Feb 26

My Blazer Memories: Bill Schonely

By blazerdarren77
 Who knew that a spontaneous expression would turn into a franchise identity? That's exactly what Bill Schonely (or as he known as The Schonz) did when he coined the phrase 'RIP CITY' in 1970 when the Trailblazers made their debut in the NBA. 42 years later, Rip City is STILL going strong in Portland. T-shirts and other paraphernalia continue to market the famous Blazer slogan (my boys and I even have Rip City tees) Many blazer fans on this web site call them RipCity(insert name)

  Growing up, I started listening to The Schonz the year after they won the championship. I would listen to the game with my dad. Whenever the Blazers were on TV, my dad would turn the volume all the way down (no mute buttons back then) so he could turn on the radio and listen to the Schonz. Back then, the TV and radio were in sync with one another. As I got older, I would check the sports page for the next Blazer game so I could listen to the game on radio. I tried to listen to every single Blazer game I possibly could. Granted, there were things that would prevent me from listening to every game (homework, family activities,etc.) but I wanted to be a part of every Blazer game. Growing up in Bend didn't allow me to go to an actual game. After all, a Blazer ticket was hard to get. So the listening to The Schonz was the next best thing for me.

  The Schonz was a big part of my life growing up. I really thought he would be their broadcaster for life the way Chick Hern was for the (>gag<, >ugh<, >puke<) Lakers. He did make the move to TV for a season, but he went back to radio where he felt comfortable calling Blazer games. Then the dreadful day came when the Blazer brass announced that The Schonz would no longer do the play-by-play for the Blazers. I thought, WHAT? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? You do NOT get rid of The Schonz! That was a sad day. I felt (and still feel this) that the Blazers made a mistake of letting him go. (as a side note, I love listening to Wheels; he' great for Blazer fans) How cool would have been to hear The Schonz call Brandon Roy's 30 foot buzzer beater against Houston? How fun would it be for him to interview the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum after posting career highs at the RG?

  Who could ever forget all the expressions of The Shonz? There were many of them and we all have our favorite Schonisms, as I call it. Here's a few of mine:


Even though he's not doing play-by-play anymore, The Schonz still is an ambassador to the Blazers. In fact, he IS Mr. Trailblazer. I was a huge fan of The Schonz growing up and I still am. Now that he is going to be inducted in the Basketball Hall of Fame as a recipient of the Curt Gowdy Award for broadcasting, I feel a sense of pride as a Blazer fan, much like the way I felt when the Blazers won the championship in 1977. The Schonz has had an impact on the national media as well. I remember those commercials in the 80s where I'd hear The Schonz say 'the NBA. It's faaantastic!' Colin Cowherd, a former sports reporter in Portland and now the host of The Herd on ESPN Radio, would greet the listeners with the phrase 'wherever you may be' (I've even heard Jim Rome coin that phrase from time to time) Yes The Schonz made an everlasting mark in the broadcast community and longtime Blazer fans as well. So Schonz, I just want to say, WHEREVER YOU MAY BE, thank you and RRRIP CITY!


  1. I love, love, love this blog Darren. As a kid I remember having the TV on mute and the radio up with my whole family piled into the living room for the game. Full couches, youngsters on the floors and yelling "RRIPPP CITTYY!" whenever the Schonz did. Fun times.

    by sarahhecht on 2/28/2012 11:36 AM
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