Blazers retire Bobby Gross' No. 30
PORTLAND, Ore. -- While Terry Porter is Portland's better-known No. 30, Bobby Gross is fondly remembered among Trail Blazers fans for his contribution to the team's only NBA championship.
Two days after the Blazers retired Porter's No. 30, the team similarly honored Gross, a 6-foot-6 small forward who spent seven of his eight NBA seasons with Portland.
Gross was humbled by the gesture, calling it the most incredible honor he could have ever hoped for.
"I can't think of anything bigger," Gross said.
Gross was the 25th overall pick by the Trail Blazers in the 1975 draft. He averaged 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds and three assists with the team.
But it was his performance in the 1976-77 post season that set him apart.
On a team that included Bill Walton, Lionel Hollins, Maurice Lucas and Dave Twardzik, Gross averaged 14.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals over 19 playoff games.
In the championships series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Gross was not only effective in stopping Julius Erving, he took off on a scoring tear that would give the Blazers a victory in Game 5.
With the series knotted at 2-2, Gross had 25 points, and was 10-of-13 from the field, in Portland's pivotal 110-104 win in Philadelphia.
"Without him, we couldn't have done it," Lucas said.
Walton wrote a tribute to Gross for the Blazers' Web site.
"He made it happen! It was everything about him. It was his selflessness. It was his skill. It was his mental acuity. It was his sense of spacing. It was his hands. It was his touch. It was his brain. It was his personality," Walton wrote. "And it was the joy with which he competed that was so infectious.
"And it was never about him. It was always about the team winning, always about the greater goal of the group. It was just incredibly inspirational."
Teammates Lucas and Lloyd Neal attended the jersey ceremony Thursday night at the half of the Blazers' game against the Phoenix Suns.
As his jersey was lofted to the rafters of the Rose Garden, Gross was given a standing ovation.
He said his fondest memory is of the fans that met the Blazers when they arriving back in Portland at 2:30 a.m. after having won the NBA title.
"It still touches me," he said. Those are the things that I remember -- you fans," he said.
Portland is just the third NBA team to retire a jersey in honor of multiple players. New York has retired No. 15 for Dick McGuire and Earl Monroe, while Boston has retired No. 18 for Dave Cowens and Jim Loscutoff.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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