Whether it was outplaying Bill Walton during a Loyola v. UCLA contest or Bob McAdoo’s contract demands or some combination of the two that resulted in C LaRue Martin becoming Portland’s choice for the no. 1 overall pick in the 1972 NBA Draft, Martin has long been reminded that he was selected ahead of McAdoo and Julius Erving. Memories of his underwhelming tenure with the Blazers are brought to the forefront with the HBO “Real Sports” segment, “The Big Bust”, previewed in Tuesday’s Portland Tribune by Kerry Eggers.

“In the short term, we’d have been way better off with McAdoo, a Hall-of-Famer,” (Portland executive VP) Harry Glickman said. “In the long term, we never would have gotten Walton, and we might not have won a championship (in 1976-77). Funny how things work out sometimes.”

Gumbel read a local newspaper account at the time, which called Martin “an emotional basket case over his own inability to prove his worth as the No. 1 draft choice.”

Martin says he rejected several offers to play professionally in Europe. He returned to Portland after his release by the Sonics, told Gumbel his failure in the NBA “took away a lot of the self-esteem I had. I had the makings of an ulcer. I’d go home crying sometimes. Here I am, a grown man, crying.”

He was at his Portland home drinking the night the Blazers clinched the NBA title with a Game-6 victory over Philadelphia at the Coliseum.

“I was crushed,” Martin told Gumbel. “Oh boy, that hurt.”

Though Eggers takes pains to point out (as does the HBO piece) that Martin has long since fashioned a successful career with United Parcel Service, he also eager to point out that while “Blazer fans remember Sam Bowie’s selection over Michael Jordan in 1984 with unbridled disdain, for historical perspective, Martin over Bob McAdoo was probably worse.”