When it comes to stalwarts from the 1977 NBA Championship team, Lloyd Neal seldom gets mentioned. Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, and Lionel Hollins get most of the publicity. People forget that Neal played for seven seasons with the Trail Blazers before injuries cut short his career.
This week John Canzano interviewed Neal about his memories from the 1970’s, including teammate Maurice Lucas and Coach Jack Ramsay. The interview is available via soundcloud.
When asked what he thought of Portland after being drafted there, Neal replied, “I had to look it up in the beginning. I thought, ‘Where is Portland?’”
Around the 8:00 mark, Neal starts talking about the Championship squad in earnest. Canzano asked how early in the season Neal knew they could win it all. Neal offered:
Once we got into the playoffs, we had never made the playoffs in the seven-year history. Once we got into the playoffs and started advancing, our first competitor was the Chicago Bulls. They were playing really, really good at that point in time. That was a tough series...
...After we started advancing and seeing how things progressed, I said, “You know, we could possibly win this thing.”
Neal goes on to describe Ramsay as a “fundamentals coach”, claiming, “The game was easy. The practices were hard!”
For any fan of old-school Blazers basketball, the interview is wonderfully enlightening.