When the Trail Blazers were just getting under way in Portland, they took a chance on a big man out of Tennessee State in Nashville in the form of power forward/center Lloyd Neal. Neal would leave the Music City for the Pacific Northwest via his selection in the 1972 NBA Draft. Turns out, Portland would be the only professional franchise Neal would play for.
The former third-round selection (yes, there were more than two rounds back in the day) would join the Trail Blazers in their third-ever season. No, the Trail Blazers weren’t the least bit good in the early 1970s, but it was only a matter of time before Blazer Mania took over the Pacific Northwest. Neal was obviously a big part of that 1977 championship team.
Frankly, Neal’s best season as a professional was his first when he made the NBA All-Rookie first team. That season, he averaged 13.4 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists. Interestingly, that would be his only season that he averaged a double-double for the Trail Blazers. Unfortunately, injuries cut short his career, having to retire after the 1978-79 NBA season at age 28.
Overall, Neal averaged over double figures in scoring four times in his seven-year NBA career. In only 435 career games, Neal posted 11.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game in 25.3 minutes per contest. Like many of his 1976-77 teammates, Neal has his jersey retired by the Trail Blazers organization. This came in 1979 on the heels of his retirement from ball due to injury.