Current, former Blazers find lots more than basketball to keep them in Portland area
by: Mike Fiala AFP, Former Blazer forward Brian Grant lives in West Linn with his wife and four kids. The area’s beauty and, especially, the people are what keep Grant and his family in the Portland area permanently.

Enough Trail Blazers -past and present - live year-round in the Portland area to field several basketball teams.

For various reasons -including the friendliness of the people to the mildness of the climate - a lot of Portland players choose to stick around or return to Rip City. They often branch into a new career and raise a family.

A great example was Kevin Duckworth, the popular Blazer center from 1986-93 who died Monday in Lincoln City, where he was to give a scheduled free youth basketball clinic. 'Duck' had a home in Tualatin and was working as a boat broker.

Here's a look at players, in addition to Lloyd Neal, who have settled here (with their Blazer playing seasons in parentheses):

• Rick Adelman (1970-73)

Age: 62 Hometown: Portland Profession: head coach, Houston Rockets Married: To Mary Kay, with six children

An original Blazer, Adelman has spent much of the last four decades living in Oregon.

After his playing career ended in 1975, Adelman spent six seasons in Salem while coaching at Chemeketa Community College. He moved to Portland in 1983 as a member of Jack Ramsay's Blazer coaching staff. Adelman became head coach and stayed until 1994, when he left to take the Golden State job. He returned in 2006, when he was out of coaching for a year. He continues to makes his year-round home here, where five of his children live.

Adelman: 'We were always going to make Portland our home. It was just the natural thing to do, with so many of our kids living here. You have to get used to the weather again when you've been away from it for a while, but the summers and the quality of life are so good. It's an area we love, the people are great, and it's a comfortable place for us. We're Oregonians.'

• Steve Blake (2005-06 and 2007-current)

Age: 28 Hometown: West Linn Profession: Blazer guard Married: To Kristin, with one child

Even after Blake was traded from Portland to Milwaukee (and then Denver) before the 2006-07 season, his family kept its home here.

Blake: 'We fell in love with the neighborhood we lived in, loved the new friends we'd made. Another thing about Portland, it's a great place to raise a family. We really love it here.'

• Kenny Carr (1982-87)

Age: 53 Hometown: West Linn Profession: Owner, Carr Construction Married: To Adrianna, with three children

A Washington, D.C., native, Carr kept the nation's capital as his offseason home for his first three years as a Blazer, and then made Portland his home full-time. He started Carr Construction in 1986.

Carr: 'When we first bought a home here, the family was beginning, and we couldn't keep dragging the kids cross-country. It gave our kids an opportunity to grow up in a city where there's not so much hustle and bustle as in D.C., or in Detroit, where my wife is from. She's the outdoors type - skiing, snowshoeing - so it's perfect for her. It's not a huge city, but big enough. And the weather is great in the summer and fall.'

• Dan Dickau (2003-04 and 2006-07)

Age: 29 Hometown: Battle Ground, Wash. Profession: Guard for Avellino (Italian League) Married: To Heather, with two children (and a third on the way)

A Prairie High grad and a lifelong resident of Southwest Washington, Dickau and his wife - a former Blazer dancer who was his high school sweetheart - bought a house in Vancouver after his rookie season but built on property in Battle Ground two years ago.

Dickau: 'I've been with a lot of teams, and we've seen just about every place in the country, and there's no place (like Portland) that compares. If you can put up with a little bit of rain in the winter, the summers are amazing - no humidity. You can't beat it anywhere. After the good experience I had at Gonzaga, we talked about maybe living in Spokane. But this is where we grew up, family is here, and we're going to stay in Vancouver.'

• Terry Dischinger (1972-73)

Age: 67 Hometown: Lake Oswego Profession: Orthodontist Married: To Mary, with three children

Except for the year and a half when Dischinger finished dental school in Memphis after retirement as a player, he has lived in Portland since 1972. He has had his practice in Lake Oswego for more than 30 years.

Dischinger: 'I grew up in Indiana. I love the people, but not the winters there. We were looking for a place to settle down. I was playing in Detroit, and we were thinking Phoenix and hoping I'd get traded there. Then (ex-Blazer General Manager) Stu Inman called me and said, 'Terry, we're interested in you. I think you'd love Portland, and the people out here love their basketball.'

'The Blazers traded for me, and Stu's wife, Elly, got my wife involved with a whole bunch of people in the community - just a great group of people. The kids loved the area. Great school system. After we'd been here a short time, we decided this is where we wanted to live forever. I've been in a lot of places, and I can't think of a better place in the world to live. (Portland) has been wonderful to me and my family in so many ways.'

