Danny Ainge

Social Media Reacts: Rip City reminisces about Trail Blazers 1991-92 squad

Social Media Reacts: Rip City reminisces about Trail Blazers 1991-92 squad

Happy Throwback Thursday, Rip City!

The Trail Blazers' 115-104 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of the 1992 NBA Finals had the city of Portland on edge back in the summer of ’92, and now in the spring of 2020.

In the classic re-air of Game 2, fans of today were reminiscing about how air horns were allowed in Chicago Stadium back then. 

https://twitter.com/BlazerTagPDX/status/1245892444610158595

But hey, time can change everything. Who would thought in 1992 that a Sonics fan could turn out to be a big Trail Blazers fan nearly 20 years later?  

Now we know it could happen. 

The Blazers and Bulls series had it all with the battle of legends Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler.

Portland’s road to the 1992 NBA Finals:

First Round

Defeated L.A. Lakers, 3-1

West Semifinals

Defeated Phoenix, 4-1

West Finals

Defeated Utah, 4-2 

The current era of basketball peeps showed some love for the ’92 Blazers getting out and running.

The fastbreak was a thing of beauty!   

It was an ugly third quarter for Portland, though.  

Chicago went on a 13-0 run to end the third as the Bulls took a 77-70 lead. The Blazers shot 7-for-20 in the third.

But, things got worse before they got better for Portland.

Drexler picked up his fourth foul at the 8:12 mark in the third quarter, but Drexler stayed in the game.  The Blazers superstar fouled out with 4:36 remaining on the clock with Portland down eight.

When Drexler fouled out people shared their emotions on Twitter of what it was like watching the game live and seeing Drexler taken out of the game.  

https://twitter.com/__Arthur_Dent__/status/1245909933083803653

It seemed unlikely the Blazers could win in Chicago in Game 2 considering Game 1’s loss was pretty demoralizing and then it became even more improbable after Drexler fouled out. It seemed the game would be over.

Yet, we all know, the Blazers role players stepped up.

Danny Ainge, Kevin Duckworth, and Jerome Kersey were determined to claw back and that they did.   

This classic game had Drexler and Terry Porter combining for 50, while Ainge went off for 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting off the bench.

Fans all over twitter gave props to Portland’s role players:

The Blazers outscored the Bulls, 28-10 in the last ten minutes of the game and into overtime -- all without Drexler.

Ainge had nine points in OT and proved once again how much of a competitor he was on the floor.

https://twitter.com/Luke_The_Duke24/status/1245917993529294863 https://twitter.com/Luke_The_Duke24/status/1245916918592057344

That was a fun Throwback Thursday, for sure!  

How the series turned out:

Game 1:

CHICAGO 122, Portland 89

Game 2:

Portland 115, CHICAGO 115 (OT)

Game 3:

Chicago 94, PORTLAND 84

Game 4:

PORTLAND 93, Chicago 88

Game 5:

Chicago 119, PORTLAND 106

Game 6:

CHICAGO 97, Portland 93

Damon Stoudamire, Kevin Love and... who else makes up your Oregon prep all-stars?

Damon Stoudamire, Kevin Love and... who else makes up your Oregon prep all-stars?

I had a lot of fun yesterday on Twitter chatting about the five best high school basketball players I’ve seen in person and I thought I’d continue that discussion today with some additional thoughts about players I’ve seen.

I confined this to Oregon players, not the ones I’ve seen in tournaments in various places. I think it’s more fun than to include the drop-ins from the Les Schwab Invitational or the Nike tournaments.

My best five from Oregon that I watched play in high school:

  • Richard Washington, Benson Tech: Perhaps Oregon’s first big-time, national recruit. John Wooden came to see him here and the Wizard of Westwood seldom went anywhere to watch recruits. Washington, an athletic 6-11 center, eventually became an MVP of the Final Four for the Bruins but left school early as a “hardship” case, which allowed him to enter the NBA draft after his junior season. High school teams were virtually helpless against him. 

