Dwight Jaynes

Ever Wonder why the Ducks and Beavers rivalry is called the Civil War?

Ever Wonder why the Ducks and Beavers rivalry is called the Civil War?

There is nothing much civil about it.

The battle for bragging rights and state supremacy. 

There's college sports rivalries across the nation: The Red River Showdown, The Backyard Brawl, The Holy War, Tobacco Road, World's Largest Outdoor (Cocktail) Party, Bedlam Series, The Iron Bowl. 

So, how did the Oregon-Oregon State series get its name?

The term “Civil War” first appeared in newspapers way back in 1929 -- when an Oregon coach equated the game’s importance in the state to the Civil War -- and it caught on. In just a few years it came into general usage. That’s because, just like the actual Civil War did in border states, the rivalry is something that has divided the state, often pitting brother against brother and caused families to choose sides.

Or, in these games, it’s often been husband vs. wife in allegiance to one school or the other.

With the football games, it’s not as obvious as North vs. South. The enemy is more stealth.

One-time OSU head coach Dee Andros once famously said that the game is “for the right to live in the state of Oregon.”

And sometimes, allegiances can be complicated.

The voice of the Beavers, Mike Parker, is actually a graduate of Oregon. Don Essig, the long-time public address announcer for Duck football and basketball, is a graduate of Oregon State.

But one man stands above everyone else in terms of seeing both sides of the series of games between Oregon and Oregon State and he is Rich Brooks -- someone who competed, with great success, on both sides of the fence..

Brooks played at Oregon State and then later served as an assistant coach there. But then he became head coach at Oregon, where he won more games against the Beavers than any other Duck coach. When you step on the playing field at Autzen Stadium, you’re standing on “Rich Brooks Field.”

Attempts have been made to dump that Civil War moniker, but it’s seemingly just too ingrained now. Sports columnists and editors over the years tried in vain to ban the reference, but it just won’t go away.

There has never been a long-lasting trophy given to the winner of the game, although there was one carved out of maple in 1959 that was given to the winner for a few years. Called the “Platypus Trophy,” it was in the image of the animal with a duck-like bill and a beaver-like tail. The trophy was lost for more than four decades before being found in a closet at McArthur Court and is now reportedly exchanged by booster clubs for the schools.

But it isn’t something that’s become an icon for the winner, who after all, gets to live in the state for another year.

The Trail Blazers, no doubt, will get their chance to fight for playoff berth

The Trail Blazers, no doubt, will get their chance to fight for playoff berth

When the NBA finally figures out what the end of the 2020 season will look like when it gets together, likely in Florida's version of the Magic Kingdom, rest assured the Trail Blazers will have some way, some path, to competing in the playoffs.

It will happen.

This league is smart enough to know that as many of its superstars and their fan bases as possible need to be a part of the NBA’s grand reopening. This is going to be happening in the middle of the summer in an unprecedented time of other sports also launching at approximately the same time -- with no fans present at any of the games. And at least in the NBA, no home games for any team.

Television ratings will be everything. And that’s going to be a dogfight between MLB, the NHL and NBA -- with the NFL looming. Anything that can be done to bring eyeballs to games should and will be done by all the leagues.

That means compelling players and matchups. Storylines. Proven ratings-getters. It also means games that count. Real games. And if teams not currently in the top 16 in the league standings aren't given a chance to somehow play their way into the postseason, they won't be playing meaningful games.

They shouldn't even be there.

The NBA is not shy about attempting to make its product as relevant as possible. It has always done everything possible -- above board and maybe sometimes not above board -- to bring fans the matchups the league thinks people want.

Damian Lillard drew a line in the sand Tuesday, telling the league that if his team doesn’t have a chance to play its way into the playoffs, you won’t see him on the court.

And you can bet the league office listened. But I would also wager that the NBA already knew that not only Lillard, but many of the league’s best and most important players feel the same way. I do not believe the NBA wants any part of a situation that leaves Lillard, or other great players, on the sidelines.

If teams aren’t competing for a playoff berth at some point, they’re just playing exhibition games -- and the best players don’t bother much with non-counting games.

