10 former Portland Trail Blazers that might surprise you

Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Mo Williams, Thomas Robinson, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Shawn Kemp, Seattle SuperSonics (Photo credit should read DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images) /

No. 8: Shawn Kemp (2000-01 – 2001-02)

Statistics: 6.3 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game on 41.8 percent shooting

Shawn Kemp’s championship ventures led him all throughout the Pacific Northwest, beginning with an eight-year reign of terror in Seattle. Over his prime, a six-year run from 1992-93 to 1997-98, he co-captained some legendary SuperSonics teams — not the Bulls — to 357 regular season victories. For reference, over that same period, the Bulls won 362 games. Exactly. And, along the way, Kemp was named as an All-Star all six times, and historically found ways to ramp his play when it mattered most.

Contract disputes ended his championship hunger in Seattle, and cravings at a different place began. While his weight was upwards of 300 pounds, his statistics were on the downturn. Still, the Portland Trail Blazers took a flyer, via a three-team trade that brought them Kemp, while losing fan favorite Brian Grant and Gary Grant.

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The reign was over for “The Reign Man,” by 2000-01, though. The closest he could come to history by then was his dubious record for leading the league in fouls per game, something he did three times throughout his career, including a league-high, and 6.1 fouls per 36 minutes in his first year in Rip City.

Experts around the league spent the better part of 2000-01 and 2001-02 wondering what could’ve been if Kemp had swapped plate cleaning for glass cleaning a bit sooner. He eventually did, a three-a-day oatmeal plan nearly opening the door for him to return and change his legacy.

There were brief stretches; in his first three games, Kemp was providing 14.3 points and 7.7 rebounds for an always-deep Blazers bench. He made a brief cameo alongside Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill in Orlando, and 2001-02, and was never seen again, though.

These days, it’s easy to kick a man while he’s down, but at his best, few power forwards were as lethal. His case for, say, the Hall of Fame can be easily crafted. But odds are, his time in Portland trim won’t be mentioned while doing so.