Terry Stotts reminds Portland what it means to be a Trail Blazer

Portland Trail Blazers - Terry Stotts (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Portland Trail Blazers - Terry Stotts (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

For his work with the Portland Trail Blazers organization, Terry Stotts has been named recipient of the 2019 Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year Award.

As the fourth longest tenured head coach in the entire NBA, Terry Stotts has endeared himself to the people of Portland since the summer of 2012. His hard work with the team on the court and in the city off the court have since been recognized. For his work with the Portland Trail Blazers organization, Terry Stotts has been named recipient of the 2019 Slats Gill Sportsperson of the Year Award by the Oregon Sports Awards.

This award is designed to shed a little light on an “outstanding coach, administrator or organization from an Oregon-based team.”

Slats Gill is something of a locally celebrated Portland sports icon. Gill attended Oregon State University in Corvallis from 1921-24 where he was a two-time All-Pacific Coast Conference team member in basketball. After graduating, Gill would go to coach at the same school for 36 long years. He led the team to two Final Fours, five conference championships, and an incredible 599-393 record.

Gill would tragically pass in 1966 — two years after his retirement from coaching — just 30 miles outside of where he was born and raised in Salem, Oregon. To commemorate the life he lived, Gill was elected into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and has been honored with his namesake on Oregon’s annual Sportsperson of the Year Award since 1957.

It makes sense then that Stotts would receive recognition for this award after everything he has done to uplift the Portland Trail Blazers franchise.

Serving the Blazers since 2012, Portland has gone 325-249 in that time and made the playoffs in every year since 2013-14. Comparing his tenure to the previous eight years where the Blazers went a collective 301-339 while only qualifying for the playoffs three times (all of which ended in a swift first-round exit), this should serve as a distinct reminder how big of an impact Stotts has had.

Stotts is a man who puts his money where his mouth is, with experience playing at highest level in college, in the NBA, and overseas in Italy, Spain and France. At one point, he even had the opportunity to play for NBA coaching legend George Karl in the CBA, which he eventually conveyed into an assistant coaching job with the Dallas Mavericks team that would go on to win a championship in 2011.

Karl is one of only nine coaches to ever hit one thousand wins in the league, and his tutelage proved instrumental in helping Stotts become the person he is today. In the basketball world’s own version of the circle of life, it was now Stotts turn to play the mentor.

He has since helped players like Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum become not only successful NBA players, but mature men that are leaders in the Portland community. Although Portland is not often seen as a very attractive free agent destination, Stotts is a coach that demands respect and in turn the players come to respect the culture here as well.

Not often do you find former Blazers with negative things to say about Portland. In fact, even short visits for a private workout can leave lasting impressions on potential draft targets.

Portland is a city that is proud of its people. Proud of its past. Proud of its identity.

Terry Stotts is just one man who has embraced the bigger picture here in Portland. However, sometimes all it takes is one small cog to get the entire machine back up and running again.

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Thank you Terry for helping make the Portland Trail Blazers one of the most successful franchises in the NBA of the last decade. This award is just a small token of our tremendous gratitude.