So there will be a mechanism for several teams -- not just the Trail Blazers, who should be rejuvenated by the presence of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins -- but several other teams on the fringes of a playoff berth to have a shot at the playoffs.

The league wants Damian Lillard to play meaningful games. That translates into TV ratings.

Something else does, too -- and it plays into Portland’s playoff chances. Obviously, LeBron James is a ratings monster and the NBA was hurt all season by James playing on the west coast, making his games difficult to watch in the east. Ratings suffered.

And the league’s new ratings monster is Zion Williamson. Everyone knows this and you can’t talk to many people around the league who don’t believe that Zion makes a playoff/play-in scenario a necessity.

And guess what? The Trail Blazers have one more loss than Williamson’s New Orleans Pelicans but also one more win and thus, if league standings are frozen now and used to determine playoff eligibility, Portland is one single, scant percentage point ahead of the Pels in the standings.

I don’t see any way the entire remainder of the schedule will be played -- there isn’t enough time. Something will be done based on the standings as they sit now.

So if Zion is in, the Trail Blazers are in. It’s that simple. You can’t put New Orleans in without putting Portland in. 

The league needs Zion and Dame -- and I just can’t see any way they will be left out.

It won’t happen. They will get their chance. Maybe not a great chance, but a chance.

Damian Lillard is sending a message to the NBA -- give us a shot at playoffs

Damian Lillard is sending a message to the NBA -- give us a shot at playoffs

It is not unexpected that Damian Lillard says he won’t participate if the Trail Blazers are brought back this summer by the NBA to play just a few games without any chance of earning a playoff berth.

I would not expect one of the game’s great competitors to be involved in such a situation. With nothing to play for, why play? Especially after such a long layoff? These would be exhibition games -- and you know how much playing time stars get in exhibition games.

But, of course, even by saying this, I think Lillard plants a seed with the league that they better give the borderline teams a chance for a playoff berth -- either by playing out the full schedule or (more likely) using a play-in tournament.

And I think this may have been Lillard’s motivation for going public with this statement. He wants his team to have a shot at a playoff berth and this may help the cause.

I would expect other talented players to follow Lillard’s lead, by the way. And this isn’t going to be much of a television product without the NBA’s best players taking part.

I would expect, by saying this, Lillard will move the needle toward the most likely course -- play enough “regular season” games to get all teams to 70 total contests, satisfying local television contracts, then go to some sort of mini-tournament.

I do not think all teams will be involved in that. Use common sense and invite the teams that are realistically close to earning a berth and leave the bottom-feeders out. Seed them using the current standings and let them go at it.

The most likely plan would probably be to get Western Conference hopefuls Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Memphis together -- perhaps giving the Grizzlies (since they hold the No. 8 spot) a chance to sit out and play the winner of a four-team mini-tourney for that final spot. Maybe make that series vs. Memphis a best-of-three.

Win or go home in the four-teamer. Sudden death.

It would be wild. And fun.

Tiger Woods was solid, Peyton Manning was good and Tom Brady was very revealing

Tiger Woods was solid, Peyton Manning was good and Tom Brady was very revealing

A few thoughts on “The Match: Champions for Charity:”

  • It was a fun event, but would have likely been even more fun if the weather had been better. Still, it was enjoyable to see the pros struggle in the kind of weather Oregonians play golf in quite frequently.

  • Shorts. PGA players look so much more athletic playing in shorts. And they should be allowed to do that on the tour. The idea of competing in an athletic event wearing slacks has always seemed silly to me. Especially in summer’s hottest days.

  • Tiger Woods looked ready. He hit every fairway and was solid in all phases. The Tour’s hiatus seemed to do him a lot of good. I hope he can stay healthy long enough to play in a couple of majors. He is still one of the most compelling athletes in sports.

  • And events like this where you see that social version of Woods, where he laughs a bit and interacts with other players, is fun to watch.

  • Tom Brady was nervous. I get it. Golf obviously isn’t his sport and no athlete, no human, would be wild about embarrassing himself on national television. And then the guy split the back of his pants right there on camera! Nice comeback on the back nine, though.

  • But Tom, on a course with wide fairways, why weren’t you using your driver off the tee?

