Trail Blazers News: Where Bill Walton Ranks Among All-Time Portland Legends

The Hall of Fame big man passed away last month.
Unknown date; Los Angeles, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Portland Trailblazers center Bill Walton (32) pulls down a rebound against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Forum. Mandatory Credit: MPS-USA TODAY Sports
Unknown date; Los Angeles, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Portland Trailblazers center Bill Walton (32) pulls down a rebound against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Forum. Mandatory Credit: MPS-USA TODAY Sports / MPS-USA TODAY Sports

Late great MVP and champion Portland Trail Blazers center Bill Walton sadly passed away last month at the age of 71. In the intervening weeks, fans and pundits alike have taken to reflecting on his life and legacy.

The 6-foot-11 big man only spent five seasons in Rip City (although he missed the entire 1978-79 season due to a foot injury), but he made quite the impact during his injury-abbreviated tenure. Walton averaged 17.1 points on 51 percent shooting from the floor, 13.5 boards, 4.4 dimes, 2.6 blocks, and one steal, while earning a pair of All-Defensive and All-NBA team selections, two All-Star nods, the 1977 title and the 1978 league MVP.

During a new installment of The Oregonian's "Blazer Focused" podcast, Aaron Fentress and Craig Birnbach debated where Walton ranks historically among the other two generally-regarded all-time Blazers stars in point guard Damian Lillard and Hall of Fame shooting guard/small forward Clyde Drexler,

"For me, the best [Portland] player period is Walton," Fentress opined, with regards to essentially which player, at his peak, was the Blazers' best. "The 'greatest' is a three-way tie because Walton gave you the title and MVP, Clyde was just so amazing and only got denied titles mainly because of [Michael] Jordan and Magic [Johnson] and the bad boy Detroit Pistons, and then Dame has the numbers and the length of career and the All-NBAs and the All-Stars and the scoring title."

Drexler led Portland to two NBA Finals, in 1990 and 1992, falling to the Pistons and Bulls, respectively. Drexler eventually won his lone league title as a sidekick to Hall of Fame center Hakeem Olajuwon on the 1995 Houston Rockets. The furthest Lillard took the Trail Blazers was one Western Conference Finals berth, in 2019. He's now a sidekick to two-time MVP power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo on the Milwaukee Bucks, though he is still waiting for his first championship. Both All-Stars had far better injury luck than Walton, but neither could match him at his absolute best.

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Alex Kirschenbaum

ALEX KIRSCHENBAUM

Clyde, Rick Barry, and Pistol Pete Now these players, could never be beat.