Welcome to the refreshed Blazer’s Edge! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card. SBNation is collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
Instead of picking one Blazer’s Edge staffer to represent the site, we’ve decided to use this network-wide theme to allow you to get to know our entire staff better. Earlier this morning we shared stories from half of the staff, describing how they first came to follow the team. Now we introduce you to the other half. Enjoy the stories of Blazer’s Edge writers old and new!
Update: We unintentionally left out Peter Sampson’s story this morning, so here you go!
I’ll never forget my first Trail Blazers experience. It was early in the 1984 and I was all of 6 years old. My grandparents were season-ticket holders and I was finally old enough to go to a game with them - not to mention stay up late, which was just as exciting to me at the time.
I’ll never forget walking up to the Memorial Coliseum and just how massive it seemed. Funny, considering what a tiny little bandbox of an arena it actually is. But that night, it was the biggest building in the world. Last year, when I took my toddler to see Sesame Street Live in the same building, I saw his eyes light up in the same way as we approached the arena, and it took me right back to that night.
I couldn’t tell you anything about the game, other than two things, which oddly enough are what secured my Trail Blazers fandom. First, I thought the name Kiki Vandeweghe was hilarious. I suppose I still do. Second, and much more impactful, was what happened before the game in the concourse.
My grandpa bought me a big tub of popcorn to snack on during the game, and to six year old me, this was the highlight of the evening. My grandpa scooped me up with one arm and collected the popcorn in his other. Knowing how excited I was, he handed it to me so I could hold my new prize. Immediately, I dropped it. Right in front of the concession stand. I immediately burst into tears; I grew up without a lot of money and if something was spilled or broken, it was gone. There were no replacements.
I was too young to realize that my grandpa probably would have just bought me another one, but what happened next made me a fan for life. The concession worker, an older gentleman who had probably seen this happen time and time again, immediately told me everything was ok and scooped up a free replacement. The way he handed it directly to me was so kind - I can still see it. From that moment on, throughout all of the team changes, watching the Blazers has been part of my life.
I grew up in Wisconsin as a nominal Bucks fans, but due to being 80 miles away from Milwaukee, utter lack of interest from the rest of my family and the rarity of games on TV, I was really more of a fan of college and high school basketball. After moving to the Portland area as an adult, the Blazers became a pleasant distraction. I'd often listen to Brian Wheeler call Blazer games on the radio while doing the dishes or yard work.
It was when my son came along though that I really became a fan. He discovered the Blazers from an early age and he couldn't get enough of them. Raising a boy can be tough, with lots of mostly silent car rides to sports practice or shopping or wherever we needed to go. I found though that if I brought up the Blazers for conversation I'd have his full attention and the time would fly by. I started to hang out on Blazer's Edge, learning more about the team, NBA plays and strategy and why the Blazers were winning or losing. I'd share my new-found knowledge with my son and our conversations about the Blazers became longer and more detailed. We started watching games together on TV and sometimes we'd go down to Moda Center to see games in person. It wasn't too long before I became nearly as a big a fan as my son.
Being a fan of the Blazers is great, but sharing a love of the Blazers with my son is very special to me.
I moved to Eugene in 1987 to go to school at University of Oregon. At that time, there wasn’t a lot for Duck fans to cheer about. Bill Musgrave tried to pull the football team out of mediocrity. He got us to a bowl game! And the basketball team? The closest I got to greatness was that one of the members of the original Tall Firs was a regular at the restaurant where I worked.
So in Eugene in the early ‘90s we watched the Blazers. At the time, I was more interested in the players than the game itself. I loved Clyde and Terry’s chemistry, Buck’s intensity and Kevin Duckworth’s startling grace. How did such a big man have such a soft touch? Jerome was FUNNY, he made me laugh the way he’d walk back and forth behind someone while they were being interviewed post game, mugging for the camera even though he was supposed to be in the background.
At the time, I didn’t understand the nuances of the game that well, so I enjoyed the human interest stories. I soaked up everything Ann Schatz and Monica Spoelstra did. Bill Schonley and Snapper Jones made the game come to life. And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the great Z100 hits. I don’t care what anybody says, Rip City Rhapsody made me love the Trail Blazers, don’t @ me.
My first exposure to the Trail Blazers was in my early childhood. I’m not sure I could even pin down how old I was. In our household, it was fairly routine to watch Blazer games in the evening and pour breakfast out of a Clyde Drexler Wheaties box the next morning. As my parents now clean out the house in preparation to sell, a couple decades later, it has become apparent just how much memorabilia was collected through the years.
Anyway, we had one of those little Fisher-Price basketball hoops in the backyard that my big brother and I played on with a nerf ball. Dad dubbed him Drexler and me Terry Porter. Those labels stuck until I got my first jersey—Arvydas Sabonis—when I was a little older, though, admittedly, I was particularly short as a kid and my patented hook shot could be generously termed “ineffective.”
My fandom tailed off a bit during the “Jail Blazers” era, but I still followed Portland’s wheelings and dealings in my teen years. Like many others, my appreciation for the team was later revived by Brandon Roy in the mid-2000’s. These days, I’m less of a Trail Blazers fan and more of a general NBA fan. I pull for them to win more often than not, but I find that a little impartiality helps me be objective in my work. Plus, I feel sheepish talking with Damian Lillard while wearing his shoes.