• Chris Dudley (1993-97 and 2001-03)

Age: 43 Hometown: Lake Oswego Profession: Executive, M Financial Wealth Management Married: To Chris, with three children

A San Diego native, Dudley married a Portland girl and decided this was the place they wanted to raise their children. He has been a senior vice president of M Financial Wealth Management for two years and is in his 13th year operating a nationwide camp at Vernonia for children with diabetes.

Dudley: 'My wife being from here is a factor. We love San Diego, but it has tripled in size since I grew up there. There is a great quality of people here. We feel like our kids are watched out for here. I love the appreciation people have for the outdoors, the environment and what we have available to us here. We live on a golf course, we're two minutes from a lake, five minutes from a river, an hour from the mountains and beach and 15 minutes from downtown. You don't have that in too many places in this country.'

• LeRoy Ellis (1970-71)

Age: 68 Hometown: Columbia City Profession: Manages condos for Income Property Management in downtown Portland Married: To Zera, with six children

The original Blazer center returned to Portland nine years ago after stints in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. His children grew up here and he played many years for Portland's East Bank Saloon in national age-group basketball tournaments.

Ellis: 'When you're young, you like excitement. L.A. is excitement. There are a whole bunch of problems that go along with that. Portland is a quiet community. We live in Columbia City by St. Helens. I like the peace and quiet. You get to know a lot of your neighbors. In L.A., you don't know the person who lives next door. Portland was good when I was here raising my kids. It's even better now that I'm older.'

• Channing Frye (2007-current)

Age: 25 Hometown: Portland Profession: Blazer forward Single: No children

A Phoenix native who played at the University of Arizona, Frye has chosen to live in Portland year-round. He has a South Waterfront condominium.

Frye: 'I kind of fell in love with the city. It's one of the best in America. I'm located close to the coaching staff, so I can work with them year-round. That will help me become the best I can be next year. I love being close to downtown. I go out everywhere and do a lot of different things outside. Portland's boring enough that I can get into the gym every day, and still go out and play some golf or sit outside.'

• Brian Grant (1997-2000)

Age: 36 Hometown: West Linn Profession: Retired Married: To Gina, with four children

Grant says he fell in love with the Portland area during his stint with the Blazers. He bought a home in West Linn in 2005 with the idea that it would become his family's permanent home. The Grants recently moved everything from their home in Miami to Oregon. He would like to hook on with the Blazers, 'perhaps something in community service.'

Grant: 'I knew we were going to move back to Oregon eventually. It's the people here more than anything. Of course, the area is picturesque, with Mount Hood and the other mountains, and it's a wonderful place for our kids. But mostly, it's that the people are a lot nicer than anywhere else. I've been looking forward to being here full-time for the past couple of years.'

• Bob Gross (1975-82)

Age: 55 Hometown: Happy Valley Profession: Construction Married: To Cindi, with two children

Other than for a six-month stint in San Diego after he retired as a player, Gross has been a Portland resident since coming onto the scene as a rookie. He is vice president-business development project manager for Lorentz Bruun Construction.

Gross: 'We liked San Diego, but my wife's family is here. I've grown to enjoy the weather, the change of seasons, the fact we don't have real hot summers. I'm comfortable here. My kids grew up here. This is more home to me than anywhere else.'

• Shaler Halimon (1970-71)

Age: 63 Hometown: Portland Profession: TriMet driver Single: One child

An original Blazer, he has remained in town most of the time since his playing days.

• Michael Harper (1980-82)

Age: 50 Hometown: West Linn Profession: Insurance Married: To Lisa, with three children

'The Grasshopper' settled in Portland permanently after his pro basketball career ended internationally in 1987. He was hired as the Blazers' speakers bureau director for two years (1988-90) and in 1991 started a State Farm Insurance agency in Portland.

Harper: 'My wife is from Portland, so it was an easy call for us. I'm from Chicago, and I like the pace of life here much better. It's been an excellent place for us to live and raise our family.'

• Antonio Harvey (1999-2001)

Age: 38 Hometown: Tualatin Profession: Broadcaster Married: To Kim, with two children

Harvey, a native of Pascagoula, Miss., has made Portland his home since joining the Blazers in 1999. After a short, ill-fated stint as coach of the American Basketball Association Portland Reign, Harvey - whose eight-year NBA career ended in 2003 - joined the Blazer broadcasting team as radio analyst in 2005.