  • Danny Ainge, North Eugene High: Tremendous competitor who won state titles as a junior and senior, losing just one game over that time. Not flashy but hit all the big shots and made his teammates better. A terrific quarterback and shortstop, too. I still maintain that he is the state’s best all-around athlete ever.

  • Terrell Brandon, Grant High: Extremely quick with a high basketball IQ, he was a scorer, a playmaker and a leader for an outstanding team. Was once featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as “the best point guard in the NBA” before injuries got the best of him.

  • Kevin Love, Lake Oswego: Dominant inside player with all the post moves who could hit jump shots from three-point range. Relentless rebounder and a winner. Smart player who was nationally known at a very young age and was highly recruited. Like Washington, he ended up at UCLA, even though his father, Stan, starred at Oregon.

  • Damon Stoudamire, Wilson High: One of the best prep players in the country as a senior, he was smart, quick and a terrific clutch shooter from deep. Like Ainge, of course, he would later become a Trail Blazer. Lived and breathed basketball and still does -- was West Coast Conference Coach of the Year this season at Pacific.

At this point, I want to mention five great players from Oregon I never saw play in high school, although I may have seen them in college or the pros. Although a lot of people have probably not heard of some of these players, you should have:

  • Mel Counts, Marshfield High School: Played a dozen years in the NBA after his career at Oregon State and was way ahead of his time. This was a seven-footer with range on his jumper who would have been right at home shooting threes in today’s game.

  • Swede Halbrook, Lincoln High: At 7-3 was in the late 1950s the tallest player ever to play college basketball at that time, while at OSU. Set just about every scoring record in Oregon prep history while at Lincoln. Played two seasons for Syracuse in the NBA.

  • Jim Jarvis, Roseburg High: Saw him at Oregon State but not in high school. A flashy guard known for behind-the-back passes before many players did those in games. Played two seasons in the ABA.

  • Steve Jones, Franklin High: Saw his brother, Nick, play at Marshall, but did not see Steve play in high school. I always teased him that Nick was better, although I had no idea if that was true. Steve, an ex-Duck, went on to become an ABA stalwart and later, a Trail Blazer.

  • Dave Gambee, Corvallis High: After his career at Oregon State in the 1950s, he went on to play from 1958 to 1970 in the NBA, averaging 10.6 points per game. A rugged forward, he backed down from nobody.

Apologies to all the great players I forgot. This was a tough task because we’ve been blessed to see some very, very good ones in this state.

Feel free to leave your own additions to this group in the comments or with your tweets.

 

If you haven't seen those old Lakers-Celtics Finals games, this is a good time

If you haven't seen those old Lakers-Celtics Finals games, this is a good time

During the NBA hiatus, you have a great opportunity to check out some games from the past, on NBC Sports Northwest and NBA TV. Today, my network showed that terrific Portland comeback at Toronto earlier this season. An incredible win over the defending champs.

But I want to alert those who didn’t get a chance to see some of those great Celtics-Lakers games of the past, you’re likely going to get a chance to see several of them. Use the DVR and check some games out when you get a chance. Let me tell you why, after watching Game 4 of the 1987 Finals Sunday afternoon:

  • People now talk about post-up plays being a thing of the past and not efficient basketball. But really, if you had post players like these guys were, you’d be setting them up all night long. Kevin McHale, Robert Parrish, James Worthy and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all hit difficult, contested shots repeatedly. You just don’t see that much anymore.

  • Two referees rather than three -- but if the two are Earl Strom and Hubert Evans, you’re going to be just fine. They kept the game moving and ignored the noise.

  • I can’t tell you how many shots were taken just INSIDE the three-point line. Larry Bird did it all the time. And nobody paid much attention to it.

  • Those meal-delivery ads that feature a doorbell ringing about three times fool my dog every time. And me, almost every time.

  • Boston’s starting lineup played 47, 45, 45, 42 and 36 minutes -- and those 36 were only because Parrish was in foul trouble. Nobody does that these days.

