Who is the best Portland Trail Blazer to never become an All-Star?

(Original Caption) USA: Jerome Kersey, forward for the Portland Trailblazers.
(Original Caption) USA: Jerome Kersey, forward for the Portland Trailblazers. /

The Portland Trail Blazers have had the luxury of many stars in franchise history. But that begs the question, who was the best Blazer that was never a star at all?

Throughout basketball history, maintaining consistent success is a tall task for any team. 12 currently active franchises have never even tasted an NBA championship. Of those that have, only five teams have won it on more than three occasions. While the Portland Trail Blazers are not members of that exclusive club, they have fortunately been on the right side of history more often than not.

Portland has held host to 16 All-Star caliber players and earned 42 selections to the game itself over the course of its rich 50 year history. These players have come to define entire generations and serve as an icon for the people of Portland for half a century.

But there have also been plenty of inspirational players that never earned an All-Star selection. that never received the attention and accolades of national stars. Who really is the best player in Blazers history that has never had the word “All-Star” attached to his name?

Here’s a quick refresher of previous Portland All-Stars, disqualifying them from this search for the best of the worst.

  • 1970s: Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Sidney Wicks, Geoff Petrie, Lionel Hollins, Kermit Washington
  • 1980s: Clyde Drexler, Jim Paxson, Steve Johnson, Kevin Duckworth
  • 1990s: Terry Porter, Rasheed Wallace
  • 2000s: Brandon Roy
  • 2010s: Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge

Keep in mind, these are just the bunch of players that received an All-Star nomination while with the Blazers. There are still a handful of Portland greats that were All-Stars for other teams during their career. We can weed these players out accordingly.

  • Scottie Pippen, Buck Williams, Zach Randolph, Kiki Vandeweghe, Calvin Natt

With that being said, we can now dig into the meat of this conversation.

Rod Strickland poses an interesting case for the top spot, as the rare case of a player that was selected to an All-NBA team despite not being named an All-Star. He would average 17.0 points, 8.6 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in his four-year tenure with the Blazers. Two years after departing Portland he would lead the league in assists and earn his All-NBA nomination.

Playing until the age of 38 would inevitably pull his career averages down but at his peak, he was one of the most terrifying players to match up against in his prime. As talented as he was however, his peak could not eclipse another former Blazers.

Arvydas Sabonis is indisputably the most talented player in Portland Trail Blazers history that never received an All-Star selection. His accomplishments overseas are immeasurable and leaves him highly regarded as one of if not the best European basketball players ever. If he had come to the NBA immediately instead of waiting until he was 31-years-old to begin that journey, there’s no doubt he would have been named an All-Star.

Sabonis averaged 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game across seven seasons with his Blazers. His best season came in 1998 when he averaged 16.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. That is probably the singular best season any non All-Star has ever had for Portland, and topped off his eventual Hall of Fame career. In typical Blazers fashion, Sabonis’ playing days would come crashing down due to a lifetime of sustained injuries.

That’s why longevity and long-term sustainability should be the most important factors to consider for any fan that’s watched these last few decades of basketball. And that’s why Jerome Kersey is the best non All-Star in Blazers history.

Drafted as the No. 46 pick in 1984, Kersey would play 11 long seasons with the Blazers and average 12.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Never once did Kersey miss more than 25 percent of games in a season, he was as dependable as they come. The only reason he ever left the franchise was due to the fact the Toronto Raptors grabbed him in the NBA’s 1995 expansion draft.

Kersey has the 6th most Win Shares in franchise history, far ahead of anyone else in contention. He played his heart out for the Blazers and for that reason, stuck around the league until he was 39-years-old. He would even go to be an assistant for Portland Trail Blazers legend Terry Porter as he began his head coaching career.

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Kersey would pass on February 18, 2015 in his own home at the age of 52. He’d be honored with a memorial outside the Moda Center to commemorate everything he gave for the franchise and the city.