Harvey: 'It's the family atmosphere that attracted me to Portland. The town I grew up in was very family-oriented, and everything revolved around that. In Portland, there's more rain, but just as much sunshine. Outside of my hometown, there's no place I'd rather live.'

• Michael Holton (1986-88)

Age: 47 Hometown: Portland Profession: Insurance Married: To LaShell, with three children

Holton has made Portland his home since 2001. After retiring from pro basketball in 1991 and returning to UCLA to complete his degree, Holton worked in the clothing business for a year. After stints as an assistant coach at Pasadena City College, the University of Portland, Oregon State and UCLA, he served five years as the Pilots' head coach. Last October, he opened a State Farm Insurance agency in Portland. Holton also is part of the Blazer broadcasting team and runs a summer basketball camp.

Holton: 'Portland has always been my favorite city. Even when I left the Blazers as a player, we kept a home in Portland most of the time. We'd always come back in the offseason. We have always felt a part of the community and really liked it here.'

• Steve Johnson (1986-89)

Age: 50 Hometown: Portland Profession: Real estate Married: To Janice, with four children

Johnson has been a Portland resident since leaving Oregon State in 1982. His wife's father, Stu Inman, was general manager and director of player personnel for the Blazers. Johnson has held several jobs since retiring as a player in 1991. For the past three years, he has sold commercial real estate with RE/MAX Equity Group.

Johnson: 'I knew this was where I wanted to end up. My wife's family is here. We knew this was where we were going to live. Portland is a great place to raise a family.'

• Freddy Jones (2006-07)

Age: 29 Hometown: Lake Oswego Profession: Pro basketball player Single: No children

The Barlow High grad has kept his offseason home in the Portland area since leaving the University of Oregon.

• Jerome Kersey (1984-95)

Age: 46 Hometown: Happy Valley Profession: Auto wholesaling Single: One child

Kersey has never left town since arriving as a Blazer rookie in 1984. After his 18-year NBA career ended in 2001, he has worked as director of player programs with the Blazers and spent a year as an assistant coach with Milwaukee. He is a consultant for Premier Sports International, has an auto wholesale business and serves as an ambassador for the Blazers.

Kersey: 'I always knew I'd stay here. As a player, I got ingrained in the community. And I just the love the physical beauty of this area of the country - the same kind of beauty as where I grew up in Clarksville, Va. I love the greenery, the trees, the landscapes. My daughter lives here, and I love the people of Oregon. I've enjoyed everything about it.'

• Kevin Kunnert (1979-82)

Age: 56 Whereabouts: Kunnert lives in the Portland area and has a nonpublished phone number. No more details could be obtained.

• Maurice Lucas (1976-80 and 1988)

Age: 56 Hometown: Tigard Profession: Assistant coach, Blazers Married: To Pamela, with three children

Since 1988, Lucas has made Portland his permanent home. He held several jobs in 'corporate America,' the latest as co-owner of a data processing company. He served one season as an assistant coach under Mike Schuler and Rick Adelman (1988-89) and has served as an assistant under Nate McMillan since 2005.

Lucas: 'I enjoyed Portland then, and I do today. My kids grew up in Portland and had a nice childhood. It's been a real nice place to live.'

• Tom Owens (1977-81)

Age: 59 Hometown: Lake Oswego Profession: Real-estate and financial investments Married: To Lydia, with two children

Since joining the Blazers, Owens has maintained a residence in the Portland area.

• Jim Paxson (1979-88)

Age: 51 Hometown: Portland Profession: Scout-consultant, Chicago Bulls Single: Two children

Paxson has been a full-time Portland resident for a major portion of the three decades since he arrived as a Blazer rookie. After retiring as a player in 1991, he spent a year working for Upper Deck in San Diego, then moved back and worked in a variety of posts with the Blazers until 1999, when he became general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers. After being fired by the Cavaliers in 2005, he moved back to Portland.

Paxson: 'The Portland community has always embraced the Blazer players. For me, it's been a combination of the people here and the beauty of the Northwest. Pretty near every place I've owned or rented in Portland has had some view of the mountains or the water. When you grow up in Iowa, where it's flat and there's no scenery, you appreciate that. On a nice day, there's no better place to be.'

• Cliff Robinson (1989-97)

Age: 41 Hometown: Hillsboro Profession: Retired Married: To Heather, two children with wife, seven children total

A Buffalo native, 'Uncle Cliffy' took to the milder Northwest climate immediately and has lived here for two decades. Robinson retired after the 2006-07 season following an 18-year career. He missed the playoffs only once and scored 19,591 points. He would like to get involved in coaching in the NBA.

