The Portland Trail Blazers have strong Seattle connections — owner Paul Allen, coach Nate McMillan, Brandon Roy and Martell Webster...
The Portland Trail Blazers have strong Seattle connections — owner Paul Allen, coach Nate McMillan, Brandon Roy and Martell Webster, to name four.
For some Sonics fans, the Blazers are their most hated rival. Of course, Sonics fans can’t even be sure their team will be in Seattle beyond this season, so some might be tempted to root for the Blazers.
But then this Seattle vs. Portland debate is nothing new. Which city is best? Some things to consider:
Detlef Schrempf played for both teams. He helped the Sonics reach the NBA Finals. He was washed up by the time he played his final two seasons for the Blazers, and his flattop just didn’t seem as sweet. Plus, best song titled “Detlef Schrempf” is by Seattle’s Band of Horses. Advantage, Seattle.
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Best 7-footer from a former Soviet Republic? Portland’s Arvydas Sabonis gets a big edge over Seattle’s Vladimir Stepania. (Stepania also played one season, poorly, for the Blazers.)
Worst draft pick? The Sonics had a three-year run from 1968 through 1970 of Bob Kauffman (No. 3 overall), Lucius Allen (No. 3) and Jim Ard (No. 6). That’s just not good. But at least they never passed on Michael Jordan to take Sam Bowie (like the Blazers did, in 1984) or made LaRue Martin the No. 1 overall pick (1972). Advantage, Seattle.
OK, enough basketball talk … Each city likes to take credit for the popularity of the song “Louie Louie,” which was written by Los Angeles musician Richard Berry in 1955 and recorded as a calypso song (with little resulting fanfare) by Berry’s group, the Pharaohs, in 1957. Many Seattle/Tacoma bands performed and/or recorded it as a rock song — including the Dave Lewis Combo, the Frantics, Ron Holden & the Playboys, Little Bill and the Blue Notes and, most famously to that point, Tacoma’s Fabulous Wailers in 1961. Portland bands the Kingsmen and Paul Revere and the Raiders each recorded the song in April 1963, the Kingsmen’s version becoming the one you’re probably most familiar with. So, slight edge to Portland.
Both are very literate cities, with great book stores. The best, though, with apologies to Elliott Bay Book Co., Queen Anne Books, Third Place Books and many other fine Seattle stores, is Powell’s Books in Portland.
Ever taken a ferry ride in Portland? Advantage, Seattle.
And you still can’t pump your own gas in Portland, a skill we seem to have mastered here. Advantage, Seattle.
But, Portland’s light-rail system is pretty cool. Advantage, Portland.
Mount Hood. You call that a mountain? Advantage to Mount Rainier/Seattle.
Hipster doofus quotient. Extremely high in both cities. Seem to be more walking the streets of Seattle. Advantage, Portland.
Major-league sports. Well, Seattle also has the Seahawks, Mariners, Storm. This category will be even at two teams each once the Sonics and Storm move to Oklahoma City and Portland gets a baseball team. For now, advantage, Seattle.
How about rock ‘n’ roll shrines? Seattle has Experience Music Project, Portland has the Oregon Music Hall of Fame. EMP is often criticized, and maybe it’s overrated, but at least it’s a real place. The Oregon Music Hall of Fame is just a Web site (omhof.org). Advantage, Seattle.
Trips to the coast? It’s easier to get to Oregon’s more accessible beaches. And once you’re there, you’re not in any danger of being run over by some idiot driving a pickup, which is legal on Washington’s beaches. (Driving on the beach, that is. Not, you know, running over people. That’s still illegal.) Advantage, Portland.
Oregon has a state-income tax, Washington a sales tax. Advantage? Beats me, ask your accountant. But here’s some free advice: Live in Washington, do as much shopping as you can in Oregon.
So there you have it. Wait, what were we talking about? Oh yeah, the Sonics and Blazers, Seattle vs. Portland. We’ll let the teams settle it on the court — they play four times this season, the first meeting in Portland, on Christmas.
As for this whole Seattle vs. Portland thing, that’s an ongoing debate we’re not going to be able to settle today.