It's roughly 12 hours after I learned of the passing of former Blazers Center Kevin Duckworth.... and I'm still in disbelief. It just seemed like it could have been prevented. The tragedy of Duckworth's passing brought tears to my eyes at numerous parts of the day. I first met "Duck" about 18 years ago....right at the peak of the Blazers run in 1990.
He owned a house directly across from William Walker Elementary in Beaverton. It was a palace...and everytime I went to Beaverton...I stopped by to catch a glimpse of his house.
Strange, I know....but it was REALLY NICE for 1990! I happened to see Duck shooting hoops in his backyard one day....and when he saw me pull up...he thought I was somebody else. I told him I was a big Blazers fan...and told him he was doing a great job. Simple enough, right? All I remember from that point forward was the enormous smile he gave back my way. I could tell that meant a lot to him. (And, let's be honest, everybody thought Portland would have at least two more NBA titles if Sabonis was around instead) I won't disagree with that one bit.... but I did appreciate Duckworth's work ethic. He put in a solid effort every night...and his teammates loved him. That's what I admired most about him. He enjoyed simple compliments---even from a punk 19-year old. Once I got into broadcasting--particularly here at KGW--I always wanted to hook back up and see what Duckworth was doing these days. This thought came about 2 years ago when I heard he lived on a ranch in Estacada. We never got around to it...and I feel somewhat guilty about it now. Fans loved Duck for his easygoing nature....and Duck loved 'em all right back. Thoughts to everyone who had the joy of ever meeting this "gentle giant".