Sports & Society Blog Post #3
Rip City Goes Wild
Damian Lillard made the shot of his career to beat the Houston Rockets propelling the Blazers to the 2nd round of the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. The reaction from the people of Portland was tremendous.
Portland is fairly unique in the sense that it is a large city but only a one (big) sport town. We have and love the Portland Timbers but soccer is not on the same scale as basketball, baseball, or football in the U.S. Basketball is returning in Portland and it is a big deal. When asked about the shot, Lillard said “The most exciting thing was just to see how everybody reacted to it. You got to see how valuable that game was, how much it meant to everybody, how much it meant to see that ball go in and to win that game—from the fans to the coaches to the training staff to the ball boys to our team. That’s what made me feel the best about it.” Lillard saw the reaction Portland had and loved it. We haven’t had a big moment in Blazer history for a long time.
Geertz wrote that “cockfighting is a part of ‘The Balinese Way of Life’” (1972: 2) and basketball is the same for a Portlander. Just like cockfights brought the whole village together, Portland rallies to support to the Blazers at the Rose Garden. This is why the resurgence of basketball means so much to the city and why Lillard’s shot was so significant. He became an instant legend. His shot mirrored Brandon Roy’s buzzer beater against the Rockets in 2008 and Lillard’s teammate LaMarcus Aldridge said “he’s definitely in the Brandon Roy category for me” when speaking on Damian. This is huge praise since Brandon Roy helped the Blazers start being competitive again and is worshiped as a hero by Portland. The Rose Garden is considered one of the toughest stadiums to play at because the Blazers play incredible at home with their fiercely loyal, and loud, fans.
People like to be a part of something bigger than themselves and sports often create that opportunity. Portlanders are proud to be a part of Rip City. The phrase Rip City was first said by announcer Bill Schonely in a first season game against the Lakers. He didn’t know what caused him to say it but the term stuck. Now it is a tradition and honor to be a Rip City member. While the blazers haven’t been good for a while, Portland fans have to stay loyal since there is no other comparably sized team in Portland. That dedication paid off when Lillard made that shot and Rip City went wild.