This May, the Portland Trail Blazers will find themselves in the Draft Lottery for the first time since 2013. Despite holding the league’s seventh-worst record, the Blazers will have a chance at the top overall pick with the help of some ping pong balls.
But it didn’t always work like that.
From 1966-84, the league’s two worst teams would participate in a coin flip to determine which team would be granted the first overall pick.
And on this day in 1974, the coin flip changed the course of history for the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers won the coin flip against the Philadelphia 76ers, allowing them to draft UCLA’s Bill Walton, who was unanimously considered as the No. 1 pick amongst scouts across the country.
Walton was a generational talent, winning two NCAA Championships and becoming the key cog in the machine for the only Blazers championship team in 1977.
Without Walton and the coin flip, there likely isn’t a world with a 1977 Blazers championship, putting into doubt if the Blazers ever would have win a title in their history.