Portland Trail Blazers: 4 thoughts from the “Rip City Revival” documentary

Terry Porter, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Terry Porter, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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Portland Trail Blazers
Rick Adelman, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by: Ken Levine/Getty Images) /

Will we ever see a roster continuity to this degree again?

It’s certainly a shame that NBA jerseys look as good as they do today, because the value and history of them probably mean very little in value, compared to in the past. Case in point: I’ll never forget the summer of 2018, and the happiness I had in ordering a Carmelo Anthony jersey, in support of his championship-chase to Oklahoma City.

In a figurative sense, by the time I hit “add to cart,” Anthony was a Houston Rocket.

By the time the jersey shipped and hit the mailbox, Anthony was a Portland Trail Blazer.

Because roster turnover is so prevalent in this win-immediately-or-bust era, it’s unclear as to how often, if at all, we’ll be able to see another team capable of matching Portland’s vibe and year-to-year continuity.

To illustrate: in 1986-87, the Blazers were sure they’d have a young core worth riding into the decade with, having had Clyde Drexler (24-years-old), Jerome Kersey (24), Terry Porter (23), and Kevin Duckworth (22).

By 1994-95 — eight ringless years later — pepper-black hair had been sprinkled with salt, and signs of age were evident. But the names on the back of the jersey had remained the same; Drexler, Duckworth, Kersey and Porter were still on the team, driving the engine to a team with championship aspirations. And players like Cliff Robinson and Mark Bryant rode in the “trunk,” plugging along for six and seven years each, respectively.

Like a hungry mosquito at a family BBQ, one could make the case that this welcome was overstayed by both the players and management. In one way, it could be seen as a cautionary tale for keeping a core together for too long, but in another, it certainly becomes easier to root for a team when you don’t have to ask, “Now what’s his name again?

In a shelf of the NBA’s greatest teams, the late-1980s to early-1990s, the Blazers would be something of a rare, collector’s item. In today’s NBA, only five teams — Denver, San Antonio, Orlando and Milwaukee — brought back 75 percent of the roster from the previous years.

Here’s how Portland’s roster percentages remained steady from year-to-year. 80 percent of roster returns in 1986-87, 84 percent in 1987-88, 82 percent in 1988-89, 64 percent in 1989-90, and then 88 percent, 94 percent, 73, 84 and 88 over the next three seasons.

That’s a brotherhood. That’s a team worth rooting for. And unfortunately, that’s a team we aren’t likely to see much of in the cap era. The only teams to threaten that have been the Duncan-era Spurs and the Durant-era Thunder, both long in the rearview of the NBA’s current footpath.