Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Rip City Basketball Classic


On November 6, 2011, with the NBA lockout still raging on with no end in sight, LaMarcus Aldridge brought together some friends to play a basketball game for charity at the Chiles Center. The so-called Rip City Classic featured a couple future NBA Hall of Famers, NBA All-Stars, a slam dunk contest  winner, home team favorites and a host of others. When I moved to Portland I was excited to live in an NBA city. I would finally get to see my beloved Boston Celtics! Then the stupid lockout happened and that destroyed my hopes for seeing them this year. Hearing about this game from Aldridge's Twitter, I told Jackie we had to go. She was of course down to go with me. Next thing I know I'm buying tickets online and we're getting ready to head out.


Sadly, Brandon Roy was not able to play in the game. And shortly after the season started, he was forced to retire due to excessive knee injuries.

Neither of us had been to the Chiles Center or the area of town where the arena is located. When we arrived, traffic and parking were terrible. We ended up parking in a nearby neighborhood and walking up to the game. It was dark, but the neighborhood reminded me a lot of Las Cruces. The houses were one-story and you could tell there was a mixture of families and college students living there. The Chiles Center is the stadium for the University of Portland, a small Catholic university. We did not get a chance to check out the campus, but from what we were able to glance at, it looks nice, lots of grass (which is always a plus). How do people live without grass and trees all over their campus? (I'm looking at you UTEP...)

We managed to find Will Call and our seats after initially walking the wrong way. By the time we sat down, the game was about midway through the first quarter. Immediately I could feel the excitement of the crowd. It was a sellout. That certainly helped. These people were raring for some basketball. A DJ played music the whole time. Two guys had microphones and kept interrupting with "What!?!" and "Whoa, son!" Or something. They also interviewed people courtside, but for the life of me, I could not make out what anyone was saying. It sounded muffled.




As for the game itself, it was fast paced and involved very little defense or fundamentals. There were tons of highlight plays, from big dunks to no-look passes (although most of the fancy passes ended in turnovers). The two players who put fourth an effort on both sides of the ball also happened to be the two best players on the court, Aldridge and Kevin Durant. In particular, Durant showed some impressive defense, something that is generally considered a lackluster area of his overall game. And, of course, both scored plenty of points. In fact, everyone scored plenty of points. With 12:48 left in the second quarter, the score was 91-79! I've never seen anything like it.

After halftime the game started to zoom by. There were little to no fouls called, and no timeouts really, so it flowed more like a pickup game than a traditional organized one. Then, during a break, a little kid came out and danced the Dougie. And Nate Robinson joined him!



By the fourth quarter, the game had gotten a bit tight and suddenly both teams began to compete harder. Suddenly fouls were called and (some) defense was played. I had the hardest time telling which team was which because for one, the front of their jerseys said the same thing, and for two, the back of every jersey also said the same thing. I could pick out a few of the players from seeing them on television, like Durant, Aldridge, Robinson, Raymond Felton, James Harden and TJ Ford, but I had a hard time with the others. Plus the program did not help too much (it was missing Harden and also had Roy listed when he didn't play). Nobody cared much which team won. At one point the crowd started cheering for the Blazers. That was very cool. I love passionate fans. Nevertheless, one team won (164-157) and it was fun to watch.

Also, there were Teletubbies and they kept leapfrogging each other around the arena. So there you go.





Obviously I don't have a professional camera or one good enough to do sports photography, but The Oregonian has a great gallery from the game.
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