August 26, 2008
This is truly unfortunate.
Kevin Duckworth died yesterday. The former Trail Blazer center was 44, we've no idea as to the cause of his passing, and it hardly matters. That's way too early. For anyone, much less this good a guy.
Duckworth was a pretty solid back to the basket big man, boasting the sort of skills that would easily make him a starting caliber big man today. He could play, he had to endure some smirking asides as to his abilities and toughness, but Duckworth was an enviably-good scorer with long arms and good hands who contributed to some downright dominant Blazer teams.
Those Portland teams were brilliant. I'm having a hard time coming up with a recent team that played as well without actually ending the season with the crown, because modern almost-there's like the Suns and Mavericks weren't even in Portland's league.
From 1990 to 1992, this was the best team in the Western Conference. Though the Bulls had a year for the ages in 1992 (when the Bulls downed Portland in six games), they weren't anywhere near Portland's level in 1990 and were probably on par in 1991, when it took a fluke win in the Conference Finals for Portland to miss the Finals. Portland was so good, so deep, and that team really deserves more of our attention.
Duckworth was a big part of that team, they didn't run many plays for him, but Duck still managed to throw in double-figures most every night even in limited minutes. He wasn't the best (or, OK, a "good") rebounder, but Portland had plenty of guys for that. He was on the cover of Tecmo NBA Basketball, and hung around the NBA until 1996-97, helping fill in for the late Bison Dele as a Los Angeles Clipper pickup.
Keep it civil, keep it tactful, and tell us about any memories of the big man you might have in the comments section.