February 24, 2011. It was on this day that the Blazer pulled off a trade to secure the services of Bobcats star Gerald Wallace.
The Blazers went 16-9 after Crash arrived in Rip City, finishing the season with a 48-34 record.
Unfortunately, the Blazers would lose in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks. Despite the series loss, Game 4 will forever be remembered in Rip City. That was the game where Brandon Roy forgot his knees were shot and scored 18 points in the fourth quarter to give Portland the win.
It was the last game Roy would ever play in Portland.
But the story of Roy can be saved for another time. This story is about Wallace.
The Blazers, now Roy-less, stumbled the following season. By the time the trade deadline came around, Portland was ready to hit the reset button.
They had young pieces they wanted to build the future with in Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and LaMarcus Aldridge. They weren't going anywhere. If Portland wanted to make noise they had to move some of their established pieces. That meant that Wallace, who had barely been in PDX for a full year, was now trade bait.
On March 15, 2012 the Blazers found a taker in the Brooklyn Nets. Portland sent Wallace to Brooklyn for Mehmet Okur, Shawne Williams, and a 2012 first-round pick.
Okur and Williams would never play a single game for the Blazers, but that future pick would end up being a legend.
Three months after acquiring the pick, Portland would use it to select a little-known guard out of Weber State with the sixth overall pick. That player was Damian Lillard.
Nine years later, Wallace is no longer in the NBA and Lillard is one of the greatest Blazers of All-Time.
Lillard is currently in the middle of an MVP caliber season, and hold averages of 24.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 6.6 assists for his career.
He has also shattered Wesley Matthew's team record of 826 three-pointers made. Lillard is at 1900 and counting.
So yeah, the Lillard pick ended up being a good one. And to think, had the Blazers not made a move with Charlotte in 2011 they would have never had a chance to be here in the first place.
February 24, 2011 may seem like a minor day in Trail Blazers history, but it may be one of the biggest. It gave Portland the pieces they needed for a trade down the road. It gave them leverage to secure an extra first-round pick in 2012.
It ended up giving them Damian Lillard.