Blazer Nostalgia

All basketball related pieces now are posted at my basketball blog Buzzer Beater Banter

40 rip city

Articles like this piece by John Canzano on today make it really hard to be away from home right now. The NBA season starts soon and I haven’t missed an opening day in years. And right now, as I’m posting this, the Blazers are playing the Phoenix Suns in the pre-season, at Memorial Coliseum, as a special throw back the clock night in celebration of 40 years. Bill Schonely is doing the play by play. The team is wearing the Rip City throw back jerseys. All I can think about is running around the under belly of the Memorial Coliseum as a kid, tugging on the shorts of Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Mark Bryant, Ala Abdelnaby, Jerome Kersey, Kevin Duckworth and so many others… to have them graciously sign my program and toss me a smile as they walk out after a hard night on the court.

So, I have decided to pay the $149 for the Premium NBA International Online League Pass. I can watch all of the games On Demand for up to 48 hours and it has a DVR function allowing you to pause, rewind and fast forward. I look at it as a small price to pay to keep my sanity.

Here’s the Canzano article where he writes of the classic trumpets signaling the beginning of the broadcast, the memories we all have of watching the games with our friends and families as children, the heartache of blown opportunities in the 4th quarter… everything I always talk about.

40 YEARS rip city

The game is at Memorial Coliseum. Bill Schonely, the first play-by-play broadcaster in Trail Blazers history, will dust off his pipes and call some action. And the uniforms will be throwbacks. And the prices will be rolled back — tickets at $19.70.

What I’m saying is, you’re a kid again today.

Maybe you’ll think about watching Bill Walton and Maurice Lucas. Or maybe you’ll sift through a dresser drawer looking for an old ticket stub you saved. Or turn on the radio broadcast and hear those familiar trumpets and let them take you right back to your parents’ living room, or maybe your grandfather’s garage.

Maybe you’ll close your eyes and think you smell his cologne.

I know you will. You’ve told me for a better part of the last decade that thinking back about your professional basketball team does this to you.

Look. Portland takes a hit for being a small market. It gets called hokey because when Greg Oden comes to town, 5,000 of you show up at Pioneer Courthouse Square to greet him. Outsiders watched you jump around, singing and dancing during that Blazers rally last season — a celebration thrown not for winning an NBA title but for simply reaching the playoffs — and said you lacked urban polish and refinement.

They’re woefully unaware of what passion looks like in places like Portland.

When most fans in other cities see an NBA player walking down the street they approach, ask for an autograph or to take a photograph with them so they can post it on Facebook. But here, some of you saw newbie point guard Andre Miller in the mall and walked up, shook his hand, and said, “So glad you’re here.” You’re different like that.

Embrace it.

Especially today. Because the Blazers have given us all an opportunity to remember the past, and revisit a simpler time. And it feels like a place that gets bagged on as provincial should be better than others at revisiting and celebrating its past.

You’re a kid again today. You’re on the playground, bantering about tonight’s Blazers game. You’re knocking off school, and running the final few blocks home because it won’t be long before tipoff. You’re on the living room floor, posting up your little brother, telling him you’re Walton.

Today, for a few hours, don’t let yourself get weighed down by our country’s financial crisis, and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, and the regular American hassles of adult life. No job burdens. No neighbor issues. If only for one day, set it all down like it’s a bag of bricks and be a kid again.

Your big worry: Cotton candy or Cracker Jack?

Memorial Coliseum is an old backyard tree house today. Climb up the ladder again. Duck beneath the door. Run your fingers over the railings, and remember what it was like to hang from them when your legs would dangle.

Stand, and holler if you’re inside Memorial Coliseum. And if you’re not, gather your own children around the radio just before tipoff, and look into their hopeful eyes and explain what it was like to be just like them so many years before.

When those beautiful trumpets sound, tell your children what it reminds you about. Because someday, I have no doubt that they’ll gather their children and remember this team, with you.

Brandon Roy will be in uniform. So, too, will LaMarcus Aldridge, Steve Blake and Nic Batum. And it will be Nate McMillan, not Dr. Jack Ramsay, on the bench as coach.

But you know how the faces change, and how time rolls. And you understand the value in reconnecting with your past. You remember the thrilling victories, and the championship parade. But also, you remember what it was to start from scratch, and to rebuild.

You know the names, and dates. You remember where you were when they won it all, and when they blew a 15-point lead to the Lakers. You remember the butterflies, and the sting. And everything in between.

What I’m talking about now is Blazers history.

It’s yours.

Not just today. Always.

— John Canzano


~ by ripcitytoseoul on October 15, 2009.

2 Responses to “Blazer Nostalgia”

  1. Nice, so you’ll be able to watch championship level Lakers basketball! Oh, and watch Blazer games when the Lakers aren’t playing. LOL

  2. The game was really fun and we brought a radio to listen to Schonely call the 3rd. The place was packed, everything was black and red. You better believe I had my foam finger! There isn’t a bad seat in there. If it didn’t cost $17 for 2 beers it would have been perfect. Some douche had a “Fire Mike Rice” sign for most of the game. If he wasn’t all the way across the stadium, I would have taken him out. Everyone cheered for Channing. Miller is a sweet addition. Didn’t matter that we didn’t win, it was good to be back in b-ball mode!

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