Since Damian Lillard broke Clyde Drexler’s all-time Portland Trail Blazers scoring mark last week, debate has raged over the designation of “Greatest Trail Blazer of All Time”. Drexler had held the crown up to the moment that Lillard converted a free throw versus the Oklahoma City Thunder to earn his 18041st point in Portland’s uniform. At that juncture, all bets were off. The playoffs success, athletic dominance crowd still sides with Clyde. The charismatic leadership, skill, and point production folks lean towards Dame. With plenty of generational provincialism thrown in besides, resolution is hard to come by.
In this middle of all this, long-time Portland media member Kerry Eggers has published a mammoth piece, cataloging the thoughts of Trail Blazers legends, including Terry Porter, Jim Paxson, and Drexler himself. Eggers also polls fellow media members and other experts.
Eggers reviews Drexler’s real-time communications during Lillard’s record chase, then cuts to the chase, asking The Man himself who’s the greatest. Drexler answers:
“I will never respond to that,” he says. “Never going to have that conversation with anybody. People are entitled to their opinion. No problem with that. I respect everyone. You put up your body of work and let that do your talking. If they think (that makes him No. 1), great. If not, that’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it.”
Drexler’s teammate Terry Porter talks at length about Lillard and the changing NBA game that helped him rise to legendary status, before offering his own analysis of the question at hand:
“I’m biased,” he says. “I played with Clyde. I would put him atop my list. The longevity and sustainability from both Clyde and Dame has been proven. Clyde’s size allowed him to do a lot more things. He was a great rebounder and had the ability to anticipate and get steals. There are few guys who could get out in open space and finish around the rim like Clyde, with his size and athleticism, but also quickness and change of speed. Dame has some great attributes as well.
All-Star guard Jim Paxson declined to choose a winner between the two, but offered these thoughts:
“Different eras,” Passion says. “People ask about Michael and LeBron (James). Michael won a lot of championships, but LeBron has had a lot of success, too. For the era they came in, each was the greatest player.
Speaking of Lillard, Paxson adds:
“He has been great for the organization and the city,” Paxson says. “He is respectful and has a good awareness of the team’s past and the players who were there. I listened to the TV interview after he broke the record; he was humble about it, deflecting credit. He is a real pro and a credit to his team and what’s right about the game.”
After sharing multiple thoughts about both players, former Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts casts his vote a different way:
“Clyde had a great run with the Blazers,” Stotts says. “But no question in my mind, for everything Dame has done on and off the court, for the franchise and the community, he is the greatest Blazer of all time.”
These scattered quotes only scratch the surface of Eggers’ story, which contains far more from everyone we just listed, plus thoughts from media members Michael Holton and Dwight Jaynes, Blazers broadcaster Kevin Calabro, former Blazers guard Larry Steele, and more. This is a huge must-read for Blazers fans.