  • Phil Mickelson had to carry his team and the match would have made sense if he’d had Peyton Manning as his partner, rather than Brady. Phil’s fun, though, and he is going to make a great golf commentator when he’s finished with the Tour.

  • Charles Barkley makes every event more entertaining.

  • Oh man, I'd love to have one of those golf carts they were using. They were sleek, cool and, seemingly, fast. Mickelson and Woods, particularly, seemed to enjoy jetting around in them.

  • Putting a mic on a player makes a telecast better in any sport.

  • It was pretty easy to tell which quarterback has been retired for five years and which one is still playing football. Manning has been playing a lot of golf -- and he’s good.

  • Golf should do more of these types of events. And I do expect at least one more with Phil and Tiger. They have each won one so there’s a rubber match coming sometime. And it will be good. And raising 20 million bucks for charity is pretty nice, too.

There was nobody like the great Jerry Sloan -- and there still isn't

There was nobody like the great Jerry Sloan -- and there still isn't

The Utah Jazz announced today that former coach Jerry Sloan has died at the age of 78. He had been battling Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia for several years.

And battling is what Sloan did most of his life.

He was a fighter as an NBA player, when he was in the tough-as-nails Chicago Bulls’ backcourt alongside Norm Van Lier. As a coach with the Utah Jazz, he preached a physical approach to the game and was as feisty as any NBA coach has ever been. I saw him square off with former teammate and Blazer Coach Rick Adelman after a summer-league game in Salt Lake City once -- neither man willing to back off. And of course, they were great friends.

You won’t find many people who don’t think he was a better human than coach. And he was a Hall of Fame coach. He was a wonderful, self-deprecating man with the kind of spirit you probably get from growing up as the youngest of 10 children raised by a single mother in the little town of Gobbler’s Knob, Ill. You get up at 4:30 in the morning to do farm chores and then walk two miles to school, you might just develop some character, too.

The writers loved him. He’d always pop into the media dining room a couple of hours before the game and enjoy a meal with us, so cordial to everyone -- whether you worked for the New York Times or the Sellwood Bee. I was fortunate to share a friendship with the Jazz trainer, the great Mike Shimensky, and Mike would always make sure I knew when and where Jerry and his top assistant Phil Johnson were going to be hanging out the night before a game in Portland. Usually, it was Champion’s at the Marriott, and I’d meet up with them for a night of nachos, wings, a few cold drinks and a lot of laughs.

The man was a storyteller of the highest order.

But he kept it real. And he trusted. He would talk openly about his team or yours, knowing you wouldn’t run out and share it with anyone.

That doesn’t happen much these days.

I watched several times as the Utah owner at the time, the late Larry Miller, jumped out of his courtside seat at halftime and followed his team into the locker room.

I asked Jerry if it bothered him to have his owner eavesdropping during the intermission.

“Not at all,” he said with a wide smile. “I want him to see what I have to deal with. I want him to know what’s going on in there. He can come in anytime he wants.”

That was Coach Sloan. Transparent. Nothing to hide. His teams seldom tried to trick you. Every team in the league knew what the Jazz would run. And they would run it so well you couldn’t stop it.

And if you couldn’t stop it, you might see the same thing 15 times in a row because that’s what worked. Pretty simple.

Jerry Sloan liked it that way. He was beloved within the NBA family and you will see that in the days to come, as those who knew him much better than I did, memorialize him. There was nobody like him.

Still isn’t.

LeBron James is putting the NBA in danger during hiatus

LeBron James is putting the NBA in danger during hiatus

OK, so LeBron James is working out with teammates at a “safe, secure” private location these days.

That doesn’t sound as if it fits under the NBA’s guidelines for what can be done during the league’s hiatus. Apparently “safe" and "secure” are relative terms.

Most teams were operating under the assumption that players could work out only at team facilities:

In the past, players hold (sic) their workouts in practically any practice facility. However, the NBA announced that it won’t be allowed this time around. Players can only workout in their team’s facility.

Yes, three or four players could be on the court at the same time, but they had to be separate. They were NOT supposed to actually be “practicing” together. There were all sorts of other rules associated with it, but I’m sure “The King” abided by them all.

