This season has gone down the drain as fast as a sorority girl’s lunch. As Cody Snell wisely pointed out a few days ago, that leaves Blazer fans in a curious place while they root their team toward the lottery.
Bring on your Jonny Flynns and J.J. Hicksons, your Nolan Smiths and your Rhinos.
Let them lead us toward the light.
But while we’re sitting in a dark spot in this team’s history – not near its darkest days, but the sun is shining as brightly on the Blazers as it is on Portland right now – let’s catch up with the legendary Blazers of the past.
It’s been 20 years since Portland has reached the NBA Finals. That team took the Chicago Bulls to six games in the Finals and is one of the last great memories for a generation of Portland fans.
So what’s the gang up to these days? Here’s what each of them is doing, from the 12th man to the starting five. Spoiler alert: Most of them are involved with basketball.
For those of you who may not remember the Christopher Newport University grad, he was a 6-4 rookie guard on that Blazers’ team. He played a whopping 17 minutes over four games and scored 10 points in the season.
His current career is starting about as successfully. Lamont just wrapped up his first season as coach of the Warwick High School Raiders. They went 1-18.
He also runs the Growth through Education, Sports, Unity and Spirit Ball organization in Virginia that helps youth build confidence through participation.
Danny Young – affectionately referred to as Danny No-Face by friends of mine – is best known for a basket that did not count. In the 1989-90 Finals, Young drilled a half-court shot against the Detroit Pistons that would have sent game four into overtime, but the officials said it came after the buzzer.
He is now living back home in Raleigh, North Carolina. Young’s whereabouts were the most difficult to track down – there are also Danny Youngs coaching hoops at the University of Montevallo Shaker Heights High School near Cleveland – but it appears he may be working for Prosource Fitness Equipment as a commercial accounts manager.
One of the great names of the bunch (his first name doesn’t rhyme with tennis), Whatley is now an ordained minister and motivational speaker. He also keeps busy watching his son, Ennis Jr., play basketball at Vanguard University.
Coop was the elder statesman of the bunch when they made their run at the finals. He was then 35-and-a-half. Twenty years later, he’s the vice president and general manager of basketball operations for the Sacramento Kings. Compared to some, he got a late start on the GM-ing: Sam Presti is currently 35 and has been the GM of the Thunder for five years.
After a run-of-the-mill career, Bryant is now in his fifth season as an assistant coach for Oklahoma City. There, he’s able to mentor fellow forward/center Nick Collison in the fine art of putting up mediocre numbers: Collison’s 4.2 PPG and 4.0 RPG this season are slightly better than the 4.1 points and 3.6 rebounds per game Bryant averaged in ’91-92.
The Pack Man – who packed plenty of excitement into his all-too-short one-year stint in Portland – is currently an assistant coach for the Clippers who may soon be promoted. L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke recently connected Pack to a possible opening for L.A.’s top job should Vinny Del Negro get fired. It’s an interesting idea, especially when considering Pack was an assistant with the Hornets during Chris Paul’s stay with the team. Could this be a case of What CP3 wants, CP3 gets? Or will David Stern make Pack coach the Lakers instead?
When you think of Alaa Abdelnaby, you tend to think of vowels. But in the championship season, he put up a respectable 6 points and 4 rebounds in 13 minutes a game. History has painted his line that season better than his line this season as an analyst for CBS:
“I think Duke wins because they’re going to knock down more jump shots. They’re going to dominate the glass and when they dominate the glass, they get more possessions and more shots. Three 6-10 guys, that’s a lot for Lehigh.”
As we know now, Duke lost to Lehigh, although the Blue Devils did grab 37 rebounds to the Mountain Hawks’ 34.
The seventh man on that year’s team is currently the president of basketball operations for Boston Celtics. He’s making big moves, like signing 27-year-old 7-footer Ryan Hollins, who averaged 3.7 points and 2.3 rebounds per game with Cleveland last year. He’s also hopefully helping his old team by working out a deal that sends Rajon Rondo to Portland for Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford and millions of thank-you cards from Blazer fans.
Uncle Cliffy was the last of this bunch still playing in the NBA, finally retiring after the 2007 season. Nowadays he and his wife Heather are creating the creatively named public charity The Robinson Network that will support other nonprofits and promote professional athletes in philanthropy. He’s also wishing his Twitter followers positive thoughts.
Duck would be celebrating his 48th birthday on Sunday. He passed away Aug. 25, 2008. RIP Duck.
The hard-working power forward is now working hard with the Trail Blazers’ power forwards as an assistant coach. He’s maintained his strong sense of fashion, from his trademark goggles as a player to his collection of bowties as an assistant.
Portland’s last great point guard has been reunited with his Finals head coach Rick Adelman as an assistant coach for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now Porter gets to mentor two different styles of point guard: the buttoned-down Luke Ridnour and the flashy Ricky Rubio.
Portland’s fan favorite is still a favorite in Rip City. Kersey is helping the Blazers Make it Better as an alumni ambassador. His duties include showing up in communities like St. Helens to speak at award presentations and other events.
The greatest Blazer of them all appears to be living the life of leisure. While Uncle Cliffy was still hooping in 2007, Drexler was Dancing With the Stars. Now he’s getting passed on the all-time scoring list by Tim Duncan and Paul Pierce. He’s also spending time in the UK to promote the 2012 Summer Olympics.