Robinson: 'I played here for eight years. The fans were great to me, and I established a lot of good friendships over here. It's a nice place for my children to grow up. I love camping and doing the outdoor things here in Oregon. It's been kind of like the perfect fit.'

• Dale Schlueter (1970-72, 1978)

Age: 62 Hometown: Tigard Profession: Registered representative, Financial Benefits Resources Married: To Jeni, with three children

An Army brat who lived in many parts of the world as a child, Schueter got sold early on Portland, where he has lived for 38 years. He works with an independent financial group.

Schlueter: 'I flew up from San Francisco (after being taken in the NBA expansion draft), breathed the clean air and made the decision I was going to stick around. It's still a small town, although we do have our challenges with traffic nowadays. A short drive in any direction and you can get out in the country and away from it all. I like the climate - not too cold in the winter, not too hot in the summer.'

• Greg Smith (1972-76)

Age: 61 Hometown: Tualatin Profession: Radio national sales manager Married: To Linda, with five children

Smith has lived in Portland since joining the Blazers in 1972. He is national sales manager for six stations with Salem Communications.

Smith: 'I tell people, I never had enough money to move away. When you retire, you look about and see all the major cities you've been in. Portland is not a bad place to stop and raise a family and get a job and start learning a trade. That's what I did. When I was with Houston (in 1972), I asked the coach (Tex Winter) to trade me to either Portland or Los Angeles. I got traded to Portland and felt comfortable with the city and the people I met.'

• Larry Steele (1971-80)

Age: 59 Hometown: Portland Profession: Basketball camp director Married: To Britt, with three children

An almost original Blazer - he was a rookie in the franchise's second year - the Bainbridge, Ind., native and former Kentucky standout has chosen to live in Portland since 1971. A former head coach at the University of Portland, Steele continues to operate the Larry Steele Summer Basketball Camp at Vernonia (it's in its 21st year). He and his wife oversee the Cedar Ridge Retreat and Conference Center in Vernonia, live on a floating home on the Willamette River and pursue studies in yoga and ayurvedic medicine. They will leave in November to live in Bali for six months.

Steele: 'The first thing that has kept me here is the type of people who live in the Portland area. You combine that with the environment and the natural beauty of the area, and it wasn't a very hard decision.'

• Ime Udoka (2006-07)

Age: 31 Hometown: Portland Profession: San Antonio Spurs player Single: With no children

The Jefferson High grad and former Portland State standout is a lifer in Portland. Even while playing professionally in Spain and France in recent years, Udoka has always kept a place here.

Udoka: 'It comes down to having a comfortable home base. I've been on the move for about the last decade playing professionally, but I've never moved away. When you travel around the country, you see how unique our city is. I have family here, I like to go to PSU to work out. … This is where all my people are at, family and friends.'

• Darnell Valentine (1981-86)

Age: 49 Hometown: Tigard.Profession: Executive, Precision Castparts Corp. Married: To Cindy, with one child

Valentine has maintained a home in Portland since arriving as a player in 1981. After 10 years in the NBA and three years playing professionally in Italy, he retired in 1994 and spent 10 years as a regional representative for the NBA Players Association. He then served 2 1/2 years as the Blazers' director of player programs before being laid off in 2006. He now is assisting supervisors in boosting the production of the workforce at Precision Castparts.

Valentine: 'Coming from Wichita, Kansas, it's pretty self-explanatory why I've always found Portland more appealing. I could have lived other places, but I like the quality of life, the moderate weather, and more than anything, what I had as a player in terms of a relationship with the fans and the support system here. I'm an Oregonian through and through.'

Other ex-Blazers in Oregon

Danny Anderson (played for Portland from 1974-76) has retired to Bend after 30-plus years living in Portland and working as a home builder. 'We wanted to get to a place where the sun shines a little more,' says Anderson, who moved to Bend 2 1/2 years ago.

Darrell Imhoff (1971-72) has lived in Eugene for 13 years after living in Hillsboro for many years. Imhoff serves as vice president of marketing for Elite Sports Promotions, which services the U.S. Basketball Academy along the McKenzie River.

Recently moved

Steve Jones (1975-76) has settled in Houston after living in Portland a major portion of his life. The Franklin High and University of Oregon product worked for nearly three decades with Blazer Broadcasting.

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