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 semi-finals are upon us, so be ready for some heart-rending choices!
The original 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!
The second semifinal pits two franchise legends against one another in a nearly-impossible choice.
Jerome Kersey won in a landslide against fellow popular forward Brian Grant in the second round. His energetic play, charisma, and spirit made him a popular choice. The competition is huge this time, though. Can “Mercy Kersey” do it one more time? Here’s the bio if you need it.
Jerome Kersey needs no introduction. Drafted in the second round out of tiny Longwood College, Kersey smashed his way onto the Blazers’ roster despite doubts from coaches and executives, unseating high-scoring forward Kiki Vandeweghe to own Portland’s starting spot for more than half a decade. Kersey was a ferocious dunker, a hard-nosed defender, and developed a nice jump shot to go along with his incredible strength and leaping ability. His career high average came in 1987-88 when he scored 19.2 per game, but he was sharing court space with Clyde Drexler. That pairing proved nearly-insurmountable because both scorers watched out for each other and scaled back their individual attempts in favor of the team. In different circumstances, Kersey could have been a 20-point producer easily.
And then there was stuff like this:
Kersey didn’t have the three-point shot, so he might not translate seamlessly into your modern “3-and-D” small forward spot, but his toughness, defense, and refusal to bow to any limitations would translate into any era.
Brandon Roy defeated franchise legend Cliff Robinson in the second round, setting up a battle of titans in this semifinal. From Rookie of the Year in ‘06 through the franchise resurrection and the Dallas playoffs farewell, Roy became THE Trail Blazer for a certain generation. Will that be enough to push him past Kersey? Here’s the bio:
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.
You’ve seen the contenders. The choice is yours now. Roy or Kersey...you can bring back one of them in their prime for a season, joining the current Blazers lineup. Which will it be? Vote below.