Michael Jordan

Trail Blazers Classic Games have us reminiscing about Memorial Coliseum

Trail Blazers Classic Games have us reminiscing about Memorial Coliseum

I don't know about you, but having a chance to relive a handful of Trail Blazers classic games has been helping me get through the NBA hiatus.

It’s been fun to watch the best of the best from the Portland Trail Blazers.

Re-watching Game 4 of the 1992 NBA Finals battle between the Blazers and Chicago Bulls, makes me realize once again how intimate it was to witness a game at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland.

During the Game 4 broadcast, NBC’s Marv Albert mentioned it was, “hot and humid in Game 3,” in the Coliseum.

There’s no doubt arenas have come a long way and so has their air conditioning. Most arenas are frigid these days. 

When Portland was named as an expansion city back in 1970, the Memorial Coliseum became the team's home court. Its seating capability for basketball games was 12,666.

After the 1992 NBA Finals, construction began on the Rose Garden/Moda Center.

It wasn’t until 1995 that the new arena would open.

But man, there were so many great memories in the old building.

Three NBA Finals were played in the Coliseum. Of course, Portland won it all in 1977 -- that was probably the most memorable moment. Portland also played in the Finals in 1990 and 1992.

Not to mention, the 1992 Tournament of the Americas welcomed in the Dream Team to the Memorial Coliseum.

With the feeling of the fans right on top of the court, homecourt advantage was pretty special in the Memorial Coliseum.

Watching the 1990 NBA Finals Classic game earlier this spring, re-airing on NBCSNW, that game had many in Rip City reminiscing about what it was like to watch games in that building.

As part of the Blazer’s 40th anniversary celebration, they played a preseason game at Memorial Coliseum on October 14, 2009, when the Phoenix Suns made a visit to Portland. And then to celebrate the franchise’s 50th Anniversary this past season, the Blazers hosted the Denver Nuggets at the Memorial Coliseum on October 8th of this season for an exhibition game.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts had memories flooding back to him before that preseason contest.

Portland has always been a great venue. Whether it’s here or at Moda Center. It’s sold out. The fans are always good… It was a tough place to play. – Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts back on Oct. 8, 2019

And, it wasn’t just great basketball played in the Coliseum.

From November 30 through December 2 in 2007, the Memorial Coliseum hosted the 2007 Davis Cup Tennis final between the USA and Russia.

Plus, we haven’t mentioned the superstar musical performers that put on shows at the Coliseum.

  • The Beatles (1965)
  • Led Zeppelin (1970, 1972)
  • Elvis Presley (1970, 1973)
  • The Bee Gees (1979)

There’s so much history within the walls of the VMC. I just wish I would've been able to watch an NBA Finals game in that building.  

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

How to watch: Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals Game 4

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How to watch: Trail Blazers vs. Chicago Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals Game 4

It’s time to tie up the series with this Trial Blazers Classic Game!  

Despite Michael Jordan’s 32 points, the Trail Blazers evened the series at 2-2 after outscoring the Chicago Bulls 27-19 in the final quarter of Game 4.

The Trail Blazers beat the Bulls, 93-88 in front of a sold out Memorial Coliseum crowd in Portland and now you can re-live that Game 4 feeling on NBCSNW tonight.

Throughout the early 90 seasons the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bull seemed destined to meet in the NBA Finals.

Of course, many comparisons were made between Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan throughout the season much to the chagrin of Jordan himself.

Before the two met in the 1992 NBA Finals, Sports Illustrated had named Drexler, Jordan's "No. 1 rival."

There was so much hype surrounding this series.

The Blazers began their 1992 postseason run by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 3–1 in the First Round and then proceeded to beat the Phoenix Suns 4–1, following that up with outlasting John Stockton and Karl Malone's Utah Jazz 4–2 in the Western Conference Finals. 

This was the Blazers second trip to the NBA Finals in three years.

Portland got out to a slow start in Game 4 similarly to the way they played in Game 3.

Jordan scored 13 of his 32 points in the third quarter, but he didn’t score at all in the final 10 minutes of action as Portland went on a 15–6 run to earn the come from behind victory.

The Bulls would go on to win the series in six as MJ was named Finals Most Valuable Player for the second year in a row.

During the 1991-92 season Drexler earned All-NBA First Team honors, while Buck Williams was named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team.

Starters for Game 4 of the 1992 NBA Finals:

CHICAGO

Michael Jordan

Horace Grant

Bill Cartwright

Scottie Pippen

John Paxson

PORTLAND

Terry Porter

Jerome Kersey

Clyde Drexler

Buck Williams

Kevin Duckworth

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.

