As part of the kickoff to the 2013-2014 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers have sent the ceremonial game ball for their home opener on the “Rip City Relay,” a five-day trip across the state that will include a stop in Newberg on Friday before arriving at the Moda Center (formerly the Rose Garden) for Saturday’s contest versus the San Antonio Spurs.

Blazer fans and personalities have signed up to walk the ball for segments of the Olympic-torch-style relay, which began Tuesday morning with a press conference on the boardwalk in Coos Bay.

The tour schedule includes stops in Reedsport, Waldport, Newport, Otter Bay, Lincoln City and Grand Ronde before reaching McMinnville.

Friday’s portion of the relay will begin at Linfield College and travel up Highway 99W with a police escort. It is scheduled to come through Dundee at approximately noon before ending at Mabel Rush Elementary School, where a special assembly featuring mascot Trail Blaze the Cat will be held at 1:30 p.m.

According to Newberg Public Schools spokeswoman Claudia Stewart, the assembly will address fitness, perseverance and excellence, and include the presentation of awards recognizing those qualities among the staff and students.

The public is invited to join former Blazer Brian Grant for a 6 p.m. viewing party of Portland’s second regular season game versus Denver at Ye Olde Pizza Shoppe.

From Newberg, the relay will go through Beaverton Saturday before finishing in Portland at 5 p.m. for a pre-game celebration outside the arena.

The tour will include segments walked by Blazers personalities, including legendary broadcaster Bill Schonely, and representatives from health and dental insurance company Moda Health, which bought the naming rights to the Rose Garden for a 10-year period in August.

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