Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No More Duck Hooks

Former Portland Trail Blazers center Kevin Duckworth passed away Monday night. He was a two-time NBA all-star for the Blazers, the big man in the middle of "the best starting five in the NBA" as Bill Schonely would tell it every night in the glory years of the early '90s. He was an unknown quantity acquired by the Blazers from the Spurs for a complete draft flop, and became an impact player out of nowhere. He had a unique shooting style, which somewhat resembled a shot-putter and he developed a difficult to defend low post game that often included his patented "Duck Hook". In my memory, his most memorable performance was giving the Blazers an emotional lift in game 7 of the 1990 Western Conference Finals, making a surprise return from injury into the starting lineup just moments before tip-off. I've realized that my emotional connection with those early 90's Blazers teams far outweighs anything else I've felt about sports, and will likely continue to do so throughout life. As a kid, you can completely invest yourself in a big playoff run by your favorite team with minimal "real life" events ever coming into play to share in your emotions.

Duckworth was the first person I'd ever gotten an autograph from, and to this day remains the only authentic ("authentic" because I watched him sign it) sports-related autograph that I own. It was more a circumstance of time and place than a need to get an autograph, but I was thrilled to briefly share a table with a real life Blazer player.

Articles, tributes, and information from people that write better than me can be seen here, here and here.

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