  • Danny Ainge played so hard. But you probably already knew that.

  • The worst words starting out a commercial are, “Hey, isn’t that Frank Thomas?” The worst words ending a commercial are, “... And your wife will like it, too.”

  • Unless you’ve watched games from this era, you have no idea how physical they were.

  • Mychal Thompson was an important player for the Lakers after his stint in Portland, Terrific with Magic Johnson on the pick-and-roll.

  • Magic won the game with a baby hook going across the lane with 2 seconds left, climaxing a 16-point Laker comeback.

  • If you see a game from Boston Garden in those days, admire that parquet floor -- but know that the floor was in terrible shape, with dead spots and uneven seams. Just the way the Celtics wanted it.

Native Oregonian and former Trail Blazer Danny Ainge suffers mild heart attack

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USATI

Native Oregonian and former Trail Blazer Danny Ainge suffers mild heart attack

Scary news out of Boston today as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge has suffered a heart attack.

Ainge has long ties to the state of Oregon. A state champion at North Eugene High School, he went on to BYU and is the only person to be named a high school first team All-American in football, basketball and baseball. 

In 1990, Ainge was traded to the Trail Blazers where he helepd the team advance to the 1992 NBA FInals, where they lost in six games to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. After the 1992 season, Ainge became a free agent. 

In 2003, Ainge took over in the front office for the Celtrics and has been there ever since. 

More updates to come as news becomes available. 

My Blazers Pick 'Em team can beat your team

My Blazers Pick 'Em team can beat your team

My team can beat your team, I bet.

If you haven't taken part in "Blazers Pick'Em" yet, you should. Go to our website and find it here.

You get an opportunity to make up your own roster but with a twist. There's a limit, a kind of salary cap associated with your team. You have to be smart to pick up a few players on the cheap to supplement your stars -- just like a real NBA general manager.

Here's a look at my team:

  • Bill Walton -- my first choice. A former MVP of the Finals and a player who makes others better. At his healthy best, one of the greatest players of all time. If he isn't on your team, don't even talk to me.
  • Damian Lillard -- OK, this gives me two superstars to build my team around. A pick-and-roll with Lillard and Walton would be unstoppable and the ability of both players to play at clutch time would be tough to beat.
  • Buck Williams -- a bargain on the board. You go ahead and take Rasheed Wallace if you wish. Buck would pick him up and throw him in the Willamette River. A physical presence like no other.
  • Danny Ainge -- A tremendous competitor who knew how to win. A perfect role player alongside the stars of this team. And if you ever need a backup GM, he's your man.
  • Nic Batum -- Another bargain and a perfect fit on this roster because he can defend any position and would be happy with whatever shots he ended up with -- perfect fit.

 

Once again, Danny Ainge proves he's not afraid to bet big on his own judgment

Once again, Danny Ainge proves he's not afraid to bet big on his own judgment

A few thoughts about the blockbuster Cleveland-Boston trade:

