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 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 during these January weekends. 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!
Our third matchup features two of the best small forwards to ever wear the uniform.
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.
Unlike most players in this bracket, Scottie Pippen was imported to the Blazers rather than developing his career in Portland. By the time he got to town he was a multi-time champion and perpetual MVP candidate. He was no longer scoring 20 per game as he had at his career peak, but even at 34, everything about his game was on point. He stood out as one of the league’s best defenders. He had tricky, well-timed scoring moves and an acceptable three-point shot. His court vision and knowledge were near-astounding, his victories unmatched by anyone in franchise history. The Blazers thought enough of Pippin to trade six players to the Houston Rockets in a 1999 acquisition. He’d help the team reach the 2000 Western Conference Finals and nearly dethrone the eventual-champion Los Angeles Lakers. Even the biggest stage wouldn’t faze him.
The attraction of bringing back Pippen would lie in winning knowledge, plus incomparable defense. He’d instantly solidify any lineup around him, including Portland’s current one. Plus, how can you miss the chance to watch one of the best players in NBA history lace it up one more time with something to prove?
So which will it be? If you had to choose between Jerome Kersey and Scottie Pippen to play one more year, which would it be? Vote in the comments or on Twitter!