Clyde Drexler

June 28: Dream Team debut here and Tyson takes a bite out of Holyfield

June 28: Dream Team debut here and Tyson takes a bite out of Holyfield

I've been bumping around this business for a long time. Too long, many of you might say. During that time, I've seen some pretty good stuff. Unforgettable stuff.

And it just so happens that a couple of those things happened on this date -- June 28.

The first one was in 1992 right here in Portland, the very first game played by the greatest basketball team ever assembled -- the Dream Team -- in Memorial Coliseum. We had no idea what to expect but the results of all the team's games were more one-sided than we expected. And what I remember most was the introduction of the entire roster before the very first game (June 28) vs. Cuba. It was overwhelming to hear the names of all those great players on one squad making their debut in our arena before heading off to the Olympics.

The assembled crowd went nuts, but the biggest ovation? For Clyde Drexler, of course. And it seemed to go on and on and on -- to the point when Clyde flashed an almost embarrassed grin. The event was called The Tournament of the Americas and it has to be the most impressive show ever staged in Portland, including those trips to the NBA Finals,

But it wasn't the most memorable event I ever covered on a June 28. That came five years later, on June 28, 1997 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas. You guessed it -- the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield fight, best known for Tyson biting Holyfield's ears.

It was the craziest event and the craziest aftermath I've ever been around.

When Tyson landed the first bite I couldn't tell exactly what happened and neither could anyone else in the area where I was sitting. It looked as if Holyfield got stung by a bee. Finally, when it happened again, referee Mills Lane stepped in and called the fight a draw. The press room after the fight was chaos and it was difficult to get a clear picture of what happened until after Lane spoke.

But while I was writing my column for The Oregonian, all sorts of mayhem was playing out in the adjoining casino and hotel. People were upset about the mysterious outcome of the fight and rampaging through the casino -- some of them even stealing chips off tables. Gunshots were heard, although that was never confirmed. I did see the local police department outside the hotel, though, with guns drawn.

Later it was revealed to me that among those caught on security tapes stealing chips off tables was a group of NBA players, who were made to pay back what they stole. The casino was closed for an hour -- which had to cost the establishment upwards of a million bucks.

Me? I didn't get back to my room until the wee hours of the morning, having been waved outside the lobby to the street by some cops who looked as if they meant business. It makes for a great story years later but on June 28, 1992, it was frightening.

This could be the very night, though, when that well-known tourist axiom "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" was born. The next day in the local newspaper, there was a tiny story buried near the back of the main section about a little ruckus at the MGM Grand after the fight, mentioning that people thought they heard gunshots but it was merely the sound of champagne corks. Oh sure.

So today, by the way, I'm just sitting around waiting to see what will happen on this June 28. But so far, Phil Jackson getting fired or Tim Quarterman being traded to Houston just don't move the needle.

Like his favorite red wine, CJ McCollum and the Blazers are getting better with age

Like his favorite red wine, CJ McCollum and the Blazers are getting better with age

A connoisseur of red wine, CJ McCollum on Wednesday figured he had earned a glass or two after the Trail Blazers routed the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

For the seventh consecutive game, McCollum had scored 25 or more points, this time pouring in 21 of his 27 in the second half to lead the Blazers’ 102-86 victory over the Cavaliers.

And this time, McCollum even showed a rare side of him – some emotion. After a fourth quarter three gave the Blazers an 85-69 lead, he raised his hands and invited the packed Moda Center stands to join him in reveling in the moment.

Normally, McCollum prides himself on a stoic approach to the game. He is more tactical than emotional, his reasoning rooted in the inconsistency of emotions compared to the more reliable probability of numbers and facts.

But there he was Wednesday, arms raised, hands encouraging more applause, head nodding in approval of the crowd’s crescendo.

 “I usually don’t,’’ McCollum said of playing to the crowd. “But tonight was different. Tomorrow is a blackout day (no practice, no treatment) and I can go home and drink my wine.’’

What made Wednesday’s game different was a culmination of several factors: A quality and convincing win against the defending champions. An impressive display of focus after a wacky day of travel because of the crippling snowstorm that hit Portland. And the validation of a growing feeling around the team that a disappointing season is beginning to turn.

“The game is fun, and when you are playing defense and winning games, it’s (more fun),’’ McCollum said. “And you have to show it’s fun and that you are enjoying it. That’s what I tried to do.’’

Of course, McCollum has been showing more than just emotion lately. His offensive play has been among the best in the NBA.

He is the first Blazers player in 30 years to record seven consecutive games of 25 or more points -- Clyde Drexler in 1987 had a nine-game streak -- and McCollum is tied with Kiki Vandeweghe for the fourth longest streak in franchise history. Geoff Petrie in 1971 established the franchise record of 11 straight games of 25 or more.

“Once he gets hot, it’s hard to stop him,’’ Maurice Harkless said. “He’s been great.’’

During that seven-game span, McCollum is averaging 31.6 points and shooting a blistering 53.7 percent from the field. Only Boston’s Isiaah Thomas (34.1) and Houston’s James Harden (32.7) are averaging more points than McCollum over the last seven games.

“Just shows a lot of hard work,’’ McCollum said of the streak. “An appreciation for the game and understanding it takes a lot of time in the gym, a lot of countless hours watching film. Just a credit to my teammates. I have a lot of good guys on this team who share the ball. Dame puts me in position to score a lot of times and when I’m on the floor with him my percentages sky rocket. And I think Coach has done a good job of putting me in position as a 6-4 combo guard to have success in the NBA.’’

McCollum cautioned that the Blazers (18-23) need to sustain their improved level of play, and noted that the next 10 games will go a long way in determining whether they have indeed turned the corner.

But with Allen Crabbe becoming a more explosive and consistent scorer, Al-Farouq Aminu spearheading a defensive resurgence, and Evan Turner blossoming as a defensive Swiss Army knife and a play-making passer,  the Blazers seem to be getting better as the season ages.

Much like the wine McCollum planned to enjoy Wednesday night.

Next up: Orlando at Blazers, 7 p.m. Friday (KGW).


11 - Geoff Petrie (2/12/71 - 3/2/71)
9- Clyde Drexler (11/20/87 - 12/6/87)
8 - Geoff Petrie (12/26/70 - 1/8/71)
7 - CJ McCollum (12/28/16 - PRESENT)
7 - Kiki Vandeweghe (1/23/86 - 2/4/86)
7 - Sidney Wicks (1/19/73 - 2/6/73)
6 - Damian Lillard (10/25/16 - 11/4/16)
6- LaMarcus Aldridge (1/15/14 - 1/23/14)
6 - LaMarcus Aldridge (1/15/14 - 1/23/14)
6 - LaMarcus Aldridge (12/30/10 - 1/9/11)
6 - Clyde Drexler (1/14/88 - 1/26/88)
6 - Sidney Wicks (3/9/72 - 3/21/72)