So I was in 6th grade in 1990, excited to see that the Portland Trailblazers were coming back as contenders for the crown, but in my eyes, the greatest blazer players ever were coming right in to my backyard that very next week. The Blazers Alumni team was a squad put together of former blazer greats, who would go around playing charity games and doing school functions/fundraisers, etc. Well, somehow our school got the chance to play in a fundraising game where 5 staff members and 7 students from the 6th grade basketball team would be selected to play against them!
The school held a drawing during one of our assemblies in the gym. They placed all the player's names from the 6th grade team into a bucket and drew out 7 names from the 15. I was number 5!!!
That weekend came and the game was held at the Junior High School so we could have a bigger gym with proper bleachers for the crowd. We took the court for warm ups and I will never forget seeing the blazer players come through the doors for the first time. I had never seen anyone so large and powerful in my life. I mean, it is one thing to be a high schooler or college level player against these guys, but I was a 4' something 6th grader! How was I going to even stand a chance guarding these giants? So warm ups are over with and we pick the starting 5, consisting of our school's principal, the 5th grade teacher, and 3 of the student players including myself. We walk out on to the court and the blazer players start pointing at which one of us they are going to guard. I look across the court and this huge mustached guy is pointing saying I got the skinny tall kid. All I could think was, "Holy crap, did Maurice Lucas just call me out as a target!?!" Yes. Yes he did.
Keep in mind as a young boy, all I knew about this guy was the legends and stories I grew up on about this championship player. I had heard that he was the toughest man to play in the NBA. They called him the enforcer! He was known for getting in a huge fight right in the middle of a game and knocking some guy about his size down cold. And this was the man who was pointing at me and calling me the skinny kid. Gulp.
Obviously the blazers played this game more like a globetrotter's game, having fun and showing off. I will never forget though, when the ball did come my way one time, I tried to drive the lane and put up a layup, but Lucas wasn't going to have that. He straight grabbed me in a bear hug, picked me up and said, "Nope. You don't get two points on me that easy son." and he carried me over to the free throw line where he firmly plopped me down to take my two shots, ha ha! (The first of which I air balled I was so nervous). We ended up losing the game by two points, but to this day, it was and always will be a win in my mind. From that day on I was a die hard, bleeding black and red, Trailblazer Fan.
I was really sad to hear when he passed, and wished I could have said more to him that day we played together, but even though it was brief, and only a game, it changed my entire perspective about pro athletes, and brought me closer to the organization that would become my passion in sports for years to come. Thank you Blazer Alumni team, and thank you Mo Lucas!
Did anybody else have any cool experiences with this awesome team of alumni?