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2004 Portland Trail Blazers: End of the Jail Blazers

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Roar Guru
5th May, 2020
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No Scottie Pippen, no Arvydas Sabonis and before the season even started, a Portland Trail Blazer was in trouble with the law.

Former Rookie of the Year Damon Stoudamire was arrested at an Arizona airport after he was caught with 1.5 ounces of marijuana wrapped in aluminum foil.

Now that I think about it, I have written the word ‘marijuana’ more times writing the Portland series than I ever thought I would when writing about a professional sports organisation.

Portland were this close to reaching the NBA finals in 2000 – a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter away from playing an inferior Pacer team – but they choked in Game 7 to the Lakers.

A little older and a lot less familiar, the Blazers traded away Bonzi Wells and Rasheed Wallace to fix their notorious public image, but not all fans were pleased with the departures.

The co-captains were far from perfect, but like the bad boy Pistons of the 1980s, the Jail Blazers of the 2000s were so villainous that fans grew to love them. Why watch the incompetent but friendly Sonics when you can watch the gifted but wild Blazers? Teams like these become rarer each generation, and Wallace and Bonzi were the faces of one of the last conspicuous bad guys era.

Rasheed was traded after 45 games, while Bonzi was shipped out ten games in. For trading a undeniable star of the league, the Blazers were able to get Theo Ratliff, which fans are still sore about.

However Ratliff is underappreciated for what he did on the defence end, leading the league in blocks that year and achieving that milestone for the third time in four years.

But it would not be the Jail Blazers if Qyntel Woods was not charged with driving without a licence and running a dog-fighting ring. He did not play in a Blazer uniform again.

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A young Zach Randolph was an exciting developing story to look forward to. In his second season in the league, Randolph averaged 8.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists, while in 2004, he doubled his averages for points, rebounds and assists – 20.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Taking home the Most Improved Player award, his Blazers finished with a 41-41 record, just two spots away from the playoffs in a tough Western Conference.

This would mark the end of Jail Blazers, as they missed the playoffs for the first time in 21 seasons. Crazy, right? The last time they missed the playoffs from 2004, their best player was Mychal Thompson.

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