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Friday, January 26, 2007
Rip City, if only for one night
I never attended a live Blazers game as a kid. While I had those old Oregonian cut-out posters hanging in my bedroom and even a copy of "Rip City Rhapsody," I never made it down to the Memorial Coliseum. While I watched plenty of barn-burner home games on television, I never saw one live. In later years during the Rasheed Wallace-era I caught a few games but they were always tedious, mid-season blow-outs against sub-mediocre teams.
I went to the Rose Garden for a late-season loss to the Utah Jazz last year and it was probably the most unpleasant few hours I'd spent at the Rose Garden since a painful Van Morrison/Bob Dylan team-up concert in the late '90s. The Jazz whipped the Blazers and most of the crowd was gone by the start of the 4th quarter.
But Wednesday night was a different story. A colleague and I were sitting up in the 200-level. This game against the "Timberpuppies" was tight all the way through and the crowd, which had honestly managed to fill a mere 2/3s of the stadium, was completely into it. We had high school kids dancing in the aisles and blimps shaped like SUVs dropping gift certificates* from the rafters. It felt like the old games I had enjoyed vicariously on KGW but with thumping baselines coming out of the overhead speakers instead of Queen (although the Rose Garden did break out Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll part 2" during a time-out).
With a minute left and the Blazers down by three, a few people in attendance started heading for the exits. Throughout the game, movie clips aired on the stadium's JumboTron over the court, re-edited to include the team's mascot. They had one great one left, a clip of John Belushi's rally speech from Animal House. "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?" No, sir, it sure wasn't and "Blaze" the Blazer mountain lion seemed to agree as he ran out of the room with the rest of the Deltas.
A pair of last minute free-throws from Zach Randolph sent the game to overtime. Our attempts to start a "spay and neuter your pets" chant failed miserably though, as did the shorter, simplified, more accessible "neuter those Timber-puppies!" Kevin Garnett's 31-points weren't enough to take the game, the Blazers won and my voice was shot by the end of it all. I'm still hoarse two days later.
It was nice to have "Rip City" back, if only for a little while, and before Paul Allen inevitably moves the Blazers to Seattle. I'm thinking this will happen by the 2009 season, unless a miracle keeps the Sonics up there or another franchise moves in.
* Sorry for the pitiful cell phone photo of the SUV blimp. This is probably the worst one I've ever run on this blog. Hooray! A new low!