My heart wasn’t always shaped like a pinwheel. As a young Portlander, I was a victim of the stars. Steve Nash and his flashy pass Suns drew me in. Tracy McGrady and his 13 points in 33 seconds had me wearing gaudy Rockets gear to school. The Trail Blazers were a black and red afterthought. But then the Atlanta Hawks came into the Rose Garden in 2008. From the Lexus Club Level, I watched a resilient Blazers crew fight back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit and win the game by one point. I was fired up. I was impassioned by what I had just seen. From that moment on, no other team mattered to me. I promptly gave away my new LeBron t-shirt and Paul Pierce tank-top. To replace them, I invested in a Greg Oden jersey. That was poor judgment on my part.
Ryan A. Sterling
I actually didn’t grow up a Blazers fan. Chicago is my home, and I got to watch the Michael Jordan led Bulls team win six titles. But they never felt like my team. I started watching when they were unstoppable. It didn’t feel right to say my team won those titles when I never knew anything else. I eventually became a Clippers fan after seeing how miserable the franchise was doing, and sharing that experience as a lifelong Cubs fan.
Even after moving to the Pacific Northwest, I only really started following the team when I started writing for OSN, and eventually here at Blazer’s Edge. Now the Blazers are my favorite team, and all of that has been the readers here and the fans at the arena. The passion and energy and enthusiasm that the Portland fans have for their only team in the four major sports is unrivaled anywhere else in the league. Thank you to everyone who reads on this site.
It was a perfect storm of being young, finding joy in the game of basketball with friends on the driveway, and witnessing the rise of the Portland Trail Blazers during the 1989-’90 season. I remember like it was yesterday watching the Blazers beat the Phoenix Suns in the Western Conference Finals, the euphoric joy of seeing the team collapse on each other in celebration. It was the first time I felt pure elation watching a team win.
The vibe in and around the city those following years when the Blazers were title contenders is something I have rarely felt since. Their was this kinetic energy rippling through the city that was amplified every game day, from the first game of the pre-season to the last, heartbreaking moments of the playoffs.
Those memories and emotions from my youth are why I’ll always be a Blazers fan. Someday, I hope this team can bring that energy and joy back to the city. How does next season, sound?
My Blazer fandom is a probably one of the more inexplicable ones out there. Born and raised in Southern California during the heyday of the Los Angeles sports, I became enamored with the USC Trojans, Wayne Gretzky’s Los Angeles Kings, Kirk Gibson’s Los Angeles Dodgers, and Clyde Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers. Wait. What? Surrounded by the glitz and glam of LA and the Showtime Lakers, somehow, I became a Trail Blazers fan. More aptly, and Drexler fan. Whether it was pure coincidence or the Basketball Gods’ ordainment, I turned on the TV one morning and there he was- Clyde the Glide. My parents bought me a shirt that read “I want to be like
Mike Clyde,” clearly the height of rebelliousness for any child.
Keep in mind, I was still in Southern California all this time, spurning not only Magic Johnson and the Showtime Lakers, but basketball royalty in Michael Jordan, all because I happened to turn on the TV one morning and catch a glimpse of what was at that point the greatest sporting event I’d ever seen. Lo an behold, my family would move to the Portland area a few years later. Time after time while out with my family we would run into my heroes; Buck Williams at Chuck E. Cheese, Kevin Duckworth out camping, Clyde Drexler at Benihana, Jerome Kersey at the park. All of them taking the time to sign an autograph, or take a picture, or just sit down and talk with all of us - sometimes for hours. This only affirmed my love and adoration for my adopted team, moving them further into my heart.
Clyde Drexler will always be my first basketball love, but Brandon Roy will forever be my greatest. That’s not to say I don’t love this current team, and that Damian Lillard can’t become the greatest Blazer ever. In fact, I hope they do. I hope there’s some kid somewhere that gets to experience the same kind of feeling I did. Turning on his or her TV, iPad, cellphone, whatever and instantly being mesmerized by the transcendent play of Lillard and becoming a fan for life.
December 30, 1980. The Blazers were in their championship hangover, with fans looking for any signs of hope. And they got it, in the form of Billy Ray Bates. Bates was the least likely of heroes, rocketing out of the minor leagues to take the NBA by storm. With that hope in hand, the city watched Blazers played the team they beat in June three years prior, the Philadelphia 76ers. And Portland held their own! But with just 1 second remaining, Julius Erving drew a foul, to the groans of the crowd. He hit 2 free throws to pull the Sixers ahead by 1. If that wasn’t enough, Portland was now required to inbound the ball from half court. The official handed the ball to Kermit Washington, and the fans (including Timmay, watching at home) were hoping for a miracle. They got it.
As a young Blazer fan, it was my first truly visceral experience. An experience that reminded you that all hope wasn't lost, even as things looked nearly impossible. And that Bates dude? Totally amazing. It's not an accident that I chose him in the All-Time Blazer Draft. For one night, anything could happen, and this team could make you jump and scream.
Thanks to all our staffers who shared stories! Don’t forget to create your Fanposts for the contest (it’d be cool to see a Blazer’s Edge reader win that) and/or share your own thoughts in the comment section!
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