I mean, he would never think he’s so special that he’s not governed by the same rules as his minions, right?

You’ve heard, by now, about Jordan Rules. Now get used to LeBron Rules.

If you haven’t already.

Memories from Trail Blazers-Bulls 1992 NBA Finals Game 4

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Memories from Trail Blazers-Bulls 1992 NBA Finals Game 4

Have you had enough of Michael Jordan yet? Or maybe have you had enough of watching him win games, especially over the Trail Blazers?

Well, have we got a game for you.

Tonight’s Trail Blazer classic is Game 4 of the 1992 NBA Finals in Memorial Coliseum -- when the Trail Blazers rallied from a 22-9 deficit at the onset of the game to win 93-88 and even the series at two games apiece.

Portland closed the game on a 15-6 run, to the delight of the frenzied, sellout MC crowd.

And the amazing thing about the Trail Blazers’ late run is that they held arguably the greatest closer in NBA history, Jordan, scoreless over the final 10:26 of the game.

Funny, but that span of the Finals wasn’t a part of the footage for “The Last Dance.”

The Blazers got big contributions from several players. Clyde Drexler had 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists. Jerome Kersey also had 21 points, making eight of his 12 shots. Terry Porter hit five of his 10 shots and scored 14 to go with six rebounds and four assists. Clifford Robinson had 17 off the bench and Kevin Duckworth secured 11 rebounds.

Jordan finished with a game-high 32 points but needed 26 shots to do it.

Portland won the rebound battle 45-33.

HOW TO WATCH: Trail Blazers vs. Bulls Game 4, June 10, 1992

WHEN: Thursday, May 21 at 6:30pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here.  

Or stream the game on your phone with the 'MyTeams' App -- available in the App Store for iPhones and on Google play. 

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

COVID-19 could force MLB expansion, is Portland Diamond Project ready?

COVID-19 could force MLB expansion, is Portland Diamond Project ready?

COVID-19 has cut a wide path through professional sports and pro leagues are still not sure what they are going to do in order to get started again.

Foremost of these is Major League Baseball, the true “Boys of Summer” sport. Owners and players are still negotiating terms for kickstarting an aborted season and whatever happens, there is no question that both sides are losing a lot of money.

Which is very bad for them but could prove to be very beneficial for the Portland Diamond Project.

Expansion in baseball over the years has often not been about the simple need for adding worthy cities or creating more jobs for players. It’s frequently been used as the quickest and best cash grab for owners facing big debt.

Which is exactly the situation those owners are going to be facing soon -- whether they play a shortened season (likely without fans in their ballparks) or not.

Time for a quick look back:

The players’ strike in 1994, which cost millions, sparked an expansion wave in 1998, with the new franchises having to begin paying their franchise fees in 1995. A previous expansion followed a collusion settlement with the players’ association that meant owners needed to come up with a lot of quick cash.

There hasn’t been expansion in 22 years because baseball owners have been running a money machine, with rich revenue from television (regional sports networks, especially), merchandise and their successful digital presence. They didn’t want to share their pot of gold and didn’t need the quick cash infusion.

Now, though, those expansion fees are going to look very tempting to owners who are likely going to be decimated by the pandemic.

It is estimated an expansion fee these days would be priced somewhere between $1 and $1.5 billion. Adding two teams at $1.5 billion would net the 30 existing franchises $50 million apiece -- which would do a lot to take the sting out of the expected losses this summer.

It would also mean MLB could go with a sensible eight-team, four-division setup that could mean less travel for each team, appeasing players and saving money.

Of course, realignment like that would require progressive thinking baseball may not be capable of conjuring. More likely they’d try eight, four-team divisions -- so more teams could win “pennants.”

Whatever.

Could the Portland Diamond Project handle that sort of heavy expansion fee, then build its own ballpark, too?

It is believed the answer is yes. They seem confident -- they were likely going to have to pay in the neighborhood of a billion dollars (or more) for an existing team. The Miami Marlins sold for $1.2 billion in 2017.