  • One thing I've always admired about Danny Ainge: He's got a lot of guts. He always has. He's totally unafraid. And in pulling the trigger on a trade with the team he's trying to beat in the NBA East, he's taking a gamble. In trading his team's best and most popular player he's making an even bigger gamble. And in taking on Kyrie Irving, well, he might be taking the biggest gamble of all. But he doesn't really care what anyone else thinks, he does what he thinks is right. It's the same as the trade he pulled off prior to the draft with the No. 1 pick. He thought Jayson Tatum was the best player in the draft and knew he didn't have to take him with the first pick, so he moved the pick. And he really didn't care what anybody else thought of the deal. The guy has had plenty of self-confidence and courage since the day he started playing basketball. I remember watching him as a high-school junior in the Oregon state basketball tournament and on the football field and marveling at how he laughed in the face of pressure. He seemed totally immune to it and probably still is.
  • In today's world, people running franchises who are willing to make a big gamble or controversial move without worrying about what fans or media will think about it are rare -- and usually worth their weight in gold.
  • Ainge has put a big burden on his coach, Brad Stevens. As well he should -- Stevens is one of the best in the business. But I think Stevens will need to be at the top of his game to find the kind of team chemistry the Celtics had last season. Irving, I've heard, is pretty tough to handle -- for his teammates and his coaches. Getting him to play the team game and keeping him out of calling his own number all the time might be a problem.
  • This deal has long-term ramifications that should not be ignored. Irving is four years younger than Thomas (who is dealing with a hip injury) and in better health. Most people in the league believe LeBron James is headed out of Cleveland after this season and Boston has positioned itself to be the next big thing in the East. Thomas has one year left on his contract and Irving has two years and a player option for a third. Ainge is making a move that's possibly good for this season but definitely good for the seasons after that.
  • Thomas is 5-9 and often listed at 185 pounds. He doesn't look as if he's within 20 pounds of that number, however. Irving is 6-3 and 193. Players as small as Thomas have a pretty rough ride in the NBA -- and I'm not so sure how long he can keep that slight frame healthy enough to carry the heavy load he carried last season. I certainly wouldn't invest in that body with a long-term max deal.
  • Kevin Love and Thomas played on the same AAU team in high school and I'm sure they will play well together. Cleveland will be OK next season if Thomas stays healthy. Of course, behind him is Derrick Rose, another player whose continued good health is no sure thing.
  • I don't know what to think of Irving and his desire to get away from James. But I have a feeling that PLAYING with LeBron is OK, it's just existing with him that's a problem. You hear stories about the entourage, about LeBron basically running the whole organization -- stuff that can't be easy on teammates.
  • The Celtics have reshaped their team coming off what was a very good season. That takes guts. But that's Danny Ainge.

 

Yes, not getting those late rebounds hurt the Ducks, but...

Yes, not getting those late rebounds hurt the Ducks, but...

Oregon's Jordan Bell is obviously going to hurt for a while over not being able to grab two key rebounds off missed North Carolina free throws Saturday night in the NCAA semifinals. But come on, the Ducks would have had to go the length of the court and hit a rushed shot to beat the buzzer in order to win that game. Yes, I know. It's happened before. But...

I'd suggest there are certainly other things that are just as valid reasons for losing that contest. To wit:

  • How about hitting a three-point field goal once in a while? My goodness, the college three-point line is close enough there's really no excuse for not hitting at least 40 percent of them. The Ducks managed to nail just seven of 26 (26.9 percent) of their threes. That's just not good enough.
  • There were 16 turnovers, too. In a big game, Oregon could not afford to give up that many possessions to an outstanding team.
  • For some reason this is not being talked about but it was a huge part of what happened inside the final six seconds of the game. The Ducks had the ball, trailing by three points, when Oregon's Keith Smith popped open for a layup, which he converted, with six seconds to go. Now if Oregon still had a timeout left, or if the college game had the NBA rule where a timeout late in a game allows teams to move the ball to the front court. that would have been fine. But really, I'd much rather have seen the Ducks try to find an open three-point shot. Tie the game right then and there. But that late, going for a two -- even a near-certain two -- still leaves your team a point short. And I didn't feel, at that moment, there was enough time left to get that single point. Oregon got incredibly lucky that the Tar Heels could not make one free throw in four attempts and that kept hope alive. But it was a faint glimmer.
  • Yes, I know. The NCAA tourney has seen a couple of golden moments when players, Tyus Edney and Danny Ainge come to mind, scrambled the length of the court in a few seconds to win a game at the final horn. But we don't as easily remember the countless other times when such a mission failed.

This was the worst game Oregon played in the entire tournament and North Carolina certainly deserves some credit for that. But the Heels didn't play well, either, and the Ducks had a lot to do with that, too. Tough ending to a terrific season. The farther you go in a tournament, the more it hurts to lose.

And as you've probably heard before, losing hurts more than winning feels good. I just don't think Bell should bear the brunt of those feelings.