play. He could produce in the lane and was a willing defender. He was still young enough that his potential was untapped, particularly on the offensive end. This proved an asset in Portland. Head Coach Terry Stotts was looking for size, screen setting, and just a touch of mobility in his center. Lopez fit the bill. Heading into his first season in Portland, his offense consisted of dunks and short-range, zero-dribble moves. As Lopez acclimated, the ball touched the floor, his range improved, and he started proving an unexpected, complementary weapon for Damian Lillard and company. If opponents left to double team or didn’t move feet against screens, Lopez learned to make them pay.
The improvement shouldn’t obscure what Lopez brought to the table already: a deep understanding of the game and his role in it, hard-nosed defense, and incredible offensive rebounding. Two offensive rebounds is a lot in a game. Lopez averaged close to four over 141 appearances in Portland. For a while there, the Blazers were nasty. Between Lillard and Aldridge, they could take any shot, anywhere. Whatever the stars missed, Lopez would clean up. The only thing worse than a pair of All-Stars lining up attempts against you is watching them get another chance.
Even all that put together, though, would have left Lopez on the periphery of this list. His personality gave bumped him 15-20 extra spots easy. Whether it was the Sideshow Bob haircut, the vociferous championing of comic books, or his “Us against the World” battle against every mascot in the NBA, Lopez embodied Portland’s goofy, weird vibe in a way few other Trail Blazers have. Mention any other player on this Top 100 list and you’ll get stories and nods of respect. Mention Lopez and they will be accompanied by a smile.
In memory of Robin Lopez, the 75th entry on our Top 100 list of Trail Blazers players and influencers, here’s a video compilation of his long-running feud with the NBA’s costumed entertainers, perhaps his most famous contribution to the league.
Discuss your thoughts and memories of Robin Lopez below, and check back every day as we continue the countdown to No. 1.