Blazers Notebook: Rose Garden crowd treats Roy like royalty

Former All-Star given standing ovation by adoring Blazers fans

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

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PORTLAND — It is doubtful that the Rose Garden has ever become so loud during the second quarter all year. And there was not even any basketball taking place.

Tuesday night, for the first time since announcing his retirement in December, three-time All-Star Brandon Roy walked back into the building where he used to star.

Joined by his wife, Tiana, Roy’s appearance was meant as a means to surprise his good friend Jamal Crawford, Portland’s backup shooting guard.

As he walked toward his courtside seat across from his the Blazers’ bench, the arena’s sound system blared the “Rocky” theme music, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation that lasted at least a minute.

He then seemed to point to Crawford, and was greeted by Joel Przybilla, who put his arms out as if to say, “What are you doing here?”

“It was good to see him, Przybilla said. “He had a smile on his face. I just wish we could have gotten a win for him.”

Neither Crawford nor any of the Blazers knew that Roy would be making an appearance. As a result, it had its intended effect.

“He surprised me,” said Crawford, Roy’s good friend from Seattle who turned 32 Tuesday. “It means a lot. He’s someone who is loved here for sure. I think it was even more meaningful for the fans who got to see him for the first time.”

Roy, who declined to speak with reporters, stepped out midway through the second quarter and did not return until the fourth. Wesley Matthews said he was hoping to converse with him during a timeout or deadball, but that, “He was gone,” before the opportunity arose.

Roy missed 33 games last year due to degenerative knees that forced his retirement at the beginning of the season.

But his brief showing Tuesday did generate some nostalgia.

“It was kind of surreal thinking about the Blazers without him,” said Matthews, adding that, inside the locker room, Roy was “just another brother. Seeing him on the other side of the court, it was cool. It was real cool.”

Healthy Schonely paid tribute

Nearly one month ago, former Blazers broadcaster received the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame’s Curt Gowdy award — the highest possible honor for a basketball broadcaster.

Tuesday night, he was finally healthy enough to talk about it.

Just as Schonely got news of his Hall of Fame enshrinement, he was enduring the early stages of acute bronchitis, an illness that left him bed-ridden for weeks. There was a time when the 82-year-old said he was so sick, that he “didn’t know what was going on.”

“It felt like I had been kicked in the chest by a mule,” Schonely said.

But now “The Schonz” said he is “96 percent” healthy and finally able to take in the magnitude of the honor. Asked if this was the highest he’d ever felt in his career, the Mayor of Rip City gave an emphatic yes.

“As a broadcaster, absolutely,” Schonely said. “Dick Enberg called me. He’s in the Basketball Hall of Fame, and he said that if that (receiving the Gowdy Award) happens to you, that’s the pinnacle.”

Schonely spent 27 years as the Blazers broadcaster, joining the team before its inaugural season in 1970. He said his favorite call “was that afternoon in June” in 1977, when Portland won its only championship.

Among those who called him with congratulations were Marv Albert, Terry Porter, Mike Breen and Kevin Harlan — and the Rose Garden jumbotron played a video that feature tributes from Bill Walton, Clyde Drexler and Rick Adelman among others.

Schonely was sporting his 1977 championship ring on his right hand Tuesday, and said he wants to stick around to see another one.

“So they better hurry up,” Schonely said.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com