He stuffed that baby

Bill Schonely, the beloved voice of the Portland Trail Blazers, is gone. He died Saturday. He was 93 years old.

Many tributes are pourng in, and rightly so. As Vin Scully was to baseball around the English-speaking world, so the Schonz was to basketball around Portland. He was way more than just a gifted announcer. He instilled a love of the game, and the team, to a degree that no one could ever top. His commentary, especially on the radio but also on television, lent an excitement to even routine games on dark, wet weeknights in the dead of winter. His successors, capable workmen though they have been, don't come close.

Lots of play-by-play sportscasters have signature phrases. There's a guy who yells out "Bang" every now and then. Marv Albert had "Yes!" and "From Downtown." One latter-day Blazer guy used to scream "Boom shaka laka" at least once a game. But they never hit higher notes than the Schonz's familiar calls did. 

And he had so many! There was "Rip City," of course, signifying a shot swishing through the net. That one eventually became a nickname for the team, and even for the whole town. But there were plenty of others, and they have lived on long after he retired from the broadcast booth.

A Blazer player driving down the lane: "Lickety-brindle up the middle."

A Blazer jumping high for a rebound: "He climbed the golden ladder."

A Portland fast break with a couple of passes: "Bingo, bango, bongo!"

When an early-game Blazer lead started to sag: "Nobody said it was gonna be easy."

A special player: "Mercy, mercy, Jerome Kersey."

And toward the end of a contest, when the Portland foul shots weren't going in: "You've got. To make. Your free throws."

If you're like me, you can still hear Schonely delivering these lines whenever you're watching hoops. I'm probably leaving out a few, but they'll come to me some drizzly night with a game on. Is there any greater tribute to the guy's career? So long, Bill, wherever you may be.


  1. It's Lickety-Brindle

    1. Whatever it means.

    2. I have corrected it from "prindle." I almost wrote "Pringle."

  2. Growing up with the Schonz I just took it for granted that was how a game was called. During the horrible and unnecessary lockdown, they were replaying Schonely broadcasts and then I realized how special he really was. Happy Trails-blazers

    1. Please take the "horrible and unnecessary lockdown" crap elsewhere. Thanks.

  3. Why oh why did I read this right now? Damned you Jack. I am turning off my computer now. I can’t take it any longer.....the last real link to the old Portland is now gone.

    I have been dreading this day for years, and I refuse to shed any tears just yet. I am too tired, and I need sleep.

  4. My connection to the Trailblazers goes back to the near beginning. I remember when they were just starting out, and seemingly playing the same teams over and over. I had all of those funky early 1970’s trading cards and knew the names of all of the players.

    It was pretty lean times with the team until “Blazermania” hit, and the whole city became as one. And Bill Schonely was our captain leading the way. His broadcasting skills are legendary, so I am not going to bore people here.

    He, along with Paul McCartney, are the only two people during my lifetime that I would had killed to have lunch with, just to hear their stories. I am afraid it is up to only Sir Paul now to fulfill my dream.

    I am not sad for Bill, as he led a long and fulfilling life. I am sad though for his loved ones and the extended Blazer family. A once in a lifetime talent and personality who graced us with his presence, and with his many examples of what it took to be a great man. I only wish that I could live up to his examples, but I am much too flawed.

  5. You said it, Jack. An all-time great.

  6. One of the things I like about THE SCHONZ is that he didn’t need PR cover to explain who he was. He was the real deal.


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