Pepsi and Coca Cola. Ferrari and Lamborghini. Kanye and Taylor. There are many notable rivalries throughout history. If you add sports teams to the list, it would be endless.
The Portland Trail Blazers, have a long rivalry history. Ask any Blazers fan, they’ll easily rattle off more than one team that they’ve seen as a nemesis and wanted so badly to beat.
I’ve cheered for the blazers for three decades. In that time the teams I loved to hate changed more than once. Sometimes the rivalry is short lived, lasting only a season or two. Others have spanned the majority of the 30 years I’ve been a fan. Of all of them, here are the three rivalries I remember most.
The Seattle Supersonics are no longer a franchise, after relocating to Oklahoma City in 2008 to become the Thunder. But for years—in the playoffs on more than one occasion—the team closest to Portland was the source of ongoing competition between the two Pacific Northwest teams and their fanbases.
When the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City, the competition between the two teams changed, but It didn’t disappear. The Thunder started to resurface as competition for the Blazers back in 2010. Both teams were striving to compete with the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers going into the 2010-2011 season. The I-5 rivalry was re-invented at a distance.
The ongoing competition between the franchises has ebbed and flowed over the years, but it hit a high mark in 2019 when the Blazers faced the Thunder in the first round of the playoffs. It’s hard to forget the moment in game 5 when Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard hit a 3 pointer at the buzzer to solidify the series for the Blazers.
My most memorable rivalry may be the Chicago Bulls of the 1990’s. Chicago took Michael Jordan with the third pick in the 1984 draft after the Trail Blazers chose Sam Bowie with the second. As Jordan started his NBA career, so began my intense need to beat Chicago. Jordan and the 90’s Bulls proved the Blazers’ biggest competition. Even as a kid in elementary school, I remember the feelings towards Chicago. It seemed like it was our decade. But then the Bulls went on to win the Championship six times between 1991 and 1998, with the Blazers coming up short. That didn’t dim the intensity.
Of all the rivalries we have had over the years, in my opinion the biggest has to be the Los Angeles Lakers. This one dates all the way back to 1977, the year the Trail Blazers won the championship. Portland had to take on the Lakers in the Western Conference Championships. One sweep and one ring later, it was on.
Though the Lakers came out on top for decades after, this is rivalry I continually hear about from other fans. I moved to Los Angeles with my family when I was in High School, and anytime I wear Trail Blazers gear in public, I’m sought out by Lakers fans wanting to talk basketball. Meanwhile the conversations I engage in on social media inevitably end with some form of “anyone, as long as it’s not the Lakers.”
As the Trail Blazers head into the fight for the 8th seed, if they make the first round of the playoffs they will face the Lakers once again. The rivarly is still going strong.
OKC, Chicago, and LA are my three. What are the teams you’ve loved to hate as a Trail Blazer fan? Share in the comments below!