Trail Mix: Remembering Wayne Thompson, Moda Center name to stay

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

(AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Happy Friday, everyone. The Blazers just wrapped up a seven game home stand where they went 5-2, helping them keep pace with teams like Utah and Houston in the lower tier of the Western Conference playoff race. They’re currently 1/2 games out of the eighth seed in the West. But we’ve done a pretty good job of keeping you updated with the stuff on the court. We’ve missed a few stories off the court.

We’ll start with the not-good news and that is that the Blazers will still call their building the Moda Center despite the healthcare company having fallen on bad times and has been taken over by the state.

Beth Slovic of The Willamette Week reports that the Blazers have no intentions to change the name of the arena.

The company’s naming rights to the basketball arena extend to 2023, however. And the Blazers claim the name is here to stay.

“The Trail Blazers’ partnership with Moda Inc., which includes Moda Health and other subsidiaries, remains strong,” the team tells WW in a statement. “We don’t anticipate any changes in that partnership following the recent news.”

The naming rights deal between the Blazers and Moda Health was reported at the time as being worth near $40 million over 10 years. According to a report from The Oregonian, Moda was forced to borrow $50 million from Oregon Health and Sciences University. But at least they get to keep their name on the arena for the foreseeable future.

The Blazers are also putting on a celebration of life this Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Memorial Coliseum for Wayne Thompson, one of the Northwest’s most decorated writers and reporters who was also the first Blazers beat writer for The Oregonian. Thompson was also the author of “Blazermania” book that reviewed the team’s history on their 40th anniversary.

Wayne worked for 37 years at the Oregonian as a reporter and editor. He covered the Trail Blazers’ inaugural season in 1970 and was a key contributor to telling the team’s story for four decades. Wayne authored the team’s 40th anniversary book – Blazermania – a complete review of the team’s history.

A prolific writer in a variety of subjects, Wayne wrote for several national publications including Time Magazine, Fortune, The Sporting News and Jazz Scene. In addition to his passion for sports, Wayne dedicated much of his life to jazz as a noted musician, advocate and historian.

In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations to the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Society in Thompson’s name.

If you want to learn a little bit more about Thompson’s contributions, Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver talked about Thompson’s contributions and told some great stories with Dirt and Sprague on 1080 The Fan.

Great news if you’re a Blazers fan in the Seattle area: the Blazers will air seven games on the radio in the Seattle area on 950 AM KJR, starting with Saturday’s game at Houston which starts at 2 p.m. local time.

Here are the other six games that will be carried in the Seattle area on KJR: Feb. 19 vs. Golden State, Feb. 21 vs. Utah, Feb. 27 at Chicago, Feb. 28 at Indiana, April 3 at Golden State and April 9 vs. Minnesota.

In some more positive news for the Blazers, they’ve expanded their youth basketball initiatives in partnership with Nike. Their goal, according to a press release sent out this week, is to expand their basketball initiatives in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Here’s some more details about the program and the partnership with Nike that came from that same press release.

Nike will bring the following support to the Trail Blazers’ youth basketball efforts through the five-year partnership valued at more than $2 million in cash and product:

  • Rip City Academy: Nike will partner with the Trail Blazers to provide Nike jerseys, Trail Blazers game tickets, access to coaching clinics, and other affiliation and access opportunities to the Trail Blazers youth program.
  • Basketball PE Kit: Nike and the Trail Blazers will pilot a basketball PE kit aimed at providing PE teachers with equipment, curriculum and training to deliver positive experiences in basketball to elementary school kids.
  • Camps and Clinics: The partnership will increase access to basketball outside of school through summer, holiday, and spring break basketball camps and clinics.


  • Sport for Health Grants: Nike is partnering with the Trail Blazers Foundation for its Sport for Health grants, which provided eight organizations a total of $102,000 in the summer of 2015 and will continue to fund nonprofit organizations in 2016 to encourage kids and families to be active.

NBA trade rumors are also starting to heat up, with the trade deadline now less than two weeks away. Let’s first go to one that has caught the attention of Blazers fans regarding the Milwaukee Bucks and Greg Monroe, who was a Blazers target in free-agency.

Let’s begin with why it could work. Monroe would give the Blazers a low-post scoring threat that they do not have on the roster. But I think we have to ask a more important question: do they actually need it? Is a post-up to Monroe any better than a shot that you can get on a pick and roll with Lillard or McCollum?

I haven’t done any of my own reporting on this, but from afar, I just don’t see it. The Blazers nearly had Monroe over the summer and although they have a ton of cap room, why would they give up assets to pay a one-way player a max deal? The Blazers don’t have the defensive infrastructure to cover up Monroe’s flaws and it would be a good acquisition in name only.

The biggest name that has been rumored to be moved is Clippers forward Blake Griffin. There’s been rumblings about trade discussions between the Clippers and Nuggets about Griffin, but the Clippers were not interested in talking the deal, according to Dan Woike of the Orange County Register.

Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical has reported for weeks that this season for the Clippers is a make or break season. Friday he reported that if the Clippers fail to make a leap and Doc Rivers decides to break up the core, that Blake Griffin will be the first to go.

The situation with Griffin’s hand and him being out for a few more months have only increased the noise.

It’s unclear what the market is for Griffin, but its safe to say he’ll net much more in a package than Monroe.

The chatter around the deadline is starting heat up and we’ll try to keep you updated on that front.

Here’s a late add to the Trail Mix but a very important one. Dane Carbaugh, host of Baseline Rewind, is doing things for Blazersedge again and did an excellent breakdown of how far Al-Farouq Aminu’s 3-point shot has come since coming to Portland.




Erik Gundersen

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's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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