This blog entry was partly inspired by a recent post by one of our collective favorite Blazer fans, Kassandra, in addition to a little push by a certain member of the Blazers online team. You can read Kassandra's post here.
Blazer Memories: old and new
By Anees Posted in: 1995, 90s, blazerdancers, Blazers, buckwilliams, drexler, duckworth, family, Jazz, kersey, memorialcoliseum, porter, rosegarden, uncle
As far back as I can remember to my childhood (the early 90's), I always watched Blazer games with my uncle Ezra as his house was a short drive away from mine in the NW Portland area, making it easy for us to meet and watch the games. Back then, he had what we would consider a big-screen TV as well as having BlazerCable (anyone remember that?); this was in the days before widescreen/plasma/flat-screen TV's, HD and other technology. The one obstacle we faced was that the younger of his two daughters, who was 3 years younger than me, had to get to sleep relatively early for school, as many games were doing the week of course. Naturally, as fans, we get excited or frustrated at certain points in the game, so we had to keep the volume down; whether it was slapping high 5's or cheering loudly when something positive happened or in my uncle's case, it was stamping his feet on the ground with a turnover or curcial missed shot. It was especially heart-breaking when it was a Sunday night game - because if we lost, it only made our mutual 'Sunday blues' that much worse - school/work the next day was bad enough, but a Blazers loss too? That is a bad start to the week if you ask me!
As the years passed, we saw many ups and downs, players (and coaches) come and go, witnessed some special playoff runs on the way - just as many of you long-time fans did. Yet, the one thing that remained constant was that my uncle and I would always discuss the games at the next family gathering (I have lots of extended family in Portland). Additionally, another uncle of mine, along with some of his colleagues (yes, doctors too) had bought court-side seats, which would rotate between respective families throughout those prime years of my younger days, so myself and my cousins, who are also big fans, would get to go to games, as we had 3 seats. Of course, since there were more than three of us, we would have our own 'internal' rotation and try to be fair when it came to who could go to the next game we had tickets for.
When the team was still playing in the good old Memorial Coliseum, our seats was adjacent to the opposing teams bench, so that wasn't too fun, from our point of view. We wanted to be near our own guys as we watched them on the court. In later years, if I recall correctly, the benches were changed and we were then right next to our Blazers. As you can imagine, lots of nice memories and moments to take home after a game - small conversations with guys on the bench and yes, back then, the lovely Blazer dancers used to sit just a few feet in front of us. One of my cousins actually went to college (PSU) with one or two of them, so he would always say hello and generally introduce us - that was nice.
Other fond memories I have was a time when my uncle Ezra's younger daughter was asked by one of the Blazers if she would share her ice cream with him! Also, as we made the exciting transition to the Rose Garden in 1995, I remember seeing Mr. Allen and his party walking past us, at the end of games and trying to see if he had any famous guests accompanying him to the game that night.
Sadly, in the late 90's, my uncle decided to cancel his tickets, so after that, the days of having court-side seats had come to an end (I have saved have many of those tickets
)Yet, me and my cousins still remained fans, still going to games in other great (and less expensive!) seats when we could; of course, as we grew older, some of the older cousins were no longer living in Portland full time, as college or work took them away for much of the year. While attending games became a bit more sporadic, with the occasional tickets showing up, via a gift from a patient of my uncle's or making a plan when some of us were in town - we still cheered our team on - I would still sit down in front of the TV with my uncle Ezra, regardless if anyone else was interesting in the game or not, and add to our long list of Blazer-related memories. During my high school years, my studies even suffered, as I would want to watch the entire game, even if all my home-work wasn't complete - that's how much I wanted to watch my Blazers.
Fortunately, I stayed in Portland for college (Reed), so I was still able to attend games now and then, mostly during the time off, especially in the winter, as we got an entire month break at that time of year.
The biggest change came when I made the decision, in 2005, to attend medical school in Prague, which would be over a six year period and outside of a couple of weeks during winter, would prevent me from watching games and limiting me to highlights in the morning, just a few hours after the game had ended, as I ate my breakfast. So as you can imagine, I hadn't been to a game in years - until this past December.
Last summer, my cousins and I decided that we really wanted to go to a game, especially after we had attended Brian Grant's Gala (see my previous, brief blog post and photo albums), where we once again, got to meet our favorites from those 90's teams up close and personal. So we got 5 tickets for the Dec. 30 vs. the Jazz. It felt so wonderful, just from being in the parking garage, to entering the concourse, and finally making eye-contact with the court in person after such a long time . . . .and not only that, but I was accompanied by my uncle Ezra and both his daughters (who are practically sisters to me) and one other family member, but who wasn't from Portland or even American by birth, though he is currently studying in the US. Which country is he from you ask? Believer it or not, he's from Pakistan. :-) The family member in question was the son of one of my elder cousins, who was visiting during his winter break, of course, as it was too expensive to fly home for a relatively short time, so as in past recent years, he had come to Portland for a few weeks. Before the game, I added something to my personal Blazer collection that was long overdue - a Blazers jersey. Yes, my first every Blazers jersey after all these years cheering the red, black and white. It was a white #88 - I guess you could say it is the influence Europe has had on me! :-P Don't worry, I'll post a picture with it somewhere in this beautiufl city before I leave fore good later this year.
As you know, we won that night and it brought back so many memories of being at the game with my uncle - and since our 5 seats were in two different but neighboring sections (3 and 2 split), my uncle wanted to make sure we didn't move, so we could still have our discussions as the game went on, discussing stats and the like. At the same time, we also made new memories that night along with our family's newest Blazer fan (yes, he loved being at the game); our lives had changed dramatically since those early years, yet the one thing that I felt had not changed or actually increased, was the love we had for each other - as well as the common love in all our lives - our Blazers.
-Anees, from Prague
I want to take the opportunity to also say that in the last year or so, this increased love for the Blazers, for me personally, has been enhanced by the wonderful community I've found here on IAMA and just want to say thank you to a few individuals: Dustin Hawes, Kassandra, Hg, and Sarah Hecht. There are others of course, that I've interacted with in the various chats, but these few have shown much-appreciated online love & support, thus the special mentions.