The only team based in the Pacific Northwest owns a unique history in its own right. For an expansion team, the Portland Trail Blazers were very well-liked. The team entered the NBA in 1970 and enjoyed a strong following after getting their feet wet in professional basketball. From 1977 to 1995, the team sold out 814 consecutive home games, which was the longest streak for a professional sports franchise at the time.
The team owns three appearances in the NBA Finals and one championship, but it’s been a while since the team last hoisted the trophy up in the air. It’s also been 30 years since the team last played in the Finals. With that said, the team’s 34 playoff appearances since 1970 are just behind the Lakers and Spurs. For a team with this much postseason action, you would think they would have more titles, but that is not the case. What they do have are a three-headed group of star players that sweep these awards.
Here are the Trail Blazers franchise awards.
GOAT Of The Franchise - Clyde Drexler
For a moment, Drexler is the all-time leading scorer in team history. That record is going to be broken very soon. However, Drexler could remain the team’s greatest of all time when you look at his resume. Drexler led the Trail Blazers to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992. Both times, the team came up short. The Pistons defeated the Trail Blazers in 1990 and the Bulls won their second straight title at the time in 1992.
From 1983 to 1995, Drexler was everything to the Trail Blazers. He made the All-Star team eight times. That also included five appearances on the All-NBA Team. He eventually won a championship as a member of the Rockets when he was traded midseason in 1995; however, he would have likely loved it more if he could have landed Portland a title. In the end, Drexler’s name is plastered all over the team’s records, which is why his No. 22 is retired by the team.
Rookie Of The Franchise - Damian Lillard
Four players in team history have won Rookie of the Year, which is tied with the Wizards as the third-best mark in the NBA. Geoff Petrie won in 1971 when he averaged 24.8 points and 4.8 assists per game. Sidney Wicks won in 1972 after averaging 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds. Brandon Roy won the award in 2007 when he averaged 16.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 1.2 steals.
The best rookie season has to go to Lillard when he averaged 19.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per game. Lillard gets this because the team technically won the most games during this rookie season. Petrie’s team was in their first season ever and his stats were inflated with a team that won 29 games. Wicks didn’t do any better as the team won 18 games and went through two coaches. Roy’s team won 32 games during his rookie season, but Lillard got the gentle nudge by winning 33 games his rookie season.
Offensive Player Of The Franchise - Damian Lillard
It’s hard to go against the man that is going to overtake Drexler as the all-time leading scorer within the next season or two. Since entering the league in 2012, Lillard owns an impressive mark. He owns a career average of 24.6 points per game while shooting 43.7% from the field and 37.3% from three-point range. There is only one season in his career in Portland where he did not average over 20.0 points per game and that was his rookie season.
Lillard is also the all-time leading three-point holder. The person behind him was his longtime running mate, C. J. McCollum. Drexler deserves his flowers as well, but Lillard is going to go down as the greatest offensive player in team history when it is all said and done. For now, Drexler holds the lead with 18,040 career points, but Lillard is right behind with 17,510 career points.
Defensive Player Of The Franchise - Bill Walton
There is not a single player in team history that has won Defensive Player of the Year. The Trail Blazers are one of 12 NBA teams that have never featured a player that was the best for defense. With that said, they featured a player that was a defensive force during their championship days. That was the 1977 Finals MVP, as well as the 1978 MVP Bill Walton, who won All-Defensive First Team in both of those seasons.
During the 1976-77 season, Walton led the league in rebounds (14.4) and blocks (3.2). In the postseason, he averaged 4.3 blocks in the first-round series against the Bulls. That number featured 3.0 blocks in the second round in 2.3 in the Conference Finals. With his 18.5 points, 19.0 rebounds, and 3.7 blocks, he won Finals MVP. During his MVP season, Walton averaged 18.9 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.5 blocks in 58 games.
Coach Of The Franchise - Jack Ramsay
The all-time winningest coach in team history is Jack Ramsay. From 1976 to 1986, Ramsay compiled a 453-367 record in 820 games. That also included a 29-30 record in the postseason. Ramsay was the head coach of the 1977 NBA champions and he is regarded as a top-10 coach in NBA history.
Terry Stotts accumulated 402 wins from 2012 to 2021. He is the only other coach with over 400 wins, but the second greatest coach is Rick Adelman. Adelman took on a daunting challenge by taking over as the coach in 1988. Mike Schuler was the 1986-87 NBA Coach of the Year, but the team went in a different direction. From 1988 to 1994, Adelman led the team to a 291-154 record and two trips to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, the team was unable to capitalize on those opportunities. With that said, he is the only coach in team history with a winning record in the playoffs.
Fan Favorite - Damian Lillard
How can you go against the player that has been the most loyal to any franchise? With trade rumors swirling, Lillard was believed to be out of Portland as soon as last season. Instead, he inked a deal that will likely keep him in Portland for the rest of his career. Lillard is Trail Blazers basketball. That’s who we think of when we think of Portland. The money is likely worth it when you think of how much he has devoted to the team and the community.
Lillard owns six appearances in the All-Star Game, six All-NBA selections, a Rookie of the Year, and a place on the NBA 75th Anniversary Team. This is all after coming out of small Weber State University. Lillard does a lot on the court, but he is also a fixture in the public eye. Anyone in the area can vouch for what he does, so even the average fan knows who he is. As long as he is beloved at this level, he will always be the team’s fan favorite.