By Joe Becker
It was only fitting that Kevin Duckworth's memorial service was held at the Coliseum. The big man, who helped lead the Blazers to the NBA Finals twice in the 90's, passed away this week on the Oregon coast.
Duckworth spent some of the best moments of his life at the Coliseum...and this morning's service was very special. One by one, friends and former teammates stepped up and told stories and expressed their love for Duckworth. It's very obvious that Kevin touched many, many people in his short life of 44 years. Former teammates Terry Porter, Buck Williams, Jerome Kersey and Clifford Robinson were there...and a video message from Clyde Drexler. Terry, Buck and Jerome all spoke and it brought back memories for many of us.
I arrived in Portland in 1984. It was Jerome's first season with the Blazers and Clyde's second. Terry joined the team a year later...and Duck in 1986. I covered those teams and those special years of Blazers basketball. Those players had a unique bond in professional sports. They played hard, they won...and they made all of Portland proud. During this morning's ceremony I had flashbacks to those years and it made me feel good.
The Blazers are back to the good old days. The organization is once again first class...with great leadership at the top and a great team in the making. One of this morning's speakers was Duckworth's friend C.W. Taylor, who said Kevin was a happy man during his final days "He's so happy with the new staff here", Taylor said, "because the old staff would not give him the time of day..and you guys included him and his last days were very happy. Because you had him doing what he wanted to do, which was to be with you guys."
The Blazers did a fantastic job honoring Kevin...and Duckworth deserved it. Former Blazers President Harry Glickman brought up a stat concerning Duckworth, those special Blazer teams and the Coliseum. Those players never played a single game in the regular season and playoffs that wasn't sold out. The fans loved those teams...and the love poured out for Duckworth this morning, from the fans, friends and Blazer Family.
Once again, it was another special moment at Memorial Coliseum, one I'll always remember.