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SI Profiles the Origin of "Rip City"

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Joel Gunderson of The Cauldron profiled Jim Barnett, Bill Schonely, and the origin of "Rip City".

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

Joel Gunderson of The Cauldron gave basketball fans insight into the origin of the Portland Trail Blazers' calling card: "Rip City".

For those unaware, the moniker came in 1970 when the Blazers stormed back from a 22-point deficit against the Los Angeles Lakers. Within three, guard Jim Barnett (now the color analyst for the Golden State Warriors) hit a shot from past half court. Legendary Blazers announcer Bill Schonely uttered "Rip City, alright!" in jubilation, and it stuck.

Still, even Schonely acknowledges that, while he was the one who first uttered the words, it quickly became a kind of shared gestalt — something both borne from, and attuned to, the passion of a fan base.

"Year after year, the phrase became synonymous with not only the broadcast, but the team," he says. "Now the organization has even gone [to Rip City Management], and it’s just phenomenal."

Earliest known recording of the "Rip City!" call:

Schonely's successor, Brian Wheeler, did not want to use the phrase, saying it was Schonely's. But it has become synonymous with the team, and the city, ever since.

When people started asking about how he intended to approach the booth’s most famous phrase, Wheeler knew he was stepping into a uniquely delicate situation.

“I would tell them ‘No, I don’t want to come off as a carbon copy,’” Wheeler says. “That’s his signature saying. Maybe in time I’ll have my own, but it just wouldn’t sound right. That’s his.”

The rest of the article can be found at SI.com.  Credit to Dan Graves for his DanShot.