For many Portland Trail Blazers role players, the Playoffs have presented a chance to breakout, Here are four players that became household names and earned big contracts with the lights on brightest.
Around this time a year ago, I wrote a Portland Trail Blazers-centric piece entitled, “June Isn’t For Everyone.” The premise was simple: the Blazers wouldn’t always be gifted the luxury of All-Star votes in February, championship runs spanning to June, supermax slots in July, or ring ceremonies in October.
Maybe they couldn’t always hang with the Western Conference heavyweights in the tussle for championships, but they always had a puncher’s chance in the battle for our memories — a fight for a spot for a chance to be discussed among the likes of the big-market juggernauts.
Just three Finals appearances in 50 years all-but-ensures that those tug-of-wars for our innermost memories happen in April or early May.
It also doesn’t help that Blazers players don’t always get the same amount of opportunities to shine on a bright, exclusive stage. Despite making the Playoffs in every season since 2012-13 and cracking out three top-four finishes out West, here’s how they’ve stood:
▪ 6 national TV games in 2013-14 (missed Playoffs in 2012–13)
▪ 16 national TV games in 2014-15 (lost West Semis)
▪ 5 national TV games in 2015-16 (lost in West First Round)
▪ 7 national TV games in 2016-17 (lost West Semis)
▪ 11 national TV games in 2017-18 (lost in West First Round)
▪ 13 national TV games in 2018-19 (lost in West First Round)
▪ 20 national TV games in 2019-20 (lost in West Finals)
The love has been sure, but slow. But because they pale in comparison to other teams, fans are often caught by surprise when Portland has breakout players. As a disclaimer: some of these players went on to become stars, but at the time, they were role players, who used this as a boost to become something greater.
Today, we’ll take a look at a few of those — players who used the late-April, early-May swing to become either household names, or showcase themselves to the national audience, and earn tons of money in the process.