The PDP has been quiet of late but very active behind the scenes, staying in touch with its contacts inside MLB and continuing to do its due diligence on local ballpark sites.

But competition for those expansion teams is expected to be heated, with new cities popping up all the time. Lately, Charlotte, Vancouver, B.C., Nashville and even New Orleans have been mentioned along with standbys Portland, Montreal and Las Vegas.

But in a time when the Oakland A’s can’t even make their stadium rent payments and a lot of teams are going to be going from riches to rags, expansion seems to be the easiest and quickest way to solve MLB’s looming financial problems.

It’s up to the PDP to be ready when the moment comes. And I believe it is.

The night Vernon Maxwell went total 'Mad Max' on a Trail Blazers fan

The night Vernon Maxwell went total 'Mad Max' on a Trail Blazers fan

Let’s start with this -- They called Vernon Maxwell “Mad Max” for a reason. Maybe then this will make a bit more sense when talking about one of the NBA’s all-time most notorious players.

And we're talking about a game played nine years prior to the “Malice at the Palace,” so let's take a look back at the incident in Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 7, 1995 that had all the potential to be even worse than that brutal brawl between the Pacers and Pistons.

You can find the NSFW video and audio below with an unlikely combo of Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates at a Blazers game

This comes with a strong language and violence warning.


Then with the Houston Rockets, Maxwells saunters up an aisle and into the seats at the north end of MC and punches a fan in the face.

You may also notice that nobody attempts to stop him, even though he wasn’t going at a fast pace. A couple of teammates went up when a melee began, but most of the Rockets stayed on the bench and didn’t attempt to stop him. That was probably an indication that they either wanted to see what he would do or simply knew him well enough not to bother trying to get in his way when he was in one of his moods.

There probably wasn’t enough security on hand in those days to handle what could have happened if his team had followed him and gotten involved. This was pretty deep into the grandstand and a lot of spectators could have been involved.

Mad Max paid what was a heavy price in those days for his actions -- a 10-game suspension and $20,000 fine.

And he was sued by the victim of the punch, Steve George, who asked for $1.4 million from Maxwell and another $3.1 million from the Rockets for failing to control a player with a resume indicating he might tend to get out of control.

Maxwell countersued, claiming George had showered racial taunts at him -- an allegation that nobody else ever collaborated. Eventually, there was a settlement, but Maxwell’s issues never seemed to end.

He was reportedly involved in all sorts of actions that landed him in trouble and even in jail. He once was said to have hit a teammate over the head with a dumbbell, faced kidnapping charges, was busted for drug possession, failure to pay child support and knowingly infecting a woman with herpes. He also declared bankruptcy after making millions in the league.

Quite a guy.

But he was a pretty good player when he wanted to be, or teams wouldn’t have put up with his antics for 855 games.

Damian Lillard COULD win a title in Portland and it would mean more if he did

Damian Lillard COULD win a title in Portland and it would mean more if he did

Stephen A. Smith didn’t exactly go out on a long limb Tuesday with his rant that Damian Lillard would never win a championship as a Portland Trail Blazer.

Come on, let’s face it. Smith could say that about just about any other max-salary player in the league who doesn’t happen to be on a team with LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard.

I have so much more respect for a player like Lillard who wants to do it his way, with his team, than another guy looking to latch on to LeBron’s coattails and ride them to an easy title.

You think Larry Bird or Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan would have chosen to be just another guy that James or Steph Curry hauled to a championship?

The point is, Lillard is determined to do it in Portland, where it would mean more to him and to the NBA if he could somehow win it all.

And it COULD happen. Not all the teams who have won titles over the last couple of decades have been dynasties. Not all have been loaded superteams. The Dallas Mavericks got a title and so did Toronto, just last season. And that Detroit team in 2004 wasn’t exactly a team for the ages.

I believe Portland could build a team that for at least one season, could be as good as those teams.

Market size, demographics, weather -- all have made Portland anything but a prime free-agent destination. But Neil Olshey has made astute deals and, when healthy, this current team can beat anybody when at its absolute best. Another player or two in a key spot, it could happen.

And that title would belong to Damian Lillard. Not Lebron or Kawhi or Steph… or Stephen A. Smith.