Maurice Cheeks spent four years on the sidelines leading the Portland Trail Blazers from 2001-05.
On March 2, 2005, 17 years ago this week, Cheeks was dismissed as the Blazers coach.
He was given the difficult task to replace Mike Dunleavy, who led the team to the Western Conference Finals in 2000. As a rookie head coach, inheriting an extremely talented team can be a challenge because results are expected almost immediately.
Despite making the playoffs in 2002 and 2003, Cheeks was unable to get the Blazers out of the first round.
For most of this era, the team was unofficially dubbed the “Jail Blazers,” and Cheeks was often seen as a scapegoat for many of the Blazers’ woes on and off the court.
However, Cheeks maintained a clean image and was popular among Blazers fans, especially after a 2003 playoff game in which Cheeks comforted a nervous National Anthem singer.
The gesture probably kept him in town a little longer as the organization didn’t want more negative publicity surrounding the team.
Ultimately, Cheeks was unsuccessful in his first go as a head coach, but got an opportunity with four seasons with the Philadelphia 76ers and one with the Detroit Pistons. Cheeks never won a playoff series with either team but is largely known as one of the most respected assistants in the league, now currently with the Chicago Bulls.
Rip City, what do you remember most about Mo Cheeks? Feel free to keep the conversation going in the comments.