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Remembering when the Trail Blazers became NBA champs; West Coast League cancels season, Pickles hope to play anyway; IndyCar returning

PMG FILE PHOTO - The 1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers.• When the Blazers were champions — Forty-three years. And you think this pandemic is dragging on?

Friday, June 5, is the 43rd anniversary of the Portland Trail Blazers' winning their only NBA title.

For those of us who were around then (i.e., old folks), the memory of Bill Walton throwing his jersey into the crowd remains vivid. Also vivid is the way that Jack Ramsay-coached team moved the basketball.

The Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 109-107, on that Sunday afternoon to clinch the series in six games. It was a tense, back-and-forth-battle in an emotional series that included a Game 2 fight between Maurice Lucas and Darryl Dawkins in Philadelphia that saw fans pour onto the court.

In the clinching game, Walton had 20 points, 23 rebounds, eight blocked shots and seven assists. If he had stayed healthy, we probably wouldn't be writing about a 43-year title drought.

But, like so many Blazers' big men, he didn't. So Portland's time atop the NBA was brief.

Still, watching Game 6 of the 1977 finals would be a good weekend activity. Find it on your favorite way-back machine (or on YouTube). Enjoy the way the Blazers played the game. Chuckle at the 1970s clothes and hair styles. Critique a young Brent Musberger's play-by-play for CBS.

We promise it will make you smile.

• WCL cancels season — The West Coast League officially called off its 2020 season on Friday, citing pandemic-related travel restrictions and safety guidelines that will limit the size of crowds throughout the summer.

The Portland Pickles still plan to try to play an independent schedule at some point this summer. The Pickles hope to have details about their plans later this month.

The West Coast League announced that the 2021 season will begin on June 4 and that a club in Nanaimo, British Columbia will join the league next season.

• IndyCar returns — The latest sport to return is IndyCar. The Genesys 300 happens at 5 p.m. Saturday on NBC television from Texas Motor Speedway.

Qualifying will be shown on NBCSN at 2 p.m.

The IndyCar Grand Prix of Portland remains on the schedule for September 13 at Portland International Raceway.

• PCC player dies — Chris Bendle, a guard on the Portland Community College men's basketball team, died in a car accident on May 28 near his hometown of Scappoose.

Bendle redshirted last season after averaging 3.7 points per game as a freshman in 2018-19. He was 20 years old.


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