Channing Frye clarifies Michael Jordan comments, shares hate messages

Channing Frye clarifies Michael Jordan comments, shares hate messages

Thirteen-year NBA veteran Channing Frye made a bold claim on last Friday’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast and people are still talking about it. 

On the latest podcast at NBC Sports Northwest, Frye stated his reasoning for why he wasn’t a Michael Jordan fan growing up and why he believes that his former teammate LeBron James is higher on his G.O.A.T. list.

Frye also made this comment that had many talking:

He only had really one job. And that was to just score. And he did that at an amazing, amazing rate. But I don’t feel like his way of winning then would translate to what it is now. Guys wouldn’t want to play with him. -- Channing Frye on Talkin’ Blazers

Since those remarks, Channing hasn't backed down, but he has received a lot of hate along the way. 

Now after a few days since the comments came out, it seems like a good time to clear the air.

Frye joined Fox Sports Radio’s ‘The Odd Couple with Chris Broussard and Rob Parker’ to expand on his recent comments about MJ’s game. 

Frye clarified his stance, saying that he views LeBron and Jordan as "1A and 1B" in the G.O.A.T. discussion.

My personal opinion right now is that for me, growing up, I felt like Jordan was the originator of everything that we have now. I was always tall, for me, I looked up to players that were like me, right? I respect him. And for me, he is either 1a or 1b -- always in the discussion. But, if we are talking about players that I have played against, that I have seen, that I have physically gone to battle against, it would have to start with guys like LeBron, like Kobe. -- Channing Frye on Fox Sports Radio

Broussard and Parker then stopped Channing right there because they felt he was backing down from his original comments.  

To that, Frye said he wasn’t backing down, but that in terms of LeBron being the greatest that ever played, Frye added:  

“I’ve always said he is 1a or 1b… You can’t go wrong with either one of them…. I played against him and played with him.”

Frye did learn something after being trolled on social media for his comments and then trolling the haters right back.

“What I found out about this Jordan-LeBron thing is no matter what scenario you come up with it’s almost impossible… Like, someone today literally cussed me out saying, ‘oh you don’t think Jordan could [average] 50 points in this league.’ I said, ‘no, I don’t think he would’ve scored 50 points. Do I think he would’ve been up there with the James Hardens and the Kevin Durants? Absolutely. Do I think he would be unstoppable in the playoffs? Absolutely.’ But, for a man to average 50 points, these are hypothetical scenarios… He dominated his era. He created a door for everybody that’s playing now, right? -- That wouldn’t have had it without him. That is hands down always going to be his,” Frye said.

Frye reiterated that because he saw what LeBron is capable of firsthand in Cleveland that has helped him to believe LeBron should be either 1a or 1b.

[RELATED]: Channing Frye’s claim on Michael Jordan fact checked and the results weren’t pretty

Broussard and Parker put Frye to the test when they continued to pressure him with this sports debate.

But, Frye enjoys these types of heated discussions.  

“These arguments like this, I could do this all day. I’m not like LeBron is number one -- Jordan is not. That is not at all what I’ve ever said. That’s not me as a person. I just like who I like. I’m always going to roll with LeBron just because he was my teammate and I’ve seen his body of work.”

Listen to the FULL INTERVIEW RIGHT HERE

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

Damian Lillard doesn't have to be like Michael Jordan to be a leader

Damian Lillard doesn't have to be like Michael Jordan to be a leader

When “The Last Dance” finally wound down Sunday night, my first thought went to why Michael Jordan -- after many years of waiting -- chose to release that footage now. Or why release it at all?

And my best guess is that he saw it as a way to show those who watched him play -- and those who didn’t -- just how very good he was.

Mission accomplished. This was the highlight film of all highlight films, a 10-hour sizzle reel. The difference between Jordan and LeBron, as you could see, is like ballet vs. tap dancing.

I think, too, it was a chance for Jordan to address a lot of the knocks on him over the years. The gambling -- no big deal. The years outside of basketball fiddling with baseball, just living out a childhood dream and a wish of his late father. And the tough love for his teammates? The only way those teams would ever have won. And an example of his great leadership skills that were responsible for the Bulls’ success.

I will allow most of that, but not the last part. Not the leadership part. His way has never been the only way or the best way.

He was a bully. And you don’t have to be a bully to be a leader. And I hope somehow that obvious message survived this documentary.

At the time of Jordan's success, it didn’t, you know. Jordan’s public dressing down and outright humiliation of his teammates became a thing for a while during his heyday.

I watched it filter down from the pros, to the colleges and even to high schools, as young players thought Jordan’s success gave them license to treat their own teammates in the same belligerent manner.

