After a sluggish start as a franchise, the Portland Trail Blazers have been a consistent playoff contender throughout the years outside of a few stretches, resulting in a number of great moments. The Blazers won their one and only championship in 1977, and Damian Lillard is trying to get the franchise back to that level.
While the Blazers are still trying to compete to bring back former glory, let’s take a look back and see what their past high points looked like.
Here are the five greatest moments in Portland Trail Blazers history, ranked.
5. Brandon Roy plays through the pain
In Game 4 of the 2010 first-round matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, a familiar sight was seen running out of the tunnel. Although Blazers fans all knew who it was, that didn’t stop them from being in collective awe. Franchise player Brandon Roy was back on the court, despite undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus just a week earlier.
Roy wasn’t expected to play at all, and yet there he was ready to help their playoff push. Roy played 26 minutes and had 10 points in a Blazers win. But for all the Willis Reed comparisons, Roy really wasn’t able to do much in the series’ two remaining games, and the Blazers were eliminated.
Roy’s knees never did fully heal, which will forever remain a big what-if question for the Portland franchise. But from this moment, they will always know he was willing to play through the pain.
4. LaMarcus Aldridge turns into the Rockets’ worst nightmare
With the departure of Brandon Roy, co-star LaMarcus Aldridge had to take control of the franchise going forward. During the 2014 first-round series against James Harden, Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets, he sure showed he could do just that.
Aldridge was historically good through the first four games, averaging 35.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per night. That total through the first four playoff games hadn’t been matched since Hakeem Olajuwon did it for the Rockets way back in 1998, and it hasn’t been matched since.
Although LMA was the man throughout this series, it will forever be remembered for a different great moment in Blazers history.
3. Damian Lillard shoots the Rockets out of the playoffs in 2014, then waves goodbye to the Thunder in 2019
From Brandon Roy to LaMarcus Aldridge, the weight of the modern day Blazers eventually passed to an even more worthy leader: Damian Lillard.
Every self-respecting Blazers fan knows this call word for word from ESPN’s Mike Tirico in Game 6 against the Houston Rockets:
“Foul to give for Houston. Nine-tenths left. A 3 wins the series. It’s Lillard, he got the shot off. Lillard, good! Good! And the Blazers win the series for the first time in 14 years!”
And with this shot, Dame Time was born. Damian Lillard cemented his status in Trail Blazers lore for decades to come:
Little did anybody know he’d do it all again to Oklahoma City five years later:
This moment elevated Damian Lillard to possibly the greatest Blazer of all time.
Dame stared down Paul George, took a side step, and drilled a filthy 3-pointer from way downtown to win the series and advance the the second round. The momentum from this shot eventually catapulted them all the way to the 2019 Western Conference Finals for the first time in about two decades. This shot virtually ended the Russell Westbrook-era Thunder and gave Lillard the three points he needed to close the game with 50 points.
Blazers fans will never get tired of Dame Time.
2. 1990 Blazers beat the Phoenix Suns, advance to NBA Finals
The Portland Trail Blazers were expected to be pretty good coming into the 1989-1990 NBA season. but nobody expected them to be this good. The team was low-key loaded, with Clyde Drexler leading the way and an excellent supporting cast featuring Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, and Kevin Duckworth all averaging north of 15 points. They also had key contributors in Buck Williams and a rookie Drazen Petrovic off the bench.
The Blazers bested the Suns in six games to get a date with the defending champion Detroit Pistons. Although they eventually fell to Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys in five games, the season and the journey to the NBA Finals was magical for the fans from Portland who hadn’t seen success at that level since moment No. 1.
1. Blazers win it all in 1977
Nothing beats a championship.
The Blazers have been to the NBA Finals three times in their history, and this was the one time they came away victorious. While Portland wasn’t that dominant in the regular season thanks to a 49-33 record, the club made its way through the playoffs by beating the Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, and Los Angeles Lakers before taking out the Philadelphia 76ers in six games.
Bill Walton was still his dominant MVP self leading this Blazers squad, also featuring Maurice Lucas and Lionel Hollins, to the promised land.