01 February 2010
When Andre Miller dropped 52 points on Saturday night against the Dallas Mavericks, visions of Damon Stoudamire once again came to life.
Five years ago against the New Orleans Hornets, Stoudamire set a franchise scoring record with 54 points – a career-high for the Portland native and 1995 Rookie of the Year – including eight three-pointers.
Ironically enough, Stoudamire would be gone by later that summer.
A few weeks back when the Memphis Grizzlies were in town, I’d planned on getting with Damon pregame for a feature story for the Portland Sentinel (“Damon finds today’s Portland is nowhere like home”) and I knew I’d have to wait my turn after he made his rounds.
“People are just like that because I’m from here,” Damon grinned.
“If we weren’t winning, they wouldn’t be doing that.”
For about ten minutes, Damon reflected on his old neighborhood and how he blew out his knee in Portland while playing for the Grizzlies.
“It looked like one of our guys. It looked like Greg (Oden) or Joel (Przybilla) this season,” Nate McMillan told me later, thinking back to watching Stoudamire go to the ground that night. “It was tough to see.”
Before closing the quick interview, I asked Damon if he thought he’d one day retire with the Blazers. Even though his contract was up, he wasn’t sure if he’d return to Portland that summer or not.
“I never really knew, to be honest with you. I never really knew,” Stoudamire said, as he stood courtside drenched after working out a couple Memphis bigs.
“I thought the longer I was here, I thought that I would [end his career in Portland]. Once I saw them start making changes, I saw the evolution of something new. I knew I probably wasn’t going to be here after a while. It was more business. They had a bunch of young guys and were trying to get the youth in. I understood that. I wasn’t bitter.”
The seeds of change were being planted and would be cultivated in the following seasons through the NBA Draft, where Martell Webster arrived in 2005 as Stoudamire was on his way out. But even with Damon’s tenure in Portland at times met with mixed reviews, Stoudamire remains a fan favorite to Blazers die-hards who applaud what he did for the franchise.
And maybe….just maybe….Damon will one day be a Blazer again, that is if the organization will have him. But would you welcome him back?
“If I could be part of the organization, that would be great,” Damon said.