The hour-long Trail Blazers documentary ‘Rip City Revival’, which aired Sunday night on NBA TV, featured interviews from Blazer greats Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter & Buck Williams.
It was a history lesson, and a time to reflect, while hearing from the players who led the 1989-92 Blazers squad to so much success.
That Portland team made it to three straight Western Conference Finals appearances along with a pair of NBA Finals appearances.
It became the must-see event in the city. – Terry Porter on ‘Rip City Revival’
“You look at the Trail Blazers team -- it’s a bunch of blue collar guys.” Buck Williams added.
The Trail Blazers selected Drexler as the 14th overall pick in the 1983 NBA Draft from the University of Houston. The following year, Portland drafted Jerome Kersey 46th overall from Longwood College. Then came Porter as the Trail Blazers’ No. 24 overall pick in the 1985 draft out of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
Neither Drexler, nor Porter had very much knowledge when it came to Rip City and they admitted so in the documentary.
Before I got to Portland I didn’t know much about the city. At the time I was 21 years old, had really never left Houston other than to play in games and coming back… I had zero expectations. -- Clyde Drexler on being drafted to Portland
It’s probably safe to say then that the Trail Blazers fan base, and Portland as a city, exceeded Drexler’s expectations.
When the Milwaukee Bucks passed on Porter and drafted Jerry Reynolds instead, even the Bucks told Porter they would draft him, he wasn’t sure what to think. Porter was forced to ponder his future while attending the Bucks Draft Watch party.
Luckily for Porter, he didn’t have to wait long after Milwaukee’s 22nd pick.
“I didn’t have a clue where Portland was, Portland Oregon,” Porter laughed. “I had no idea where it was. And, I’m sure most of the fan base in Portland didn’t know where Stevens Point, Wisconsin was, either. So we were even when it came to that.”
The love between Porter and Rip City is even, as well.
Both Porter and Drexler emphasized how special and supportive this Trail Blazers group was as a team. Porter shared his thoughts on how extraordinary Trail Blazers fans were back then, especially during the playoffs.
“When we were going through our playoff run when you came in the city, buildings in the city had ‘Rip City’ or ‘Go Blazers’ on the windows. People wearing gear all the time,” Porter said.
“It was just a vibe, an excitement about the city.”
Now as so much time has passed, wanting to win for the fans weighs heavy on Porter's mind.
When you have a fan base like we had during that three or four year stretch, you wanted to reward them, you wanted to reward them so badly for all their hard work and their support -- give them something that they could cling to and have a championship. There’s nothing like that for a city. -- Terry Porter
As Buck Williams put it, “one piece is missing.”
That has always been one of the biggest takeaways from this Trail Blazers era – there was no Championship.
However, unlike other NBA fans around the country, Trail Blazers fans always have and always will celebrate this memorable squad.
Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, and Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri.