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Celebrating the life of a Trail Blazer: Broadcaster Bill Schonely

Schonely passed away in January. He called Blazers games for three decades.

PORTLAND, Ore. — People that encountered legendary Portland Trail Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely during his time in Portland helped celebrate his life at Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland on Monday afternoon.

In attendance were former players like Bill Walton, Terry Porter and Chris Dudley and current star Damian Lillard, among others.

"Bill was the Blazers," Dudley said during his remarks. "He was the Mayor of Rip City and had been there from the beginning."

Lillard talked of the relationship the two forged when he first got to Portland more than a decade ago.

"He spoke that life into me from Day 1," Lillard said. "Put me in that kind of history to me that just showed the pride he had being part of Rip City and this organization."

Schonely was the first voice of the Blazers and was courtside calling the game when the team won the championship in 1977.

He was known for his catch phrases. Former Trail Blazers guard Terry Porter shared a few.

"'Bingo, bango, bongo.' 'Climb the golden ladder.' 'Got to make your free throws.' I've heard that a few times. Sometimes I made them, sometimes I didn't," Porter said. "And the last: 'Rip City, baby!'"

Walton said Schonely is the reason the Trail Blazers exist and called him the most important Blazer of all. For the fans, Schonely gave them more than commentary about basketball.

"I just wanted to pay my respects to a great man," said one fan in attendance.

Current Trail Blazers broadcaster Kevin Calabro said that as impressive as Schonely was as the voice of the Blazers, he was an even better person.

"I can tell you that Bill’s talent was unmatched," Calabro said, repeating the word 'unmatched' for emphasis. "But his friendship and caring nature were always the most important aspect of the man."

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Schonely.

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