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Blazers Executive Bucky Buckwalter Elected To Oregon Sports Hall Of Fame

Back in August, we noted that former Portland Trail Blazers exectuive Bucky Buckwalter is set to be inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall Of Fame on Wednesday night.

Joe Freeman of The Oregonian offers a profile.

But when Bucky Buckwalter looks back on his accomplished career in basketball - one that will include his induction into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday - he is most proud of being a pioneer in bridging the international basketball gap and bringing European players to the NBA. 

"There was a time when nobody was willing to take the gamble, nobody was serious about drafting foreign players," said Buckwalter, who grew up in La Grande. "People said it was a throwaway, a waste of a first-round pick. But I didn't think it was a waste."    

Matt Calkins of The Columbian takes a look.

The Blazers reached the NBA Finals the next season, finished with the league's best record the year after that, and went back to the Finals in 1992.

"The thing that allowed us to be that good was that final acquisition - trading Bowie for Buck," said Buckwalter, who earned NBA Executive of the Year in 1991 and retired from the Blazers in 1997. "Buck was a very focused, terrific guy in the locker room. I think he made many of the players around him better."

Casey Holdahl of offers a long biography.

As a young boy growing up in La Grande, OR, Morris "Bucky" Buckwalter had hopes that basketball would take him somewhere. He'd spend hours shooting on a hoop made out of timber with a rim that occasionally had to be bent back into shape. His father, a salesman for the Utah Woolen Mills who attended the University of Utah and gained an appreciation for the game by watching the Utes, instructed Bucky and his brothers on the finer points of a game invented by Dr. James Naismith roughly 60 years prior.

"He was the first one who took me out, tutored me," said Buckwalter. "He showed me how to shoot. We spent a lot of hours developing a shot. About half the time it would get dark before we quit. It was a lot of fun learning to do that along with my brothers and friends in the neighborhood."

Click through for a press release sent by the team with more information and quotes from current president Larry Miller.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter

Morris "Bucky" Buckwalter, longtime Portland Trail Blazers front office executive and coach, will be inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame tonight. 

A 22-year veteran of the organization from 1976-97, Buckwalter is credited as one of the major architects of the teams that made two trips to the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, while compiling a 179-75 record from 1989-92. He served as the team's Vice President of Basketball Operations for seven seasons from 1986-92 and was named the Sporting News Basketball Executive of the Year in 1991. 

"It's a terrific honor to be associated with the list of names being inducted into the hall," said Buckwalter. "We accomplished a great deal of what we set out to do with the Trail Blazers and I think the style of play and kind of players we had during my time there was something the community really identified with, which is very gratifying." 

During Buckwalter's tenure, the Trail Blazers drafted Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey and Cliff Robinson while trading for Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth and Danny Ainge to bring Portland to the brink of another title and energize Rip City during one of the most popular eras of Trail Blazers basketball. 

"Bucky put together some of the best teams this city has ever seen, and this is an honor well deserved," said Trail Blazers President Larry Miller. "Congratulations to Bucky and his family for putting their stamp on this organization and helping make Rip City what it is today." 

An NBA pioneer in evaluating European talent, Buckwalter stunned the basketball world in 1986 by drafting future Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame members Arvydas Sabonis from the Soviet Union and Drazen Petrovic from Yugoslavia. 

"It was Stu Inman who brought Bucky on board to the Trail Blazers," said Trail Blazers Founder and President Emeritus Harry Glickman. "The first thing Stu told me is when Bucky talks, I listen. And I listened to him ever since." 

The head coach of the Brazilian National Team that upset the Soviets in 1975, Buckwalter served as an assistant coach and head coach in the NBA and ABA during the 1970s with Seattle and Utah, respectively, before joining the Trail Blazers in 1976 as a college scout. He also served as an assistant coach with the Trail Blazers from 1980-86. 

A native of La Grande, Ore., Buckwalter played collegiate basketball at Utah, where he was an all-conference player in each of his final two seasons with the Utes. 

Buckwalter joins Tom Trebelhorn, Clive Davies, Kelly Blair-LaBounty, Les Gutches and Rich Brooks as 2011 Oregon Sports Hall of Fame inductees. A reception at the Multnomah Athletic Club will start at 5:30 p.m., tonight, followed by a dinner and program at 7 p.m., emceed by Trail Blazers founding broadcaster Bill Schonely.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter