ON THE NBA
Notes, quotes and observations about the NBA
You really haven't made it in the league until you have a beer named after you, right?
So now the greatest point guard in Trail Blazer history, Terry Porter, has his.
And it's called, of course, "Terry Porter."
The new limited-edition craft beer is the result of a partnership between Porter and Gilgamesh Brewing of Salem, with proceeds going to the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation's guest-house facility project.
The dark, malty Porter-style beer is scheduled for release through the state next week.
Gilgamesh officials approached Porter with the idea, "and when the agreement included Doernbecher, I was all in," Porter says. "It's a great cause. I feel thrilled and honored to be a part of this."
Porter has visited the Gilgamesh plant several times and helped develop the taste of his namesake beer.
"The very first batch, I put the ingredients in," he says. "I've been a part of the process."
Porter joins broadcasting great Bill Schonely as legendary Blazers with their own beer. Pyramid Breweries developed the "Schonz Red Session Ale" last year.
"The Schonz and I will have to do a taste-off," Porter jokes.
TNT's David Aldridge, my old sportswriting comrade who pens a terrific and thorough weekly column for NBA.com, recently put together a top dozen players for each of the NBA's 30 franchises.
His picks for Portland: Geoff Petrie, Sidney Wicks, Bill Walton, Lionel Hollins, Maurice Lucas, Mychal Thompson, Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, Rasheed Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard.
I'd argue for three other players who should be included -- Brandon Roy, Jim Paxson and Cliff Robinson.
Though Roy played only 4 1/2 seasons, he was a three-time All-Star and the face of the franchise as it rebounded from its "Jail Blazer" era.
Paxson spent eight years in a Portland uniform, was a two-time All-Star and was the first of the six Blazers to top the 10,000-point mark.
Robinson, who also played eight years with the Blazers, contributed heavily on some great teams, made an All-Star Game and trails only Drexler, Aldridge and Porter on the franchise career scoring list.
If you had to pare the list to a dozen, I'd remove Hollins, Wallace and Lillard -- the latter needing another year or two of All-Star-caliber play before he joins the club.
By the way: If I had to list a top five in order, I'd offer Drexler, Aldridge, Walton, Roy and Porter.
Speaking of Aldridge -- LaMarcus, that is: It's a different world for the veteran power forward in San Antonio, but he seems to be adjusting just fine.
"It's difficult to do in your first year," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich says. "A lot of guys take a whole year to get used to us. He has been remarkable in catching on this quickly."
After averaging at least 21 points in each of his final five seasons in Portland, Aldridge is scoring at a 15.8-point clip, on pace to be lowest since his rookie year. He is averaging 8.9 rebounds, fewest since the 2011-12 season.
The 10-year veteran is also averaging 29.6 minutes, lowest since his rookie season. That should bode well for fresher legs for a long playoff run with the Spurs, who are 31-6 and on a collision course with Golden State en route to the Western Conference finals.
Aldridge is the No. 2 option behind small forward Kawhi Leonard, who is averaging 20.7 points and 6.9 rebounds and is on the short list for the league's most valuable player award.
In the past five seasons, Aldridge scored six points or fewer four times. This season, he has already posted three six-point games.
"It doesn't matter about me," Aldridge says. "It's about the wins. When you're on a team with so much talent and is so unselfish I knew it would be like this."
Besides Leonard and the obvious choices -- Stephen Curry and LeBron James -- the other player getting run in MVP mention is Golden State forward Draymond Green, who had an unbelievable string of three straight triple-doubles last week.
The 6-7, 230-pound Green is averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.4 assists, leading studio analyst Isaiah Thomas to dub him "DrayMagic."
Says Tom Tolbert, Golden State's radio analyst: "Dray shoots from the perimeter better. Magic (Johnson) was never a great perimeter shooter. No one was as good as Magic in the open court. He was incredible. But the thing I notice from both is leadership -- being vocal."
It's a shame that former Blazer guard Jarrett Jack's season with the Brooklyn Nets is over. Jack, 32, underwent ACL surgery on his left knee after suffering an injury against Boston last Saturday. The 11-year veteran, who spent his first three seasons (2005-08) with Portland, was averaging 12.8 points and 7.4 assists and giving Hollins' team some solidity at the point.
Another ex-Blazer guard, Elliot Williams, has been tearing it up in the NBA Development League.
The 6-5 Williams, who played only 24 games through three injury-plagued seasons with Portland (2010-13) before being released by general manager Neil Olshey, is leading the D-League in scoring by a mile at 27.8 points for the Santa Cruz Warriors while also averaging 7.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists. Williams, who played with Philadelphia, New Orleans and Utah after leaving Portland, was rated the No. 1 call-up-eligible prospect in the D-League.
(Called up by Memphis on Thursday, Williams made his debut with the Grizzlies Friday night, scoring two points in 10 minutes off the bench of a 91-84 win over Denver.)
The Bovado.com gambling site recently re-set odds for the 30 NBA teams to win a championship this season, and the Blazers didn't get much respect.
Portland is listed as a 1,000-to-1 bet to win the NBA title. Only Philadelphia and the Lakers (off the board) are longer shots.
George Karl is a survivor -- of cancer and of an NBA head coaching career that has spanned more than three decades. The Sacramento coach, in his sixth stop as an NBA head coach beginning with Cleveland in 1984, recently passed Phil Jackson to move into fifth place on the league's career coaching wins list at 1,156. He is within range of Jerry Sloan (1,221) and Pat Riley (1,210), which would leave him trailing only Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens.
That Jimmy Butler scored 40 points in the second half of Chicago's 115-113 win over Toronto on Sunday to break Michael Jordan's franchise record of 39 is startling enough. What really grabs you is Butler had two points in the first half.
That's right. The Bulls' shooting guard was 1 for 4 from the field before halftime, 14 for 20 afterward.
Then there is Elton Brand, the well-respected power forward whose grand 16-year career seemed to come to an end after spending last season as a little-used reserve with Atlanta.
So why would Brand, 36, choose to sign a contract this week to play for the lowly 76ers?
"I know what you're thinking," Brand wrote in a first-person article for Sports Illustrated's "The Cauldron" section. "Dude, you've made over $167 million in your career. You're not a good player anymore. What possible reason could you have for joining the Sixers, a team with a 3-33 record?
"The truth is, my decision isn't about money, and it isn't about rings. It isn't about me, really, even though every athlete would like to go out on his own terms. It's about repaying what's owed, about making sure that the young men who follow in my footsteps get what they're entitled to (and what I haven't always given them)."
Brand will mentor Philadelphia's prize rookie, Jahlil Okafor, and young big men Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. He'll be a role model and impart some wisdom that hasn't yet been passed on to them.
That's a gentleman, and a true pro. The Sixers are fortunate to have him.