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Who’s Your Favorite Guard in Trail Blazers History?

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Other than Clyde Drexler, Brandon Roy, or Damian Lillard.

Portland Trail Blazers v Sacramento Kings Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images

Blazer’s Edge has run polls on favorite forward and favorite center in Trail Blazers history in honor of the franchise’s 50th anniversary. Not surprisingly, Jerome Kersey and Arvydas Sabonis emerged as two of the most beloved players in Rip City.

Now it’s time to vote on a favorite guard — with one catch. The vast majority of Blazermaniacs would choose Clyde Drexler, Brandon Roy, or Damian Lillard. I’d be more interested in replacing Terry Stotts with Jason Kidd than pitting those three hall of famers against each other, so today’s vote will be in the artificial “non-legends category.” Let’s just assume Clyde, BRoy, and Dame all tied for first.

Lionel Hollins

Sometimes overshadowed by Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas, Hollins was the “other” All-star on the exalted 1977 and 1978 teams. To this day, fans who lived through the apex of Blazers basketball will regale young fans with the story of how “Train” broke the hearts of the Chicago Bulls twice in one season. Jason Quick with the details:

Trailing the Bulls by four points at Memorial Coliseum, Portland scored with 16 seconds left to cut the lead to two and set the stage for Hollins.

After a timeout, Chicago inbounded at halfcourt, where Hall of Famer Norm Van Lier inbounded. Hollins stepped in front of his pass and raced down the court for a dunk to tie the game with seven seconds left. After another inbound at halfcourt, Bobby Gross tipped Van Lier’s pass to Dave Twardzik, who fed Hollins for a game-winning layin with two seconds left...

One month later, Chicago thought it exacted revenge at old Chicago Stadium. Leading by one in the final seconds, Blazers guard Johnny Davis had his shot blocked from behind, and the Bulls quickly executed a fast break to go up one with four seconds left. That’s when Hollins took an inbounds pass from Corky Calhoun at halfcourt, dribbled three times and took an off-balance shot over the defense of Van Lier.

From 30-feet away, it banked in at the buzzer.

Billy Ray Bates

Before Nurk Fever there was Billy Ray Bates. Every diehard BlazerManiac knows the story of Bates bursting onto the scene in the final weeks of the 1980 season. His stellar performances from the 1980 playoffs have survived, including this delightfully silly interview with Brent Musburger:

But Bates’ 26-point breakout game on March 15, 1980 in Chicago against the Bulls sounds just as fantastic. David Halberstam described Bates’ performance in his masterpiece Breaks of the Game:

Billy more than anyone else simply took over the game. When he had the ball it was as if everyone else on the court stopped to watch him...With Portland behind by two points everyone cleared out so he could drive on the immense Artis Gilmore. He took off, drove, jumped, faked, brought gilmore up with him, pumped again, still held the ball and then, at the last second dunked. The Chicago arena broke into spontaneous applause.

...

As Bates walked off the court, the Chicago announcer said: “Billy Ray Bates scored points.” He paused. The Chicago crowd began to roar. “Sixteen of them in the last quarter.” The noise was deafening.

Terry Porter

Terry Porter is on my shortlist for underrated players in NBA history. Often dismissed as the Robin to Drexler’s Batman, it’s forgotten that Porter outplayed players like Kevin Johnson and John Stockton in multiple playoff series.

Drazen Petrovic

Petro sits high on the seemingly endless list of “What-ifs” in Trail Blazers history. Despite appearing in only 95 regular season games for Portland, fans still remember the tantalizing hints of greatness the Croatian legend showed before being traded to the Nets. Blazer’s Edge’s own Dave Deckard has the details:

Trading Petrovic qualifies as one of the big “take it back” moves in franchise history. Researching this piece, I was all prepared to tell the story of how his Portland days didn’t amount to much. Then again, you look at his Blazers stats and say, “they traded away a guard shooting 48% from the field and 44% from the arc!?!” Dude averaged 21+ points per 36 minutes from the moment he stepped into the league. Even when he was bad, he was good.

Petrovic’s untimely death in 1993 adds profound sadness to his story. His game was so full of life; it’s hard to imagine it ending so soon. But his presence on this list is not a eulogy. Look at his stats, listen to how people talk about him, and watch the video below. See how he moves and shoots. Compare him to offensive powerhouses Kiki Vandeweghe or Geoff Petrie or any of a dozen free-flowing, smaller guards today...even Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Wesley Matthews

Something of a spiritual successor to Jerome Kersey, Wes brought a perfect combination of intensity, grit, and high-level role player skill every night. He was sneakily clutch, too, especially on defense.

Steve Blake

Timmay! made me do it.

Honorable Mention: Dave Twardzik, Jim Paxson, Robert Pack, Greg Anthony, Damon Stoudamire, Steve Smith, Andre Miller

Dishonorable Mention: Isaiah Rider, Raymond Felton

Poll

Who’s your favorite guard in Trail Blazers history (excluding the three legends)?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Lionel Hollins
    (18 votes)
  • 2%
    Billy Ray Bates
    (17 votes)
  • 46%
    Terry Porter
    (265 votes)
  • 4%
    Drazen Petrovic
    (23 votes)
  • 15%
    Wes Matthews
    (91 votes)
  • 3%
    Steve Blake
    (18 votes)
  • 2%
    Dave Twardzik
    (12 votes)
  • 2%
    Jim Paxson
    (14 votes)
  • 0%
    Robert Pack
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Greg Anthony
    (3 votes)
  • 6%
    Damon Stoudamire
    (39 votes)
  • 1%
    Steve Smith
    (9 votes)
  • 4%
    Andre Miller
    (24 votes)
  • 5%
    Other (list in comments)
    (33 votes)
569 votes total Vote Now