And it was all built on the false narrative Jordan used to justify his ugly behavior -- it was the reason the Bulls won. I also watched media members then, as now, endorse it as a necessary evil.

But it wasn’t.

And of course, in “The Last Dance” the producers found plenty of players, some of them probably still intimidated by him, to say that even though “he was a jerk,” it was the reason Chicago won. His teammates admitted to actually fearing him, but the justification was winning.

As if those players were such a pack of losers that mentally abusing them was the only way to get the best out of them.

Woody Hayes and Bob Knight succeeded in the same manner as coaches, but I think we learned over time that style is not acceptable. And it's not sustainable in the long run.

I wonder if Jordan is running his Charlotte franchise in this manner. Whatever he's doing, it isn't working.

A good part of the leadership of that Bulls squad came from the calmness and intelligence of the head coach, Phil Jackson. But the 10-part opus was shaped to spotlight Jordan as the captain of that ship.

Which was obviously important to him.

What would be important to me, is that Jordan's form of leadership doesn’t catch on again. After five weeks of glorifying that behavior on this enormously popular show, that's a possibility. In fact, it WILL happen somewhere.

But by its nature, "leading" is striking out in a prescribed direction and getting others to follow you. Not because they have to, but because they want to. Don’t hold a gun to their head, put motivation in their heart.

Just watch Damian Lillard. He leads by example, of course, but also with an uncanny ability to figure out exactly what each of his teammates needs -- on the court and off. And then he attempts to supply it.

To be a great leader, you don’t have to be like Mike. You can play the game like Dame.

Should Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas' tiffs been made out to be such a big deal?

Should Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas' tiffs been made out to be such a big deal?

Watching The Last Dance, ESPN’s documentary on Michael Jordan, there have been numerous topics to digest and debate.

The documentary has kept the NBA community together on social media as fans, as well as current and former players and the like all comment on the series.

One big topic of conversation in Episode 5 was the ongoing feud between Jordan and Isiah Thomas. 

And of course, the series covered the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team," which Thomas was noticeably left off the team.

For years, there has been speculation that Jordan kept Thomas off the team with some believing he threatened not to play if  Thomas was on the team.

Jordan denied that in the documentary.

"You want to attribute it to me, go ahead, and be my guest. But it wasn't me," Jordan said.

On this week’s Talkin’ Blazers Podcast, our own Channing Frye, NBA Champion and co-host of the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast alongside Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, discussed the Isiah Thomas snub from the Dream Team.  

Fyre believes “tiffs like that happen” and he “doesn’t think you have to like someone for them to be on the team.”

What it comes down to is that Frye wants The Last Dance to stick to basketball and less about the drama surrounding the players.

All these excuses are coming up and they just seem petty. And, it takes away from the overall story. To me, all the story is – is you’re really good at basketball – ‘Dennis Rodman tell me more about that.’  -- Channing Frye on this Talkin' Blazers Podcast

During his interview on Thomas in The Last Dance, MJ did at least mention how much he respects Thomas' game.

"I respect Isiah Thomas' talent," Jordan said in The Last Dance. "To me, the best point guard of all-time is Magic Johnson, and right behind him is Isiah Thomas. No matter how much I hate him, I respect his game."

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

Channing Frye doesn’t coin Michael Jordan as the G.O.A.T

Channing Frye doesn’t coin Michael Jordan as the G.O.A.T

The great debate of who is the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ lives on.

Now more than ever, with ESPN’s The Last Dance premiering with new episodes each weekend documenting Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, many sports fans are deliberating who indeed is the greatest basketball player ever to play the game. 

MJ? LeBron James? Wilt Chamberlain? Magic Johnson?

Our own Channing Frye, NBA Champion and co-host of the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast alongside Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon, is the next to give his opinion on the G.O.A.T.

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t a Jordan fan. I’m from Phoenix [Arizona]. I’m a [Charles] Barkley guy, a Kevin Johnson guy, I’m a ‘Thunder Dan’ [Dan Majerle] guy. So, as much as everyone is shocked, I never had Jordan on my top player of all time anyways… I have LeBron above Michael all time. — Channing Frye 

Before his 14-year playing career in the NBA, Frye tore through the state of Arizona in both high school (St. Mary’s School) and college (University of Arizona, 2002-05). In his four-year career with the Wildcats, Frye averaged 13.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. 

No doubt about it, there is a heavy argument for both sides as to who is the G.O.A.T: Michael Jordan or LeBron James. 

It’s unfortunate that the two were never in the league at the same time as one another. 

That would have been quite the show. 

