It was the seminal moment when “Blazermania” came to life - the 1977 NBA Championship win by the Portland Trail Blazers
That crown remains the lone title in franchise history, and players from the ’77 team were at the Moda Center Wednesday where the club honored the World Champs with a 40-year reunion.
The ’76-77 season was the Blazers first year in the playoffs, with the team knocking off Chicago, Denver and the Lakers before a six-game finals series with the star-studded Philadelphia 76ers
Rip City was red hot and rolling then, and the guys have never lost touch with how important the achievement was and still is to “Blazermaniacs.”
It is team history that has never been repeated, in more ways than one.
“We were trying to remember how our total payroll was, and we think it was just over a million dollars,” forward and former first-round draft pick Wally Walker said.
Despite the late ‘70s payroll, the guys have priceless memories.
“When that happens in your life, things are never the same,” Hall of Famer and former Blazers center Bill Walton said. “I have spent the rest of my life trying to chase that down again.”
“The journey that we took together created what we have,” point guard Lionel Hollins added. It’s like steel.”
While the friendships were made of steel, the championship rings were made of gold.
“I wear my ring every day, and I once again look back with fond memories,” small forward Corky Calhoun said.
The Trail Blazers achieved basketball nirvana, and they credit the fans as being a big part of it.
“This town was just incredible. The fans were just incredible,” forward Robin Jones explained. “That was something that they shared. That was something that they were a part of.”
The 10 surviving members of the world championship roster gathered for a pregame luncheon at Dr. Jack’s at the Moda Center.
Jack Ramsay, their Hall of Fame head coach, and late teammates Herm Gilliam and “the Enforcer” Maurice Lucas are always in their hearts and minds.
“Jack was made for us and we were made for Jack,” Hollins said.
“He was the best coach I ever played for,” Calhoun added. “Very organized, very educated man and he knew how to treat individuals as individuals and get the most out of them.”
Even as they remember lost friends, the Blazer greats celebrating Wednesday were looking forward to more fun ahead.
“I’ve learned a few things, 40-years is a long time and two, the stories get a little better every year,” Walker said.
“It changed my life forever and I am forever grateful, I am the luckiest guy in the world,” Walton agreed.
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