Blazers on bucket list for one local retiree

Longtime fan makes her visit to watch Blazers play live

By Erik Gundersen, Columbian Trail Blazers writer

Published:

 

PORTLAND — The Blazers may have lost, but it didn't stop a few elderly basketball fans leaving the Moda Center from feeling like winners.

Marjorie Gregg, 84, called Marge for short, went to see the Blazers play the San Antonio Spurs last month with six other members of the Van Mall Retirement center, including 103 year-old Cleda Abourezk.

They all had seen the Blazers play before.

But not Marge, a fan since the team's inaugural season in 1970, who had going to a Blazers game on her bucket list.

The closest Gregg came to seeing the Blazers in person was when she attended the victory parade following the team's 1977 NBA Championship.

"My daughter and I went to their victory party when Wally Walker (reserve forward for the 1977 championship team) picked her up and brought her on the trucks they were driving in," Gregg said.

Her husband wasn't a big sports fan, but Gregg watched all of the games she could on TV.

And even though there have been lean years, and the team hasn't won a playoff series in 13 years, Gregg has been with them through the thick and thin.

"I follow them no matter what. There was a while there that they were pretty bad, but they're still all really great," she said. "I even liked Rasheed Wallace. People didn't like him, but I did."

She fondly refers to the 1977 team as "the Dream Team," and like most Blazers fans, she loves it when they beat the Lakers.

She speaks glowingly of this year's team, which has exceeded nearly every expectation placed upon them.

"This team is a wonderful team, I love it," she said.

But then she clarifies: "Thanks to Lopez."

While she loves Robin Lopez, she still finds it hard to like anyone more than LaMarcus Aldridge.

What stood out to the longtime fan who had only seen her favorite team through the TV screen?

"How skinny those guys are! They don't look that skinny on TV. They look so skinny," Gregg said.

Abourezk's love of basketball began when she was a student at Jefferson High School in Portland, where her husband played.

"Basketball was kind of my first love as far as watching," she said.

Fred Rogers, 81, last saw the Blazers play at the Memorial Coliseum in 1978 but has recently been following the team again and is a big fan of Nicolas Batum.

Lora Stoudt, 83, and Donna Parsons, 79, had attended quite some time ago and remembers the Clyde Drexler glory days fondly.

All of the residents have also been captivated not only by this team's success, but how they play.

"It seems like they have a lot of charisma together," Parsons said. "They're happy this year. I've never seen LaMarcus smile as much as he smiles this year."

They were thankful they saw the game, especially since they almost didn't make it.

Lori Adkins, who works at VanMall Retirement Center, came through with timely directions on the road and was resourceful when it turned out the tickets they had received were not senior friendly.

It was a scramble, but everything was finally sorted out before the starting line-ups were announced.

"It takes a team to make things work together," Adkins said. "Sometimes things don't go as planned and you just have to work together to make it work."

A few days after the game, Rogers was scrolling through pictures on an iPad and Abourezk and Gregg both wore smiles on their faces talking about the game.

Not one was mad about the outcome. Not one cared that the Spurs didn't play Tim Duncan and Tony Parker or that Aldridge was injured.

It was just a night that Marge, Donna, Fred, Cleda, Lora, Juanita and Barbara all had a lot of fun.

"It's one of those things I've always wanted to do," Gregg said. "Now I can take it off my bucket list."

"But now I just want to go anyway."