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

LeBron or MJ best of all time, or are they forgetting someone else?

LeBron or MJ best of all time, or are they forgetting someone else?

ESPN released a list of the NBA’s 74 greatest players and, of course, the big argument is at the top, where Michael Jordan is ranked No. 1 and LeBron James is No. 2.

I will say first, I would rank Jordan ahead of James but I wonder if ESPN would have, too, if it didn’t happen to be airing Jordan’s “Last Dance” documentary right now.

I’m not even totally sold on either of them being No. 1.

There is a real lack of understanding about how important talented centers were in the history of the game. For decades, if you didn’t have a great center, it was almost impossible to win a championship.

I watched teams take the floor against squads led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Wilt Chamberlain and it was a hopeless situation. You could not stop them. There was nothing you could do.

Chamberlain was an athlete unlike anyone playing today -- a 7-2 LeBron James. When I hear people talk about Shaquille O'Neal being the best combination of speed and power in the game, I just laugh. Wilt would have dominated him. He was an all-around athlete (high jumper, 440 runner and world-class volleyball player) the likes of which few NBA players have ever been. And for all the points he scored, he once led the league in assists.

And even though Bill Russell won all those championships, he wasn’t the player Wilt was. I believe most people who rank him higher than Chamberlain did not see them play. Russell was a defensive genius and a leader, but did not have Wilt’s offensive skill. It wasn’t even close.

But Russell played for the Celtics, a great franchise with a great coach, surrounded by Hall of Fame teammates. That matters.

Abdul-Jabbar caused the colleges to outlaw the dunk just so they had a chance against him. But they couldn’t ban his skyhook, so there was still little chance of stopping him.

The problems with ranking the all-time best players in the history of any sport are many, And that’s why it can be so controversial.

A lot of the people doing those rankings didn’t even see many of the players on their list actually play, Or they rank players based on how many titles they won -- which was very often beyond the control of an individual player who landed on a hopeless franchise with no leadership... and no free agency to bail himself out of those situations.

Then, of course, there is the problem of comparing different eras. The three-point line had an enormous impact on the way the game is played, once coaches were able to commit to using it to its full potential (which took way too long).

And then there are the people unwilling to give players from the past a chance to be able to develop in modern systems that allow more and better weight training, nutritional guidance and salaries high enough players didn’t have to worry about an off-season job selling insurance.

In today’s game, Jordan obviously would have shot more three-point field goals. Wilt and Russell were both quick enough to get out on the floor and defend pick-and-rolls.

And players from previous eras such as Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, Geoff Petrie, Walt Frazier, Elvin Hayes and Elgin Baylor would have all starred in this era.

So make up whatever list you want -- but please pay respect to history and perhaps rank only the players you’ve actually seen and discard whatever myths you’ve heard about the others or the eras they played in.

Because you really don’t know.

Michael Jordan’s response to Gary Payton became an instant meme

Michael Jordan’s response to Gary Payton became an instant meme

Episode 8 of ESPN's docuseries on Michael Jordan, "The Last Dance," focused on the 1996 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Seattle Supersonics.

Which, in the Pacific Northwest just makes fans think about how much they miss the I-5 rivalry.

Can we just bring the Soncis back already?

Okay, but back to episode 8. 

After Jordan heard what Gary Payton told the documentary’s producers about his philosophy to "tire out" Jordan and how Payton wished he had guarded MJ sooner in the series and then maybe the Sonics wouldn’t have fallen into a 3-0 hole, Jordan had a good laugh.

The Glove explained that his defense "took a toll" on Jordan. 

“A lot of people back down to Mike,” Payton said. “I didn’t. I made it a point, I said, just tire him out, tire the **** out of him. You’ve just got to tire him out and I kept hitting him, and banging him, and banging him, it took a toll on Mike, it took a toll.”

And that’s when the laughter from Jordan ensued. 

[RELATED]: Michael Jordan wasn't exactly fair to his old teammate Scottie Pippen 

Jordan and the Bulls went on to win the ‘96 Finals in six games with MJ averaging 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists per game on 41% shooting.

After watching Jordan’s reaction to The Glove, there was no doubt that social media was going to take the "laughing Jordan" and turn it into a meme.

Yes, first there was the "crying Jordan" meme. 

And then, there were two different versions of "crying Jordan," which MJ acknowledged during his speech at Kobe Bryant’s Celebration of Life in Feb.

 

And now there is this and people are loving it…

 

The truth:

It’s hard to deny that Jordan my not just be the greatest to ever play the game of basketball, but he may just be the best to play the meme game too.

