Memories never fade for Petrie
By Max Mandel Posted in: geoffpetrie
When the Sacramento Kings face the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at the Rose Garden, it will be a unique experience for Geoff Petrie. Petrie, who is the President of Basketball Operations for the Kings, was a member of the inaugural Portland Trail Blazers team and won the NBA Rookie of the Year in the 1970-1971 season. Petrie has been linked with the Trail Blazers franchise for much of his professional career, and he clearly has some great memories from his time in Portland as a player.
"It was really exciting for me personally and I think for the whole city," Petrie said of the inaugural season in Portland. "I was a rookie and it was a brand new team. Of the three expansion teams that year, which were Cleveland, Buffalo, and Portland, the consensus was that we would have the worst team."
In their inaugural season, the Trail Blazers not only faced competition from other sports teams in town, but also had to deal with some confusion from East Coast fans.
"Nobody even really knew where Portland, Oregon was," Petrie said with a laugh. "If you said you were from Portland, people thought you were talking about Portland, Maine. It was a great experience just being part of getting the franchise started and all the little things we did out in the community. At that time the hockey team, the Buckaroos, were really popular."
Despite very little expectations, Petrie and the Trail Blazers were able to capture the attention of the city with their performance.
"We came in and did better than what the expectations were, and that really helped to get the franchise off to a good start."
After beginning his career in Portland as a player, Petrie returned to the organization and worked in multiple positions for the Trail Blazers. With this type of connection, Petrie has seen the organization grow right before his eyes.
"I spent 18 years with the Trail Blazers, and only six of those were playing," Petrie explained. "I have seen a lot of it up close and personal. Portland is a great city, and I think the Trail Blazers, like a lot of teams, have had some ups and downs over the years, but they are still a great tradition for the city."
Even though it has been years since he has been affiliated with the Trail Blazers, Petrie acknowledges that there is still some nostalgia when he looks back on his time in Portland.
"There is always a little bit of nostalgia involved when you have had so much of your adult life involved with the franchise, and I am in the same position now in Sacramento. You think back about all the guys you played with, the people you worked with, the teams that you had from a management standpoint, the relationships with your coaches. Overall it was a great time and I don't regret one single day of it."