Like many other Portland Trail Blazers fans, my love for the team and game of basketball isn’t just of the television-watching variety. My fandom has inspired and dovetailed with my own hoop dreams. In CYO and AAU games, through high school PIL play and eventually, the adult rec leagues I find myself in today, my Blazers heroes have subtly influenced my basketball career every step of the way.
I assume I’m not the only one who’s watched a Blazers game and then tried to emulate a move I saw from my favorite player in the driveway. Aside from imagining I’m Damian Lillard against the Oklahoma City Thunder, hoisting up 35-foot sidestep 3-pointers (I’ve yet to make one in five years), I probably try to imitate CJ McCollum’s style the most. A lack of athleticism and multiple knee surgeries make attacking the basket somewhat of a no-go in my game, even at the tender age of 25, so I try to do my damage from the midrange. McCollum’s highlight mix, with all his craftiness, crossovers and counter moves, is the ultimate master class in midrange artistry. I also shoot a lot of 3-pointers — maybe that’s the subconscious influence of Luke Babbitt?
For one more example, I distinctly remember watching Wesley Matthews defensive highlights to get in the zone before a best-of-seven, one-on-one series against my older brother a few years ago. In that instance, the film study was less about technique and more about learning tenacity.
But enough about me, I want to hear from you. Maybe you love to launch 3-pointers from the logo like Dame or pass out of the post with creativity like Arvydas Sabonis. Maybe you lead the break with a frenetic, head-high dribble like Al-Farouq Aminu in his hey-day. Or maybe you play with the controlled pace of The Natural, Brandon Roy. I imagine Roy, Lillard, and McCollum are the more popular role models for fans who’s pickup basketball careers have primarily taken place in the 21st Century, but going back further than that, I’m curious which players people will name. Clyde Drexler is an obvious choice for fans growing up in the 1990s, but something tells me Clyde the Glyde’s style was difficult for local kids to replicate. Or maybe, everybody was dunking back then, I can’t know for sure unless you tell me.
So, of all the players to wear a Blazers uniform since the franchise’s first year in 1970, who has influenced your personal playing style most? Let us know in the comments!