Despite having won just one NBA championship in their existence, the Portland Trail Blazers still boast a history of iconic players. Some of their most prominent superstars include Bill Walton (led the team to their only title in 1977), Clyde Drexler (led Portland to two NBA Finals appearances in the 1990s), and current superstar Damian Lillard.
The Blazers have also had a number of All-Star-caliber players you may not have remembered once donned the red, black, and white. Here are the five players who played for Rip City that you forgot about.
Shareem Abdur-Rahim played 12 productive seasons in the NBA. Mostly remembered for his tenures with the Vancouver Grizzlies and Atlanta Hawks, the No. 3 overall pick of the prized 1996 NBA Draft also spent one and a half seasons in Portland.
An All-Star in 2002, Abdur-Rahim arrived in Portland as an established forward who provided solid numbers. However, his numbers dipped during his first half season with the Blazers after getting traded in February 2004. He averaged just 10.0 points and 4.5 rebounds while playing off the bench.
In his first full season in Rip City, his numbers were no longer on par from his production level through his stints with Vancouver and Atlanta. A 20/8 guy in his first seven seasons, Abdur-Rahim averaged a respectable 16.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in 54 games in the 2004-05 season, his last year with Portland.
Nick Van Exel
Nick Van Exel established himself as one of the most exciting players in the league when he played with the Los Angeles Lakers through the mid-1990s. His speed and electric drives to the basket wowed the Los Angeles crowd for five years, and then Nuggets fans for nearly four seasons.
However, Nick the Quick found himself becoming a journeyman through the tail end of his career. One of his stops came in Rip City during the 2004-05 season, his penultimate campaign in the NBA.
Portland traded for the aging point guard in the summer of 2004. At 33 years old, Van Exel still provided solid numbers for the Blazers that year, averaging 11.1 points and 4.3 assists in 53 games (34 starts). In the offseason, however, Portland waived the former All-Star. Van Exel later signed with the San Antonio Spurs, where he ended his career.
The Blazers were a middle-of-the-pack team during the early 2010s and looked to boost their chances in the postseason during the 2010-11 campaign. Just prior to the trade deadline, the Blazers pulled the trigger and traded for former All-Star and defensive stalwart Gerald Wallace from the Charlotte Bobcats.
The All-Defensive forward provided the all-around production the Blazers expected when they acquired him, posting averages of 15.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in the final 23 games of the season. Unfortunately, the Blazers faced the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The Mavericks ended their season in six games, though Portland did get that miracle game from Brandon Roy in their come-from-behind-win in Game 4.
In his second season in Portland, Wallace started all of his 42 appearances before getting traded to the New Jersey Nets midway through the 2011-12 season. That trade resulted in the Blazers getting the draft pick that became Damian Lillard.
Many would remember Jermaine O’Neal as a six-time All-Star with the Indiana Pacers through the 2000s before becoming a journeyman through the latter end of his career. However, not many remember that he actually started his career with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Portland used the 17th pick of the 1996 draft to select the 17-year-old out of Eau Claire High School. O’Neal jumped to the NBA straight out of high school because he thought he would have an easy transition into the NBA, much like Kevin Garnett did the year before. However, that didn’t happen at all.
O’Neal struggled through his rookie campaign and didn’t see the floor all that often. Unfortunately, this became the theme of his entire stint with Portland. His role never really grew, so never got the opportunity to really showcase himself during his time in Rip City.
After years of frustration due to his lack of playing time, O’Neal requested a trade. The Blazers granted that trade in the summer of 2000 and sent him to the Indiana Pacers, where his career blossomed thereafter. In four seasons with Portland, O’Neal averaged underwhelming numbers of 3.9 points and 3.1 rebounds while playing just 11.5 minutes a night.
Shawn Kemp was one of the most electric players in the 1990s. He made a name for himself with high-flying and rim-rattling dunks while playing alongside Gary Payton with the Seattle SuperSonics. However, near the end of his career, Kemp struggled to maintain his weight and also suffered through drug and alcohol abuse.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, that’s the version of Kemp they got when they traded for him in the 2000 offseason. After a pretty productive three-year stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kemp’s numbers took a nosedive brought about by both aging and his off-court struggles. In fact, his debut campaign in Portland was cut short after he entered drug rehabilitation.
In two seasons with the Blazers, the six-time All-Star averaged just 6.3 points and 3.8 rebounds while playing just 16.2 minutes per game.