In my childhood home, the voice of Kevin Calabro on the call for the Seattle SuperSonics was familiar and comforting. Even now, listening to him work for the Portland Trail Blazers, I’m swept back to sitting on the floor in front of our small television in the living room, the one with the push buttons, watching basketball with my dad on the sofa behind me.
I grew up watching basketball, playing basketball, loving basketball. My dad played in college and went on to coach at a local high school for a while, so hoops were always part of life. After his coaching days were done, Dad always volunteered for game duty at the local high school, and he would take me along with him. In our little town north of Seattle, girls’ basketball dominated in the early 90s, and along with that came special opportunities, like the team getting to play at Key Arena ahead of a Sonics game. Those were the first — and unfortunately only — Sonics games I got to attend. Driving all that way just wasn’t practical, so we tuned in at home.
The 90s were a great time for basketball in the Pacific Northwest, no doubt about it, between both the Sonics and the Trail Blazers. I loved watching Gary Payton play alongside Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf. The German power forward will always have a special place in my heart, and no, it wasn’t the haircut. Rather, it was that he had adopted Seattle as his home, and I loved that. What I didn’t like was seeing Seattle get bounced out of the playoffs year after year.
In the midst of this, my family relocated from Northwest Washington to the suburbs of Portland. I still remember wearing my Sonics gear to school and getting made fun of because I wasn’t a Trail Blazers fan. My classmates usually laid off once they found out that I wasn’t just some weird bandwagoner after the Sonics made it to the Finals in 1996. But given the level of love folks felt for the Blazers, I started to wonder about my own allegiance, especially as the Sonics entered a new era.
I went on to college at Oregon State, the alma mater of Gary Payton, which was literally all I knew about it before I visited. College sports and the fun associated with going to the games as a student filled my days, and the NBA took a backseat for quite a while. Looking back, that might have been a good thing, as both the Blazers and the Sonics weren’t much to talk about if you strictly wanted to discuss the on-court product.
What brought me back is quite simple: Brandon Roy.
The team that I had known and loved through childhood moved to Oklahoma City (insert unkind words about Kevin Durant here). The Blazers were no longer the Jail Blazers. They had made a real, true turnaround, and while we can discuss the long-term implications of the 2007 NBA Draft until the cows come home, the selection of Brandon Roy in the 2006 draft is what ultimately led me back to basketball and to the Trail Blazers.
My now-husband and I didn’t have cable TV at the time, so I’d have to watch games on the antenna when they were on KGW. Mike and Mike added a certain spice to watching Blazers games, but it was the joy of watching Brandon Roy that got me hooked into following the Blazers and turned me into a fan. I’ve never regretted joining Rip City.
When the games stopped airing on KGW, we broke down and got cable so I could watch basketball, and our house became known as the place to come and watch a game. Brandon Roy’s era gave way to the Damian Lillard era. One friend and I would text back and forth about the various Mike Rice-isms throughout the game; another would text me about whatever suit Robin Lopez had worn that night if we weren’t watching the game together. That 2014 run was magical.
I took a break after the 2014 season as the team I’d known and loved then was no more. I wondered if I’d ever get back into basketball. I told my tale of woe regarding Blazers basketball to my friend Joey in fall of 2017, who pointed out that I should be watching Zach Collins. And boy, was he right. And my interest in Zach Collins led me all the way to:
Rip City Twitter.
For those of you who are not part of Rip City Twitter: it is a magical place. A wonderful place. I have made three of my best friends due to Rip City Twitter. It led me to my work here at Blazer’s Edge. It has introduced me to countless people and opportunities. Basketball Twitter (let’s be honest: sports Twitter) can have a toxic edge at times, but in general, Rip City Twitter is supportive and fun.
And, as I said, it brought me here. I still get a thrill every time someone mentions that they’ve read something I wrote. My dad likes to brag about it (dads gonna dad, even when you’re almost 40). I’m hoping my Uncle Gary sees this. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to help folks create their own Blazer memories. In 2019, I took a group of high school students to Blazer’s Edge Night. They loved it — right up until Jusuf Nurkic broke his leg.
I’ll be forever grateful to Brandon Roy, Damian Lillard, and well, Zach Collins, strangely (I contend that if you know my favorite Sonic was Detlef Schrempf, the love for Zach makes sense) for keeping me interested and engaged with the Trail Blazers. While this last season has been hard in a lot of ways, I’m interested to see where this new chapter takes the team. Damian Lillard is always fun to watch, no matter what else is going on.
And even now that I’m much older, I still love hearing Kevin Calabro on the call.