Sun Devil Lionel Hollins Honored By Trail Blazers With Number Retirement
May 1, 2007
Thirty years ago this June, the Portland Trail Blazers shocked the basketball world winning the NBA Championship over the heavily-favored Philadelphia 76ers, 4-2. With the national spotlight shining on Portland and the ensuing celebrations statewide, the 1977 NBA World Championship proved to be a defining moment for Portland, Oregon.
The Trail Blazers paid special tribute to the 1977 NBA World Champions during ceremonies at Portland's final regular season game against the Golden State Warriors on April 18. The reunion was highlighted by the retiring of the No. 14 jersey worn by former Trail Blazers guard and Arizona State graduate and Hall of Famer, Lionel Hollins, who played an integral role on the championship team.
'The 1977 team set the bar by which all other Trail Blazers teams are judged,' said Mike Golub, Trail Blazers executive vice president. 'It was a very special team and a very special time for the franchise, its fans and the City of Portland.'
'We wanted to make the reunion very special for this team and the consensus among the alumni, coaches and organization was that retiring Lionel Hollins' jersey was long overdue and the right thing to do, so this seemed the perfect opportunity,' added Golub. 'We couldn't be more excited to raise the `Train's' jersey to the rafters to join the other Trail Blazer greats.'
Hollins joined fellow 1977 champion teammates Dave Twardzik (#13), Larry Steele (#15), Maurice Lucas (#20), Bill Walton (#32), and Lloyd Neal (#36) to have their jerseys retired. The only other Trail Blazers to have their jerseys retired are Geoff Petrie (#45) and Clyde Drexler (#22).
The Trail Blazers are also paying homage to the team on trailblazers.com website with a special 1977 World Champions section, which features news, stats, photos, video and a variety of archived material from 1977.
The Trail Blazers drafted Hollins out of Arizona State University with the sixth overall pick in the 1975 NBA Draft. He played five seasons for the Portland Trail Blazers from 1975-1980, averaging 13.6 points per game.
Hollins is currently an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies.
Arizona State inducted Hollins into the Pac-10 Hall of Honor in 2006. The Pac-10 Hall of Honor inducted its first class in March of 2002 at the Pac-10 Tournament Hall of Honor Banquet. Byron Scott was ASU's initial inductee while Ned Wulk (2003), Fat Lever (2004) and Joe Caldwell (2005) followed. The Pac-10 Basketball Hall of Honor was created to recognize athletes and coaches who have made significant contributions to the tradition and heritage of each Pac-10 school's men's basketball program.
A 1986 ASU graduate with a degree in sociology, Hollins is a 1975 charter member of the ASU Hall of Fame and was a two-time team Most Valuable Player who started every game in his two-year career and led ASU to a 43-13 (.768) record. He was the leading scorer at 17.3 points per game in 1973-74 as the Sun Devils went 18-9 and then averaged 16.7 points as ASU went 25-4 in 1974-75 and tied for the Western Athletic Conference title with a 12-2 record. In 1975, Hollins was a first-team All-American by The Sporting News and Converse Yearbook and earned third-team honors by the Associated Press and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC).
A two-time All-Western Athletic Conference first-team selection, he led ASU to the NCAA Tournament in 1975, as ASU beat No. 10 Alabama (97-94 in Tempe in front of a building-record crowd of 14,733) and 16th-ranked UNLV (84-81 in Portland) before falling to top-ranked UCLA 89-75 in Portland.
He also led the team in assists and minutes per game in both his seasons with 3.1 assists in 31.1 minutes per game in 1973-74 and 5.1 and 31.4 in 1974-75. He was the ASU Holiday Tournament Most Valuable Player in 1974, as ASU beat Montana and Nebraska. ASU went 14-0 in his senior year (1974-75) at home in the newly-opened University Activity Center.
A 6-3 guard, Hollins played two years at Dixie Community College in St. George, Utah, before his stellar Sun Devil career. He was selected by the Portland Trail Blazers with the sixth pick overall in the 1975 NBA draft. He earned All-Rookie honors in 1975-76 and one year later, Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas and Hollins led the Blazers to their first and only NBA championship and. In his five years as a Trail Blazer, he was a three-time All-Defensive team pick and played in the 1978 NBA All-Star Game.
After a decade in the NBA that included three NBA Final appearance and stints with Philadelphia (1980-82), San Diego (1982-83), Detroit (1983-84) and Houston (1984-85), Hollins returned to Arizona State as an assistant coach for the 1985-86 and 1987-88 seasons. He has more than a dozen years of coaching experience at the NBA level, serving as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Suns (1988-95) and Vancouver Grizzlies (1995-1999), helping the Suns to a 394-180 overall record as they posted at least 50 wins and reaching the playoffs in seven straight seasons. The Suns reached the 1993 NBA Finals and won Pacific Division titles in 1993 and 1995.
Hollins also served as the Grizzlies interim head coach during the 1999-2000 season. He also was the head coach of the St. Louis SkyHawks of the USBL and assisted with the Harlem Globetrotters during their 2001 Fall College Exhibition Series. He also served as head coach of the Las Vegas Bandits of the International Basketball League (2000-01), leading the team to a 20-11 record. Twice he has served on the staff of winning NBA All-Star teams, both in Phoenix (1995) and in Salt Lake City (1993).
Hollins was born Oct. 19, 1953 in Arkansas City, Kansas