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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not much of a story

I have only one personal Kevin Duckworth story. It was the heyday of the Drexler Blazers, and I sat at the next table from Duck at a fancy Sunday brunch -- I believe it was in the restaurant at the then-still-pretty-new Riverplace Alexis Hotel.

The guy was huge. He was there with a young gal of about the same age, whom he absolutely dwarfed.

In those days, I ate and drank all I could at any sort of all-you-can-eat deal, and that midday meal was no different. Duck, however, seemed a little out of place, and as I recall he wasn't chowing down very hard at all. He was quiet, and the rest of the hoops fans in the place were like us -- we left him and his guest to their food.

A lot of geezers like me talk about how great the Blazers would have been if they had been able to get Arvydas Sabonis out from behind the Iron Curtain while he was still in his prime. "They would have beaten Isiah and Jordan. They would have had three rings." But we had Duck -- close, but no cigar.

That's a lousy place in history for a guy to wind up. Today's a day for thinking about the Blazers that were, not the ones that could have been. The runs that the team had in Duck's era were magical, and the team has not been the same since. Sports fans should leave it at that, and let the guy's friends and colleagues help us remember and mourn the person rather than the stat sheet.

The O has some photos posted here, but the guy who knows more than any of us about the story sums it up here.

Comments (5)

When my dad went to a Blazer's v, Utah Jazz game in the early 1990s, I made him a sign to hold up that read: " A duck is worth more than all that jazz". I once read that Duckworth liked cats and took in some strays; that endeared me to him. I can also relate to depression and comfort eating. What a shame to lose him.

I saw him in an elevator at the Rose Garden a few years ago. I didn't know who he was at the time. My first thought was that there was mountain in the elevator with me. My next thought was that he was so-o-o-o funny. He was cracking jokes with his companions and made the rest of us in the elevator laugh out loud. As a person who has struggled with her weight for many years, I thought his attitude, in spite of his weight, was inspiring. Rest well, Kevin. And thank you.

Is it endeared him to me? so i can't communicate. I try.

I worked out in the same gym as Duck back in the 90's. He was a great guy who always found time to converse with folks no matter how trite the questions or comments. I was always impressed how a person could be so rich, talented and physically immense, yet be so humble.

Truly sad to see him go.

Well... When you get to the level of the NBA Finals and Conf Finals, there is no forgiveness. That's just what it means to be at the top of the top. Jersey Boy Jason Kidd is going to have to live with it too.

I don't think Blazer fans fully respect the mental insanity it takes to compete there. It's like being a rock star. If you're not insanely full of yourself in that situation, the stress of the realization that you are there can be huge. That's why you have players that perform great, but have playoff "curses." Duck was the kind of player Blazer fans love to venerate as "having class," but he was appropriately criticized for his failure to perform at that level. It's a paradox. If Duck liked to get high and go to tit bars, but had career numbers in the post-season that landed the Blazers a few NBA titles, would he be a legend now? Probably.

He was the weakest (starting) link on those '89-92 teams. He probably did cost the Blazers a championship, but he was very accessible as a celebrity and was very low key about joining under-privileged school kids in NE on the court and inspiring them in life. Maybe there are some people out there now who found strength in Duckworth to succeed in school and be successful in life, and will pass that down to their children. I bet there are. In that respect, Duck was a champion.

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