Blazer Banter

Trail Mix: Original Trail Blazer Dale Schlueter Passes Away At 68

Via @trailblazers on twitter

Via @trailblazers on twitter

Friday greetings to everyone. We have a collection of Trail Blazers news and content from this past week in the Trail Mix. We’ll start with the somber news first.

Original Trail Blazer and Team Ambassador Dale Schlueter died on Thursday at the age of 68 after a battle with cancer.

Schlueter was born in Tacoma, Washington and went to Colorado State University before being drafted by the then San Francisco Warriors with the 8th pick in the 6th round of the 1967 NBA Draft.

Schlueter went on to have a 10-year NBA career, playing three seasons in Portland from 1970-72 and in the 1977-78 season.

From a release from the Blazers

Schlueter retired from professional sports in 1978, but remained an active member of the Trail Blazers family through his work in the community.  As recently as last season, Schlueter still frequently led Trail Blazers ambassadors and alumni on appearances and fan visits around the Moda Center on game nights.  He often represented the franchise at charitable events around the city.  His calm demeanor, warm smile and welcome handshake were his trademarks and made him a local favorite.

“We have lost a true Trail Blazers original, and someone whose dedication to our organization and the Portland community knew no limits,” said Chris McGowan, President & CEO of the Trail Blazers and Moda Center.  “Dale represented a very special era for the Trail Blazers when our team was first establishing its foothold in Portland and the Pacific Northwest.  We will miss him and his commitment to being the personification of the name Trail Blazer.”

“He was one of our original players, which affords Dale a special place in Trail Blazers history,” said Trail Blazers Founder Harry Glickman. “For the vast majority of professional athletes, one of the best rewards is personally knowing when you’ve done your very best.  Dale gave his ultimate effort every time he played.  He was a great Trail Blazer.”

“Dale was a living salute to those original days when the NBA first burst upon the scene in Portland and across the state of Oregon,” said legendary Trail Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely.  “You could always count on Dale and his wife Jeni to support the outreach efforts that have made the Trail Blazers so beloved in our community.  I counted him as a dear friend, and will miss him immensely. Dale was a no-nonsense player and a throwback to the great days of our sport.  He played the game as it should be played.  This was indeed his life — the Portland Trail Blazers.”

The Blazers said information on any services for Schlueter will be forthcoming.

Blazers Catch FIBA World Cup Fever

Damian Lillard’s inclusion in the FIBA Basketball World Cup is still to be determined in the Team USA training camp at the end of this month. Wizards point guard John Wall has recently been added to the Training Camp roster, adding competition for Lillard to make the squad. DeMar DeRozan and Chandler Parsons were also added to the camp roster while the Clippers’ Blake Griffin, like LaMarcus Aldridge, withdrew.

However, Victor Claver and Nicolas Batum will both be playing in the tournament for the Spanish and French national team’s respectively.

FIBA.com published a report on the Spanish national team, focusing on Victor Claver’s role on the team.

Spain coach Juan Antonio Orenga didn’t lose faith in Claver, though, and called his name out when announcing the squad earlier this month.

“Victor Claver this year has had a difficult year in Portland but one that has strengthened him mentally,” Orenga said.

“It’s been a year of barely playing after a very good EuroBasket, both in defense and attack, and (he) had little or no court time.

“He’s remained strong both physically and in the head. He is versatile and can play three (small forward) or four (power forward).

“Last year (at the EuroBasket), he responded without playing many minutes (in Portland) and we know that he is healthy and eager to play well.

“I trust that he will do a repeat of last year, and he will have grown up as a player thanks to a lot of individual work done during the year.”

Claver skipped the Blazers summer league this season, saying that with his national team responsibilities it was too much basketball last summer and not enough rest. Hat-tip to Casey Holdahl.

Nicolas Batum has been practicing with the French National team, winners of last year’s Eurobasket tournament.

Also, in non-World Cup FIBA basketball news Blazers assistant coach and Canadian National Team head coach Jay Triano is coaching Team Canada on a tour in Europe.

They’ve been playing in Slovenia. Goran Dragic posted this photo on twitter at dinner with Triano and Canadian Basketball general manager Steve Nash.

Earlier this week we wrote about the reports of Damian Lillard and other NBA players who were reportedly told they couldn’t participate in an event in Manila, The Philippines.

Lillard took to his official Facebook page to post a message to all of his fans The Philippines, as basketball hot bed. The NBA had a preseason game in Manila last season.

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Sleeved Jerseys 

My Salem-Keizer brother Dane Carbaugh, who will soon be heading to Charlotte to work for the Sporting News (Congrats!), did a nice piece regarding the reception from fans about the Blazers new sleeved jerseys for Blazersedge, where he asked a fan named Mike what he thought of them.

“What do you think of the new sleeved jerseys?”

I’d half-written this column earlier in the week and decided to sleep on it, both for clarity and assuredness of my own opinion. Mike was already settled, his answer swift as his eyes met mine and never wavered. He was not ashamed of his response.

“I absolutely love them,” he said.

To me, the sleeved jerseys represented an ugly, low-class bastardization of a professional attire. It looked like something you could have screenprinted at a local stitch shop, not the culmination of colors and high-tech fabrics that represented the achievement of reaching the upper echelon of sport in America. It reminded me of the shooting shirts we got in high school, a solid department store attempt at boutique-level quality.

Read the rest of the story here.

Finally, a little plug for this week’s Once A Blazer on the great Rod Strickland.  I got a lot of responses from that post. I did not know Rod Strickland had such a passionate following.

Also, according to Blazers VP of Basketball Communications Jim Taylor, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is throwing out the first pitch at Sunday’s Hillsboro Hops game.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

 

 

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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