NCAA March Madness is just around the corner. In homage to the great annual event we’re running a Portland Trail Blazers bracket here at Blazer’s Edge this month. The second round happens this weekend, and boy, are the choices getting tough!
The idea came from an article from Dia Miller and Dave Deckard, detailing the Blazers they’d most like to see one more time. The piece was fun and well-received, so we’re making a bracket of 16 candidates and letting you vote for your favorites. Eventually we’ll see which player you’d most like to bring back for one more go.
Here are the conventions:
- We’re not including Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler, since everyone should want them back for overwhelming talent and impact purposes. They count as, “Anytime, Anywhere” legends.
- You can vote in the comments or on Twitter @blazersedge. We won’t get as many votes that way as if we just opened a poll, but the discussion is important as well.
- You don’t necessarily have to consider the current roster or the state of the team as you make your choices, but you can. You’re voting for the player you’d most love to see suit up for one more season. The qualities/memories of that individual player are the most important things. Helping the current team is a bonus which can weigh in your decision, but doesn’t have to.
- Sadly, we’ve lost some of the players on this list. We remember them with honor and thank their families for sharing them with us through basketball so we could appreciate and remember them.
- Go ahead and envision the best Blazers version of each player. That’s part of the fun!
This matchup features two multi-skilled players, one backcourt and one front. They bring different things to the table, but either would be incredible for the current team.
Instead of listing the things Cliff Robinson could do on the basketball court, it’d be easier to list the things he couldn’t do.
There’s nothing Cliff Robinson couldn’t do.
At 6’10, lithe and springy, Robinson spent his first couple years in the league playing every frontcourt position: small forward, power forward, and center. He could have played point guard too, except back in those days he never would have passed it. He was known for his defense and mobility, and would become a utility defender for five teams during his 18-year career, playing until the ripe old age of 40.
But Robinson wasn’t just a jack-of-all-trades. He mastered them too. Once the Clyde Drexler era began waning after the 1991-92 season, Robinson stepped to the fore as a star and scorer. He averaged 20.4 points for the Blazers over the next four seasons, shooting from everywhere on the floor, including the three-point arc, where he held and impressive 36% success rate over that same span. His career high in three-point percentage would come in 1998-99 with the Phoenix Suns, when he shot 41.7% beyond the arc.
Robinson would continue to alternate between center, power forward, and small forward throughout his career, depending on need and circumstance. He played them all well.
Sadly, we lost Uncle Cliffy in August of 2020, but could the Blazers have his prime-years incarnation back for a season, the impact on their current lineup would be significant. His huge defensive impact would pay dividends immediately. His scoring power would balance out the floor. He’d move defenses like a modern stretch four and patrol the paint like an old-school five...this time with far fewer 300-pound 7-footers to back him down.
Cliff squeaked out a win in a mild upset over Terry Porter in Round 1. Readers cited the adaptable nature of his game, plus his defense, as reasons he’d fit better than anybody with the current team. He’ll try to unseat another guard favorite here.
After being selected 6th overall in the 2006 NBA Draft then being traded to Portland on draft night, Brandon Roy set about building a Rookie of the Year season and a memorable career. Sandwiched between heralded big men LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden, Roy outshone them all. In his first four seasons with the Blazers he averaged 20.2 points per game, shooting 46.7% from the field, earning three NBA All-Star appearances. He had a deceptively-accurate jump shot, spliced through by even-more-deceptively athletic drives to the rim. He was also the original game-finisher before Damian Lillard took over that role in 2012.
Watching Roy glide to the rim is an experience. Watching him hit buzzer beaters is downright ethereal.
Nobody will ever forget Roy scoring 24 points in the fourth period in Game 4 of Portland’s series with the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Playoffs. He brought his team back from a deep hole against the eventual champions, staking them to an 84-82 victory and keeping them alive for another day.
The Blazers would lose that series, then lose Roy the next season. His knees crumbled, leaving his career as a brief, shining testimony to greatness. Seeing Brandon line up beside Lillard would be a sight in itself, let alone the one-season redemption story for an NBA Great that never had the chance to tell the greatest story with his talent and drive.
Roy won huge over the legendary Geoff Petrie in the first round. Readers considered him an overall superior player. His career being cut short by injury added sentimental value to the pick.
Which player will advance, dear readers? Vote for Roy or Robinson in the comments below or on Twitter!