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Portland Purge
Jack McCallum
December 15, 2003
Traded
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December 15, 2003

Portland Purge

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Traded

By the Trail Blazers to the Grizzlies, guard Bonzi Wells, who in the first month of the season was fined for making an obscene gesture at a fan and stripped of his captaincy for cursing at coach Maurice Cheeks during a game. By unloading the 27-year-old Wells for less than equal value (journeyman guard Wesley Person, a conditional first-round pick and $1 million), Portland's new management showed it is serious about its preseason pledge to change the team's noxious culture.

"It is key for fans to understand we are following through," said president Steve Patterson, who was brought in before this season along with general manager John Nash. Their charge is to revive a franchise that is losing its fan base—attendance is down 17% despite Portland's 10-2 home record—after four drug-related arrests in 13 months and countless acts of insubordination that have made the once proud Trail Blazers into America's Anti-team. But how far can the purge go? Portland can't be competitive if it jettisons its brood of problem children, which includes guard Damon Stoudamire (snagged with pot last year); forward Rasheed Wallace (ditto); and go-to guy, forward Zach Randolph, who on Dec. 2, the day before the Wells trade, was charged with driving under the influence of "intoxicants," reportedly marijuana.

In one of their final touching moments together as Jail Blazers, Wallace and Wells were at practice when Wallace suddenly reared back and chucked a basketball at teammate Ruben Boumtje Boumtje, who was shooting jump shots with his back to them. According to The Oregonian the ball struck Boumtje Boumtje so hard he fell to the floor and lay writhing before eventually walking off. By then Wallace and Wells had run away, giggling like schoolgirls.

Beavis apparently misses Butt-heads; in Portland's first game following the trade, Wallace wore an armband bearing Bonzi's name. It was a singular gesture in Portland, whose citizenry would've paid for the plane ticket to get the Bonze out of town, preferably with Wallace sitting next to him.

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