But really, there have been a plethora of memes from the eight episodes of The Last Dance.  

And to think, there are still two episodes to go.

But, I think we found a winner: 

Listen to Steve Blake's appearance on the Talkin' Blazers podcast here.

Michael Jordan wasn't exactly fair to his old teammate Scottie Pippen

Michael Jordan wasn't exactly fair to his old teammate Scottie Pippen

If there was ever any doubt that Michael Jordan is shaping “The Last Dance” to fit his own narrative, it was on display Sunday night.

The documentary went into full detail about Scottie Pippen’s refusal to take the court for a final shot in Game 3 of a 1994 playoff series against the New York Knicks. Pippen was miffed that Toni Kukoc was designed to take the last shot.

It was a terrible mistake by Pippen that marred his career and Jordan made sure to get all of that in the story. But what he didn’t bother to spend any time on was what happened in Game 5 of that same series.

And I didn’t think it was possible to talk about that series without focusing on the foul Hue Hollins called on Pippen as he defended Hubert Davis’ last-shot attempt.

Pippen made contact with Davis, but it was after the shot was out of Davis’ hands -- which, in those days, was never called a foul. These days, it is… but it was considered a horrible, series-deciding call at the time.

And a year later, Darell Garretson, who was officiating on the floor that night with Hollins, had become the league’s director of officiating. And in a rare moment of candor, he did not mince words about what happened:

"All I can say is that it was a terrible call," said Garretson, who retired from active duty at the end of last season. "Any time an official calls a game, he hopes he doesn't make any, but that wasn't the only one."

You can argue the merits of the call all you want, but that play was the turning point of the series and if you’re telling the story of the Bulls without Michael Jordan, that would have been a must. The Bulls fell behind 3-2 in that series and won Game 6, but couldn’t pull out Game 7.

So why didn’t Jordan, who has complete control of the product, insert something about that in the documentary? Well, it might help you understand if you read what Jerry Reinsdorf told The New York Times years later.

“If we had won that game and then the series and gone on to win the title that year, the whole legacy of Michael would have been different,” said Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls’ owner, who recently hired Pippen as an organizational ambassador. “But because Michael had left and came back and then we won again, he was given all the credit, and sometimes it was unfair, especially to Scottie.”

'Last Dance' didn't bother to mention Clyde Drexler's injury prior '92 Finals

'Last Dance' didn't bother to mention Clyde Drexler's injury prior '92 Finals

It’s always important to remember when you’re watching a documentary that you sometimes don’t hear the whole story. You hear what the maker of the project wants you to hear.

Watching “The Last Dance” Sunday night, taking note of how much joy it gave Michael Jordan -- and some of his pals -- to see him work over Clyde Drexler in the 1992 NBA Finals, they weren’t very fair to Drexler.

Just in passing, it might have been nice to point out that the Trail Blazer guard was already having a great deal of pain in his right knee, which would cause him to undergo surgery that summer -- after the Finals and the Olympics.

I won’t make the case that Jordan wouldn’t have still had his way with Drexler, but I do think it’s only fair to point out that Drexler wasn’t himself that season after the injury.

Drexler had cartilage fragments removed from his right knee in September of 1992 and played only 49 games the following season for Portland, after being an iron man for the team prior to that, playing at least 80 games per season five times.

Here is the way Drexler ended the regular season, as described by the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith, who also wrote the best-selling book, “Jordan Rules”:

Seattle, the Trail Blazers` geographical rival, was in Portland last weekend. The Trail Blazers still had a fairly comfortable lead over Golden State and Utah for best record in the conference, but hadn`t clinched yet.

Clyde Drexler, the team`s MVP candidate and best player, had been suffering with turf toe on both feet and a strained right knee. Rest him? Drexler played a grueling 37 minutes and took two hard falls. The Trail Blazers won what might be a Phyrric victory.

Drexler felt pain and the team took him out for the rest of the regular season.

Trail Blazers coach Rick Adelman said Drexler will be fine for the playoffs, but Drexler wasn`t sounding as convinced.

''I didn`t think I could hurt (the knee) any worse by playing,'' said Drexler. ''Obviously, I was wrong. I don`t know how bad the injury is. All I know is there is something that isn`t right. It`s the first time I`ve had this injury. I just hope it gets better before the playoffs start.''

Asked about playing Drexler so much, Adelman said: ''While I was watching him, I started to wonder why he was playing, too. But it was his choice.''

It would have been appropriate sometime during that show to mention the injury to Drexler, who made his career out of his rare athletic ability, which was certainly affected by the injury.

But why let a relevant fact stand in the way of another heroic Michael Jordan tale?