Portland Trail Blazers: Can Joe Cronin help sell the NBA on Portland?

Joe Cronin, Damian Lillard, NBA, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images)
Joe Cronin, Damian Lillard, NBA, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images) /

Is Portland the NBA’s most unappreciated city? Are the Portland Trail Blazers the NBA’s most underrated team? It certainly seems that way at times, but perhaps new blood in the front office in the form of Interim General Manager Joe Cronin can change both of those things.

The Blazers and Portland have tried unsuccessfully to land NBA All-Star Weekend for eons. The NBA’s reasoning has always been the lack of lodging in the area, which we know isn’t necessarily true as there is plenty around the Moda Center, Portland itself, Vancouver, The Beaverton/Hillsboro communities, and possibly even further down Interstate Five South where there are plenty of hotels/motels near Wilsonville and further.

Aside from just All-Star weekend, it’s been a pattern that superstar players and big fish free agents that the Blazers might have their eye on don’t seem to be interested in signing with the team. That’s likely because Portland is a small market, but the Northwest itself should be attractive.

Chauncey Billups, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
Chauncey Billups, Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images) /

It’s time that the Portland Trail Blazers become a “big market”

For the players that may enjoy skiing and the mountains? Mt. Hood is about two hours away from the city with plenty of skiing opportunities on a non-gameday.

Those that enjoy the beach don’t necessarily need to take their talents to Florida or California.  Seaside and Cannon Beach are less than an hour and a half from Portland. Blazers past and present have been known to frequent those towns. Former coach Jack Ramsay owned a cabin in Cannon Beach. The Columbia River Gorge Highway is a nice drive with the Columbia River following it, with plenty of waterfalls, including the picturesque Multnomah Falls if a day drive is needed.

Why wouldn’t players want to play next to a six-time All-Star named Damian Lillard? An up-and-coming coach who was a player in the league from 1997-to 2014, a five-time all-star himself in Chauncey Billups?

Portland and the Blazers don’t seem to get the attention from the NBA, or even the national television broadcasters, that they should — even during the seasons they’re playing well or had been the previous season. National announcers seem to focus more on the opponent when broadcasting.

All of that could change this summer, starting with the NBA Draft lottery. If Portland can luck into the position to draft one of the future stars such as Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero to pair with Damian Lillard, they should command the TV attention that they deserve. Joe Cronin, Head Coach Chauncey Billups, and Dame have all said that they plan on proving that Portland can be a marquee free agent destination this summer. It’s time to bring the stars to Portland, first through free agency, then with the All-Star Weekend.

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