NBC Sports Northwest has been broadcasting classic Trail Blazers games in lieu of live professional sports for several weeks. The re-runs are a great chance for new fans to get acquainted with older players they may never have seen before. With that in mind, here are several “lost” games that I hope they will consider airing (I wrote a similar article last year featuring several other notable lost games):
Inaugural season classics
In his book Promoter Ain’t a Dirty Word, team co-founder Harry Glickman highlighted two games from the team’s first season as being particularly memorable. The first game, played on Nov. 18, 1970 against the Hawks, featured the Blazers scoring 82 points in the second half. The victory was only the 20th game in franchise history and is possibly the first ever classic performance.
The second game Glickman highlighted was a 114-96 blowout of the defending champion New York Knicks in front of 11,868 fans at the old Memorial Coliseum — a record attendance at the time. The victory heralded the Blazers arrival on the national stage as a legitimate NBA franchise, only months after being referred to consistently as “Portland, Ore.” by newspapers announcing the team’s formation.
In the bigger picture, it would be nice to see literally any games from the pre-championship era. To my knowledge, they have never been re-broadcast and represent a true lost era.
First playoff game in team history
Official footage has surfaced of the Blazers playoff series against the Nuggets, Lakers, and 76ers during their 1977 championship run, but as far as I can tell Portland’s first ever playoff game remains lost.
The Blazers won game one of the first round mini-series against the Bulls on April 12, 1977 behind 29 points from Maurice Lucas. Luke was playing on a strained hamstring and valiantly carried the team after Bill Walton was forced to the bench with early foul trouble. As the team’s first playoff victory on the way to a championship and one of Lucas’ finest moments, this game carries a special place in Blazers lore. Hopefully footage of the contest will surface soon.
The 34-game winning streak
Every BlazerManiac knows that Bill Walton and co. started the 1977-78 season by winning 50 of their first 60 games. But many fans probably don’t realize they also went nearly a full calendar year without losing a game in Portland. The Blazers walloped the SuperSonics 134-104 on March 5, 1977 and wouldn’t lose another game at the Memorial Coliseum until February 12, 1978. An incredible 34-game winning streak.
The last four wins in that streak are arguably the franchise’s absolute apex from a pure basketball standpoint — they dominated the Warriors, Bucks, Rockets, and Nets by an average 27.5 points per game. The games featured multiple hall of fame opponents, including Bernard King, Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy, Rick Barry, Alex English, Marques Johnson, and Robert Parish. I hope NBC will re-air any of those four games and help new fans understand just how dominant the 1977-78 team was at its peak.