New documentary looks back at Portland ‘Jail Blazers’

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 9:27 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - It was an era of Trail Blazers basketball that never quite lived up to its full potential and the ‘Jail Blazers’ moniker was one the franchise took some years to shake.

FOX 12 recently spoke with a filmmaker who just released a documentary on YouTube with a pair of Rip City’s biggest stars more than two decades ago.

Tim Livingston grew up as a kid in Los Angeles.

“I gravitate towards the irreverent, unfiltered, former basketball player,” Livingston says.

A Lakers fan with an appreciation for a certain era of Trail Blazers basketball.

“I didn’t really realize the cultural significance of that ‘Jail Blazers’ team until a couple of years ago,” Livingston says.

The ‘Jail Blazers’ are the focus of a documentary that Livingston directed for ‘Underdog Fantasy Sports.’

“I got to know Rasheed and Bonzi through the podcast, ‘Whistleblower,’” Livingston says.

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Podcast to film with friends, Bonzi Wells and Rasheed Wallace are the main subjects of the piece.

“The trials and tribulations they had with the local media at that time and with the police, were really indicative of some cultural and societal problems that we are still dealing with today,” Livingston says.

The ‘Jail Blazers’ mini-doc was uploaded to YouTube to view for free last week.

“I am excited for a lot more people to understand this side of Sheed and Bonzi, Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells, that they have never seen before,” Livingston says.

Bonzi is now head coach of Lemoyne-Owen, a division two HBCU program in Memphis, Rasheed was last an assistant coach with the Memphis Tigers in 2022.

“These guys are so passionate about basketball,” Livingston says. “They love this game so much. That was the shame with this era, that got lost, these guys were incredible basketball players that were really passionate on the court.”

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Damon Stoudamire was supposed to be in the documentary but when they shot it six months ago, ‘Mighty Mouse’ was an assistant with the Boston Celtics when head coach Ime Udoka, another Portlander, was suspended for the season.

Stoudamire, a Wilson High grad, is the new head coach of the men’s program at Georgia Tech.

You can view the full mini-doc by clicking here.