Portland Trail Blazers: Five non-Jordan, non-Durant stars the Blazers missed on drafting

Larry Bird, Boston Celtics (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Larry Bird, Boston Celtics (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Julius Erving. Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images /

No. 2: Julius Erving, University of Massachusetts

No. 3: Bob McAdoo, University of North Carolina

Year: 1972

Original Pick: LaRue Martin, University of Loyola University in Chicago

At some point, you have to wonder if the same people who ran WCW: Monday Nitro ran the Portland Trail Blazers some years before. Long before picking Oden and Bowie over more sure-thing perimeter stars, the affinity for big men cost them a chance at selecting a pair of future Most Valuable Player award winners in Julius Erving and Bob McAdoo.

After suffering an 11-game setback in 1972, the 18-64 Blazers won a coin flip over the Buffalo Braves for the rights to the No. 1 pick in the draft. There were plenty of proven candidates, but over a half-century later, it’s safe to say the Blazers misstepped on this one.

Here’s the rationale: for those unaware, the ABA and NBA were in a bit of a battle for prominence in the basketball world — similar to that of WCW and WWF — and the rights to North Carolina’s Bob McAdoo presented a memorable tug-of-war. The ABA held a “secret draft” and they’d lured McAdoo away. From Bleacher Report’s Greg Eno described it in 2010:

"“It looked like McAdoo was going to be ours,” Jack said in his famously raspy voice. The negotiations were going fine. But close to the draft, the owner (of the Trail Blazers) and Bob’s agent disappeared into a room. “When they came out, the deal was off.”"

In came LaRue Martin (or as some have called him, “LaRue who?) The similarities between him and Julius Erving began with their afros — and that’s where they stopped too. Martin earned cool points for going toe-to-toe with UCLA’s Bill Walton.

To be fair, he didn’t always have the fairest of shakes. He never averaged more than 20 minutes per game, and his Per 36 minutes paint him to be a double-double machine.

Excuses aside though, this one is sickening to see, too. Somebody call a doctor. Preferably Julius Erving.