Sports

Lin-sanity? Blazer Fans Have Seen It Before

Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times reminds us that before Lin-sanity, there was Blazers legend Billy Ray Bates.

Bates made a Jeremy Lin-sized splash on the NBA in 1980, arriving by way of an impoverished childhood in Mississippi and the CBA. Writes Kelley:

“That night in Milwaukee, Bates scored 14 fourth-quarter points and led a late Blazers charge that fell short. The next night in Chicago, Ramsay called on Bates early. He scored 26 in a two-point loss.

“At 6 feet 4, 220 pounds, Bates could drain a flat-footed 30-footer on one possession, then hammer a dunk over a helpless center on the next. He practically carried the Blazers into the playoffs in 1980 and averaged 25 points in a first-round loss to the Sonics.

” ‘He couldn’t remember the plays. It used to make Ramsay so angry,’ Bates’ longtime friend, Rick Barrett, said by telephone from New Jersey. ‘But he could win you games.’ “

Alas, Bates quickly devolved into a cautionary tale. But he has never been forgotten by anybody who followed the Blazers at that time.