The Schonz Remembers: Trail Blazers Greatest Games
By sarahhecht Posted in: billschonely
Diving into the vast depth of Trail Blazers history is quite a daunting, and somewhat overwhelming, task. It’s the times when I find myself flipping through Blazermania and other archives in search of incredible moments—mind spinning of course—that I’m most thankful for the wealth of knowledge and memories held by two Trail Blazers employees: Bill Schonely and Chuck Charnquist.
It was Charnquist who—in one of my moments of historical delirium—handed me an excerpt from a 1998 Rip City Magazine. The article was simply titled “Schonz Remembers: The Greatest Games.” After reading the article I knew it was too good not to share. And we had to have clips of these moments somewhere!!
I was right.
Below you’ll find excerpts from the incredible article written by the Schonz. His reflections on some of his fondest memories as the first broadcaster for the Portland Trail Blazers are one-of-a-kind. Enjoy, I certainly did.
Excerpts from Rip City Magazine:
Schonz Remembers: The Greatest Games
In my 28 years as the voice of the Trail Blazers, I’ve seen some strange, exciting and zany things, both on and off the court. Last month, as I prepared to broadcast the play-by-play of my 2,300th NBA game, Rip City Magazine asked me to jot down the games and events that I’ll never forget.
Here are a few memorable dates for the Schonz:
Jan. 3, 1978: Blazers 92, Bulls 90
I tried to keep my tongue from getting tied when the Blazers scored six points in the last 13 seconds to beat the Chicago Bulls in a miracle finish. Down by four, Maurice Lucas hit a jumper to cut Chicago’s lead to 90-88. In the next nine seconds, Portland stole Chicago’s two inbounds passes, thanks to the defensive heroics of Bobby Gross and Dave Twardzik, and Lionel Hollins scored twice to steal the game.
The image that I will cherish most, though, is that of Lloyd Neal, who wasn’t even in the game at the time. When Hollins hit the game-winner, Neal was jumping up and down like a human yo-yo, bad knees and all. The victory gave the Blazers a 29-5 record and a sense on invincibility.
Dec. 30, 1980: Blazers 109, Sixers 108
At courtside in Memorial Coliseum, I was screaming into the microphone in order to be heard above the roars when Billy Ray Bates scored on an alley-oop with one second left to beat the Sixers. As Kermit Washington prepared to throw the ball in play for the final second, many Blazers fans were heading for the exit. He just tossed it toward the hoop (Portland’s version of a Hail Mary) and the 6-5 Bates soared over giants to slam in down. Our own Immaculate Reception!
Feb. 21, 1976: Blazers 116, Kings 97
Portland players were greeted in the morning to a typical Midwest blizzard. We all waited at O’Hare Airport for a flight to Kansas City for a game that night. As the hours went by, players were pretty restless in the airport. Planes to take them to K.C. kept getting cancelled. Finally, with almost no time to spare, we boarded a flight that made stops in Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska. When we hit Missouri, the Kings met us at the airport with a bus and a police motorcycle escort. Only one problem: The Blazers uniforms got off the plane in Des Moines.
So the team dressed in Kansas City road uniforms. The Blazers took the court against the Kings looking, shall we say, worse for the wear. Portland’s uniforms finally arrived at halftime and, like Clark Kent in a phone booth, the Blazers changed into their scarlet and black and proceeded to blow out the Kings.
May 19, 1990: Blazers 108, San Antonio 105
Many lasting memories are generated simply by the fans’ reactions. I’ll never forget the way Blazers fans greeted Kevin Duckworth when they saw him walk onto the court for the seventh game of the 1990 Western Conference semi-finals series against San Antonio. This series was a real struggle for the Blazers as Duckworh had missed the first six games with a broken finger. His courageous decision to come out and play was reminiscent of Willis Reed’s heroic appearance in the Knicks-Lakers championship 20 years earlier. It brought tears to my eyes.
Dec. 28, 1976: Blazers 84, Bulls 79
Sometimes a single image at the end of a game tells the story of a season. On this evening, the Blazers defeated a very physical Bulls team in Chicago, 84-79. Until that game, Portland’s world-champions-to-be struggled on the road, winning only four of their first road games.
When this one ended, Bill Walton, sensing that his team had turned a corner, tossed the NBA basketball deep into the stands, a souvenir for some lucky fan. Walton’s victory explosion, though, proved a bit costly. A week later, Portland president Harry Glickman got a bill from the Bulls for the ball.