Legendary Portland Trail Blazers’ radio play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely was laid to rest this past Friday, Feb. 10 at Willamette National Cemetery in Happy Valley, Oregon.
Journalist Kerry Eggers paid tribute to Schonely in chronicling his life, impact on the NBA, the Trail Blazers and the city of Portland, all of which were shared at Schonely’s memorial service. Eggers highlights the remarks of players and colleagues:
“Among [Geoff] Petrie’s remarks: ‘He was always game ready. When he put those headphones on, the game would come to life. … There was no load management for the Schonz. If he had a sore throat, suck on a lemon. … If the Blazers were playing poorly, talk about the opponent.’
Petrie also noted that Schonely, “Became the soul of the franchise.”
The memories were not without humor, as Petrie’s quotes revealed:
‘He loved wine, and had only two criteria: It had to be Chardonnay, and it had to be free,” Petrie said. “He always found a way to save his per diem on road trips. When he had a condo on Molokai, we called it the ‘Per Diem Ranch.’”
Petrie — the former 1971 NBA Rookie of the Year — spoke highly of Schonely’s professionalism, dedication and mastery of his craft. He was among the first players that Schonely had covered in his NBA tenure.
Alongside Petrie at the service were Trail Blazers greats Wally Walker, Jim Barnett, Lloyd Neal, Chris Dudley, and former NBA MVP Bill Walton.
“The Schonz,” as he was frequently called, served as play-by-play announcer in Portland from 1970 until his retirement in 1998. He was heralded for his presence as a fixture tied to the most memorable moments in Blazers’ history and for coining the term, “Rip City”.
Eggers not only went in great length pertaining to Schonely’s impact on the sidelines, but also took time to spotlight his loved ones, who all showed out and honored the memory of the late great. The article is worth a read for the touching tributes.