The Heart of Rip City (a must read for people who grew up Blazer Fans)
It was the spring of 1990, and I had just turned 10 years old in the month of March. My mother worked hard as a hair dresser, and she would take me to visit my grandmother every Saturday. My grandma Lois and I were very close. I never knew my real dad, and even though I had a step-father since the age of 5, we were never close. Grandma Lois became my second mom, and she cared for me as if she were my mom. So I guess you could say that even though I had the body of a little football player, I had the heart and integrety that gave me the comparison to a cuddly teddy bear (as had been told to me time and time again by young women throughout my childhood and teen years). This story is about family, and how my grandmother made sure that family always came first.
Each Saturday morning I would go see my grandma. Some days she would take me to the Clackamas Town Center (mall), and on occasion she would take me on the Max train to go to the Saturday Morning Market located Downtown. She would play games with me, watch movies, and on special Saturdays if we were lucky, we would watch the Portland Trailblazers play basketball on television. My early memories of grandma is of how happy she would be whenever we would watch the Blazers together. I would have to say that her favorite player on the team was Terry Porter, so I soon began to watch and see why she enjoyed him so much. That Spring of 1990, I too adopted Terry as my favorite Trail Blazer. Sure Clyde Drexler had the talent, Jerome Kersey had the energy, Buck Williams had the determination and Kevin Duckworth had the size, but I soon realized that Terry Porter was much more than a good basketball player. He was a team leader, but most importantly he had the beating heart of the team. To me, watching my grandmother show her love for this team showed me the true meaning of the phrase "Rip City".
We would watch as the Blazers fought for a victory. I can still remember how I thought the free throw line was so far from the basketball hoop. I use to be amazed when a free throw would go in, cause to me the distance appeared to be a mile long. I would watch as Terry Porter would walk to the line, and how he would lift the ball up to his head. He would gather his grip of the ball as he planted his leading foot to the line. Then he would turn to look to the basketball hoop, stick out his tongue with an intense look on his face, take three dribbles, then release...."RIP CITY" my grandma would yell out with joy. She would look to me pointing out her finger and say, "You Gotta Make your Free-Throws". I must also mention that she was a huge fan of Bill Shonly, and it was later that I realized that her devotion to the Shons is why she understood what "Rip City" was all about. Its not about how many points the team scores, or even the play of the game. It was about the beating heart of the team, and their love for the game of basketball. I began to understand the phenomenon of "Rip City" at that tender age of 10, but I did not fully grasp the entire understanding of what "Rip City" meant to me until later that spring.
So I come to the late spring of 1990. The Blazers had made the playoffs. My grandmothers love for the team began to spill out and cover my whole family. My mother began to listen to Bob Miller on the radio, and she recorded all the songs the radio station created as a tribute to the Trail Blazers for making it to the playoffs. I remember "Rip City Rap City", "Larry Brown"-Larry Brown, Larry Brown, your a clown that Larry Brown. He's gonna get whipped Just you wait and see, Why are the Blazers always scoring on me. Or how about this jingle--"Bye bye Pat, so long Laker folks, you thought Portland Was a Joke so see you all next year. Oh Patrick Riley what have you done. When you weren't looking Pheonix won. " But anyway, to my point, that wonderful spring, my 3rd grade class at Whiteman Elementry was invited to participate in the Junior Parade. I dressed up as Paddington Bear because I had acted in a 3rd grade play.the rest of my classmates dressed up as what they wanted to be when they grew up. When I participated in that parade, the full understanding of true "Rip City" finally became clear to me. My mother went with my class and was in the parade with me. She dressed up as the "#1 Blazer fan" all decked out in Blazers clothing. Ironically enough, there were a coulple of kids playing basketball on a hoop that moved along with the parade, so my mom and I walked at the end of the class. She would yell out to the crowd and chant "Rip City" and play her 10 plus Blazer songs that she recorded onto a tape off the radio. She played the tape, and would dance with a jukebox in hand, wristbands on her wrists and a blazers headband planted on her head, not to forget to mention a Blazers Penant flag she waved in her other hand, and she was wearing a Western Conference Championship shirt that she had bought after the Blazers beat the Pheonix Suns. It was then I finally understood what Rip City Nation was all about. The crowd and my mom had love and joy for one another, united by the success and community service of our cities basketball team. It was then that I understood that we as fans are all connected, and through that connection we find a commen bond, and are united with love for our team, which then branches out to the community.
My final point of what "Rip City" means to me, is how amazing an affect the teams' success had on my family. For the playoff games, my family paid to watch every game of the playoffs in our living room. Every game my grandma was with us, on on many of the games my favorite uncle and his family would pitch in for the price of the game and come over to our house for a Blazers' Playoff game party. My brother was 16 at the time, and he was one of the lucky people who got to go pay tribute to our team by celebrating the Blazers winning the Western Conference Finals against the Pheonix Suns, by greeting the basketball team with love and admiration as they got off the airplane, and came home to be welcomed back to "Rip City Nation".
So if you havent discovered what Rip City is all about yet, start taking a look out your front door. Watch as more and more fans come back to the team that this city loves. See all the Blazer jerseys and shirts that people begin to wear all over town. Experience the true love and joy that Blazer fans have for their team. Go downtown and see the billboards and parafinilia all tributed to our team. Finally, understand what this team is doing and what they have done for this communtiy to make it better. Its about all of us. One team, one dream. So if you havent gotten on the bandwaggen there is always room for one more. So anyone out there with the time to read this blog just remember that we can make this great city of Portland better by helping each other, and rooting for your Portland Trail Blazers is a good place to start. Be a part of the Rip City Uprise and make the Rip City Nation one member stronger.