The NBA, like any other professional sports league, has always had its share of miscreants and reprobates, but rarely has a single team had so many unsavory figures who racked up so many different infractions over an extended period of time. That was the Portland Trail Blazers from the early-to-mid 2000s.
In true reactionary fashion, the franchise has pushed the pendulum so far in the opposite direction that they’ve grown reluctant to sign anyone of questionable character and/or dubious moral standing, no matter how minor their indiscretions. Some might even argue that in the new era in Rip City, they’d rather have a team full of nice guys than compete for a championship when it comes right down to it.
That may be a bit harsh of an assessment, and they can be forgiven for a certain amount of reticence. Not to mention the fact that the stars who followed on the heels of their misanthropic predecessors – Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard – have been both All-Star-caliber players and upstanding citizens.
Still, the Jail Blazers era was an undeniably entertaining time in Portland, and if we can’t exactly look back fondly on it, we can at least laugh at our collective pain as we reminisce about some of the lowlights it produced.
That Time Damon Stoudamire And Rasheed Wallace Got Pulled Over For Smoking Weed In A Yellow Hummer On The Way Home From A Game Against The Sonics
Let those among us who’ve never blazed up on a road trip with our friends cast the first stone here. This is easily one of the more amusing and comparatively harmless examples of the Jail Blazers’ misadventures.
On Nov. 21, 2002, following a win over the Sonics, Stoudamire and Wallace skipped the team bus and drove back to Portland in Stoudamire’s totally-inconspicuous, canary-yellow Hummer.
They got pulled over for speeding somewhere along the way, where presumably a cartoon cloud of marijuana smoke came billowing out of the driver-side window right into the state trooper’s face. They both eventually agreed to plea bargains.
That Time Damon Stoudamire Tried To Smuggle Over An Ounce Of Weed Onto An Airplane
The following summer, Stoudamire was arrested at the Tuscon airport for trying to bring an ounce-and-a-half of weed onto a commercial flight.
Let’s not forget that these were already post-911 days, not the Wild West of the Transportation Security Administration just a decade or so prior when anybody and their sister could waltz onto an airplane carrying all kinds of questionable contraband without a second glance.
But the best part by far was Stoudamire’s ingenious plan of wrapping the weed in tinfoil before sending it through … you guessed it … the standard-issue metal detector that everyone and their belongings must pass through on the way to the gate.
That Time Bonzi Wells Alienated The Entire Blazers’ Fan Base
By 2001, the relationship between the players and hometown fans (not to mention the local media) had grown increasingly contentious, and after being booed at home during a loss, Bonzi Wells managed to exacerbate the situation exponentially with this infamous quote in Sports Illustrated:
“We’re not really going to worry about what the hell [the fans] think about us. They really don’t matter to us. They can boo us every day, but they are still going to ask for our autographs if they see us on the street. That’s why they are fans and we are NBA players.”
Wells spent two more seasons in Portland after those comments before being traded to Memphis for Wes Pearson. His NBA career was essentially over after that.
That Time Qyntel Woods Got Busted For Running An Underground Dog Fighting Ring Out Of His Home
It was Michael Vick who ultimately brought to light the seedy counterculture of underground dog fighting that operates in the shadows of some pro sports circles. But Blazers forward Qyntel Woods was a couple of years ahead of the curve. In 2004, animal control picked up a wounded pit bull Woods abandoned in an alleyway near his home in Portland.
When local authorities searched his property, they found evidence of an organized dog-fighting ring and subsequently removed six abused/neglected pit bulls from the home. He was initially charged with felony dog-fighting, but was eventually able to plea down to misdemeanor animal abuse. The team waived him almost immediately after.
That Time Qyntel Woods Tried To Use A Basketball Card As ID After Being Pulled Over By Police
I know what you’re thinking: this has to be one of the most hilariously-brazen examples of the time-honored “do you have any idea who I am” defense douchebag famous people use to try and get out of trouble with the law.
But evidently Woods simply didn’t have a driver’s license or proof of insurance, both of which were offenses he’d already been charged with less than a year prior. Of course, the truly unforgivable crime here is that Woods apparently carried his own basketball card around with him at all times.
That Time Darius Miles Called Maurice Cheeks The Dreaded N-Word
Darius Miles had already been disciplined several times that season for various behavioral issues, and his acrimonious relationship with Maurice Cheeks reached its apotheosis during a film session one afternoon in 2005 when Miles reportedly lambasted the embattled Blazers coach with a barrage of racial epithets.
And he’s not the only one who had his issues with Cheeks. Wells was suspended twice in 2003 for blowing up on the coach. It’d gotten so out of control that, by the time of the Miles incident, Cheeks contemplated quitting basketball altogether.
That Time Ruben Patterson Sexually Assaulted His Au Pair
In fairness, Patterson was technically a member of the Seattle Supersonics when he agreed to a plea bargain for the attempted rape of the family’s nanny. As part of the deal, he was sentenced to 15 days in jail and required to register as a sex offender. (The incident is re-imagined in graphic detail in Jeff Benedict’s problematic 2004 book about crime in the NBA, Out of Bounds.)
But that didn’t stop the Blazers from signing him just a few months later and subsequently letting him lurk around until 2006. He was arrested again in 2002 for domestic violence, but the charges were later dropped. Like other players on this list, he had issues with whoever happened to be coaching at the time and earned a suspension in 2006 for a run-in with Nate McMillan before getting traded later that season.
That Time Zach Randolph Sucker-Punched Ruben Patterson During Practice And Shattered His Eye Socket
Zach Randolph’s animus toward Ruben Patterson started almost the moment they set foot on court together. Patterson was notorious for bullying the younger guys in practice; however, the precocious Randolph relished every opportunity to battle team veterans in the post. It was a volatile mix.
One day during a scrimmage in 2003, Patterson was being a little overzealous about targeting Qyntel Woods, so Randolph – who we now know does not bluff – decided to take matters in his own hands and hit Patterson with a devastating hay-maker that literally broke his face.
According to a fantastic Grantland profile from a few years ago, Randolph hid out at Dale Davis’ place for a few days after the altercation because he legitimately worried that Patterson might try to shoot him
Miscellaneous Other Zach Randolph Incidences
Randolph hasn’t played for the Blazers in almost a decade, but he still owns a house there, and the specter of his tumultuous tenure haunts the city to this day. In 2011, members of Z-Bo’s entourage viciously assaulted and robbed a man who was delivering weed to his Portland-area mansion, reportedly beating him savagely with pool cues. You know it’s bad when a weed dealer calls the cops on you.
And that wasn’t the first incident since his departure. Just a few months after he’d been traded to the Knicks in 2007, Z-Bo returned to Portland and hosted a giant New Year’s Eve party at a now-defunct hip hop club called the Greek Cuisina. A huge brawl broke out involving more than 50 people, but miraculously, no charges were ever filed. Regardless, some embittered Portlanders still hold Randolph responsible for getting one of city’s oldest hip hop clubs closed down soon after.