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. 65 | Kermit Washington
Games Played with Blazers: 173 Regular Season, 6 Postseason
*PTS: 11.6 | REB: 9.5 | ORB: 3.5 | FG%: 55.6
*Statistics are pulled from a player’s time in Portland
Joined Club: May 1979, sent to the Blazers as part of the compensation package for the San Diego Clippers signing Bill Walton to a free agent contract
Departed Club: October 1987, traded to the Golden State Warriors for a third-round draft pick
Place in History: Let’s start with the obvious bad news. Kermit Washington’s reputation was darkened before he came to the Trail Blazers when he threw a punch that sent Houston Rockets forward Rudy Tomjanovich to the hospital for five months and severely impacted his life and career. That reputation was obliterated, along with the goodwill the former Blazer had built as a supposedly trustworthy member of the Portland community, when Washington was indicted for charity fraud, money laundering, and convicted for tax evasion in 2017. We’ll make no attempt to gloss over either incident here, nor to uplift Washington as admirable on those accounts or redeemed by any amount of basketball skill.
It would be disingenuous to include a Trail Blazers Top 100 List and not consider Washington. He was acquired in one of the stranger ways possible: compensation due to a short-lived NBA rule that any team who signed another team’s star in free agency had to balance the scales by trading back talent. Washington and Kevin Kunnert came Portland’s way when the San Diego Clippers inked Bill Walton to a deal in 1979. Ironically, Walton and Washington would play roughly the same number of games for their new teams, with almost identical stats. Only one of them would earn an All-Star nod in the process, however. It wasn’t Bill Walton.
Washington mixed old-school power forward sensibilities with new age athleticism. He was tough. He’d jostle for rebounds and defensive positioning. He was a load on the offensive glass. No possession was safe when Kermit was near the lane. He scored 13.4 with 10.5 rebounds, 4.1 offensive, and shot 55% from the field during his All-Star season in 1979-80. And he was in the game all...the...time. He doubled up the minutes of veteran Maurice Lucas during the regular season. He averaged 41.5 minutes per game during Portland’s playoffs runs during his tenure. The coaches just never took him out. His motor was irrepressible; the 38th minute was often as good as the 2nd.
We’re not going to talk further about Kermit. His highlight packages center around “the punch” or redemption stories that don’t seem to apply right now. Instead with a sad nod in his direction we’ll remind you that he once roamed the court in the early ‘80’s, making a franchise-changing trade into something decent, and leave the 65th spot on our list at that.