While flipping through tweets, there was one in particular that caught my eye by @The_FastBreak:
Grant Hill, Shawn Kemp, Larry Johnson, & Penny Hardaway would all be Hall of Famers if not for injuries
— The Fast Break (@The_FastBreak) September 5, 2013
Looking at the list, I was nodding my head… but did a double-take at Shawn Kemp. Injuries? His career was ended by being an obese coke-addled alcoholic… not because of injuries. Someone call me out if I’m wrong here
Anyway, that got me thinking… who are the most disappointing Blazers of our generation? By that I mean, the most disappointing Blazers who’ve played since you’ve been alive and able to understand basketball. I know this makes different lists for different people, but it controls for some of the obvious bias we have to either rejoice or revile a player more because we know them better. Now… to the list!
Number 5: Brandon Roy
When I worked out this list, I knew who I wanted to be #1… and the only reason my #1 was #1 was because of injuries. Therefore, I found it fair to add another Blazer whose career tanked through no fault of their own.
Oh, Brandon Roy. What can I say? We share a first name, and you were the savior of the franchise right around the time I started really paying attention to the Blazers again after a years-long period of casual watching. He did everything he could to put the team on his back and carry it forward. That attitude is what led him to become the de facto team leader instead of Zach Randolph during Roy’s rookie year… something almost unthinkable when the leader you’re replacing is a 20 and 10 guy.
Despite the heroics, despite the consistency, despite being talked about as one of the best, most clutch players in the league who had yet to even hit his ceiling… his body betrayed him. It took so little time to crown Roy as one of the best Blazers of all time that his evaporation left nothing but a huge, stinking puddle of bitterness and disappointment… and that’s why he’s at #5.
Number 4: Harvey Grant
Imagine you’re trying your hand at online dating. You get a message. She’s cute, she’s interested in the same music, same political leanings… so you set up a date. When you get there, you see someone completely different, bantering about how Nickleback is better than Nirvana.
That’s pretty much what happened to the Blazers when they snagged Harvey Grant. He had averaged somewhere around 18 points a game for three straight seasons, and he was a few years away from being 30 years old. Then he gets to Portland and he averages just south of 10.
To this day, nobody is sure what happened. Did Harvey trade places with this OTHER twin brother, Hardy, and nobody noticed? Did he get to Portland and just get bored? The mystery may never be solved, but it’s not often that you trade for a guy and instantly shave about half his scoring average when he gets here. But that was Harvey Grant for you.
Number 3: Damon Stoudamire
I remember this one pretty well… I had his rookie card, even a few of them! Damon Stoudamire was a very good player, and he was young. One of the best point guards in the league, and only getting better! Then the Blazers traded for him.
Hopes of his averaging 10 assists drowned in a sea of 5-, 6-, and 7-assist games. Dreams of his averaging 25 points a game were swallowed in a sinkhole full of 10-, 11-, and 12-point performances. Although to be fair, and to add to the cruelty, his first half-season with the Blazers could have been an adjustment period… he got about 9 dimes a game, even if his scoring plummeted. Surely he just needed an offseason to get settled, and he’ll… wait, no? He’s just going to… average even fewer assists, oh, okay, I see… fine….
Number 2: Shawn Kemp
Shawn-effing-Kemp. As a little kid in the early 90s, very few players were ever as mesmerizing as the
Rain Reign Man (shoutout to DunkContestExpert for the correction). His dunks were legend. Your teeth hurt just looking at them.
By the time he was traded out of Seattle and landed in Cleveland, he’d lost a step and added some weight, but he was still cramming 20 points and 10 boards. When the Blazers got him, I was over the moon! I couldn’t believe it. He was going to get back in shape and start dancing on people’s heads like Fred Astaire!
Except, instead, he decided to a hitch a ride to cokeville on the buffet train, gain even more weight, and average a miserable 6 points and 4 boards. Ouch. All aboard the redeye to bummersburgh. Toot-toot…
Number 1: Greg Oden
For me, when it comes to Blazers-related disappointment, there is nobody that has taken people’s hearts, bitten into them, and tore them into more pieces than his own cartilage than Greg Oden.
My first piece for RipCityProject was titled “Greg Oden Will Fail.” Harsh, I know. I want him to succeed, though, and I don’t think that if he fails it will be his fault. At all.
It’s just that we’ve all seen it. The whole story; not just the gobs that get churned out to the rest of the country.
The Blazers getting the first pick was absolutely unreal. Watch this video to relive the moment, and/or cry. The talk of the town was “Oden or Durant.” I was having conversations at work with customers about it, and while not scientific, I can say that 90 times out of 100, people wanted Oden.
And we got him. We saw him in summer league looking a little like a thinner version of Shaq. Oh, how our mouths did drool! And almost before we could grab a napkin to dab it away, he was injured. How? Why? …HOW?
So we waited. We got a more bloated and slower version of the guy we saw in summer league, but he seemed to loosen up. Another offseason later, and he was really starting to look the part. His confidence was rising. His swagger was getting established. He was blocking shots, dunking viciously, filling up entire chunks of the court with just his mere presence… and then he fell.
He never played again, at least not for us. The guy who was supposed to lead us to multiple championships… poof. Gone. Just like that.