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November 25th, 2009 CASEY JARMAN | News Stories
 

Trail Mix

This holiday weekend, give thanks for your other family: The Blazers.

     
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Q&A: Kevin Pritchard

No need to panic over key home losses, the Blazers’ GM says.


PRITCHSLAP!: Blazers GM Kevin Pritchard. ILLUSTRATION: Adam Krueger

Trail Blazers General Manager Kevin Pritchard is not a guy you want to play poker with. He can bluff and charm with the best of them, and he—from all accounts—drives an incredibly hard bargain when it comes to his Trail Blazers franchise. But he’s warm, too: Pritchard hails from Indiana but spent much of his career in Texas, giving him that rare combination of Midwestern ease and Southern charm. With an easy smile and a pat on the back, he can make new acquaintances feel like old pals. Consequently, his business partners probably don’t realize they’ve been hoodwinked until it’s too late. And the guy gets just what he wants out of an interview.

WW: What letter grade would you give the Blazers so far this season?

Kevin Pritchard: We try not to evaluate on a short period of time. It’s too small a sample. But I’m really happy with the way we’re defending—[we’re] among the top defensive teams in the nation. Last year, we were in the top three or four offensive teams, and we haven’t changed a whole lot, so I think that will come back. But, you know, team identities change. Right now we’re becoming a very good defensive team, and we’re very proud about that.

So, what would you say to fans who are panicking after watching a couple of home losses?

Well, it’s important to focus on how you’re playing. The wins will come if we’re playing the right way. We’re getting good shots, and defensively we are improving. There’s no need to panic.

Where do you see Greg Oden among the NBA’s big men right now?

Well, he put in so much work during the off-season. He has proven—when he can stay on the floor—that he can affect the game in so many ways. Right now he’s adjusting, but he’s adjusting really well, and we love what we’ve seen from him so far. He’s very focused, he’s very vocal. And you see the big smile on his face, and that’s the big thing for us.

That’s true, but you also see him hang his head after a foul is called on him. Should you encourage him to get mad?

Nooo. We never try to tell the players to be something they’re not. He has to be Greg Oden. I have no problem with him being upset at a call or talking to the ref or engaging the ref, because he does it in a very respectful way. He’s never been disrespectful. He’s not that kind of kid.

I noticed you talking to ESPN columnist Bill Simmons last night. Did you bring up his 41-41 Blazers season prediction?

I did not, but he did. We don’t worry about that stuff. He’s a good guy. He’s great for our sport. He loves it. He’s passionate about it. He’s got very strong opinions. Some we agree with and some we don’t. But that’s what makes basketball a great sport.

Is there a direct correlation between the rise in popularity of fantasy basketball and the amount of criticism you get from people?

Oh, I would imagine so. But again, I love that part of it. I’m always welcome to opinions. There are 175 people in our organization: If you ask if they have an opinion, you better believe they do. This is a passionate business. This isn’t making staples, where you’re just making staples. It’s passionate. It’s what we die for, it’s what we live for. For me, it’s the most wonderful business that you can be in. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel that I’m the luckiest person in the world because I get to do exactly what I want to do every single day.

You never feel burnt out on basketball?

You know, I’m a workaholic. I’ve always been that way. But it doesn’t feel like that. A friend asked me, “How many hours do you work?” and I say, “Well, how many hours am I late?” My mind is always on it.

Do you use the free-chalupa coupons?

[Laughs] No, I’ve never. But I need to! My daughter loves Taco Bell. She thinks Taco Bell is the real deal. She wants to go there every day.

How To Sound Like You Care About The Blazers


JERRYD BAYLESS. IMAGE: Tom Oliver

At tipoff: “ I dunno, I liked the production we were getting from the three-guard lineup.”

After a fast break: “ If they ran like that a little more often, these guys would be unstoppable.”

When Greg Oden loses the ball: “There goes Mr. McButterhands!”

At halftime (winning): “ Blake got his touch back!”

At halftime (losing): “ Well, at least LaMarcus Aldridge looks good.”

Final minutes (close game): “ They can’t just give it to Roy and stand around! Wow, I guess they can.”

Final minutes (Blazer blowout): “Why haven’t they put Jerryd Bayless in yet?”

Final minutes (opposing team blowout): “Wouldn’t these be good minutes for Jerryd Bayless?”

After the game (win): “Wow, Greg Oden is starting to look like the real deal!”

After the game (loss): “Shoulda drafted Durant.”

The Breaks Of The Game

The Trail Blazers’ offensive hot—and not so hot—spots through the first 13 games.


SOME LIKE IT HOT:The Blazers&rsquo field goal percentages broken down by areas of the court, noting players who excel in those spots. IMAGE: Adam Krueger

Checking In With Channing

The former Blazers bench warmer is kind of a big deal in Phoenix.


SLIPPERY WHEN WET: Channing Frye chills poolside at his new home in Phoenix. IMAGE: courtesy of Lauren Frye

When WW last hung out with now ex-Blazer Channing Frye nearly a year ago (see “Here Today…,” WW, Dec. 24, 2008), he was in love with the city of Portland; his fiancée, Lauren (to whom he has since been wed); and the Blazers’ fans. But when the arena lights went up, Frye spent most of his time on the bench. After signing with his hometown Phoenix Suns in the offseason, that has all changed. Frye is a starting NBA center with an impressive stat line, including averaging nearly three three-pointers a game. He’s widely considered one of this season’s biggest surprises, and his new team was in a three-way tie for the NBA’s best record, as of press time. WW recently caught up with Frye via telephone.

WW: How’s Phoenix? How are the restaurants?

Channing Frye: We’re finding ’em! But I really don’t go out, man. I mean, I’m married now. I’m just chillin’ at the house. We cook a lot more. I thought I ate healthy out there! I eat ridiculously healthy out here. Being around Steve [Nash] and those guys, they’ve really taught me a lot about what to eat and when to eat. I’m like 245—I’m almost 15 pounds smaller than what I was in Portland. It’s a different lifestyle.

How much of a relief has it been to see some minutes?

That was huge. Me and Jason Richardson were talking, and it’s such a unique situation down here. No one is complaining. Everyone’s attitude is great. Sometimes you get on a team where you win a few games and everyone is kind of complacent, but it’s not like that. It’s hard to explain. Every game, nobody cares how many points they have or what this or that. It’s just, “Did we get the win?”

Is that a shift from Portland?

I think it is. You know, my time there was great. And the chemistry was there at times. But when you have a bunch of guys looking for contracts and a bunch of guys that are young, you know, it’s a lot of talent. It’s tough to control all that. I think so far they’ve done a pretty good job.

Did you know you could rain this many threes?

Did I know? No. And sure, everyone is saying, “What the heck?” But if I only get two shots, I’ve got to go down low, and do stuff that I might not be comfortable with. You know? I think [Portland] just wasn’t the right situation at the right time, man. Portland is great organization, just top-notch everything. But for certain people, it’s just not going to work out there. There’s just so much talent there.

Do you think that caused chemistry problems here, because everyone was having to fight for minutes?

Yeah, I think so. I mean, what do you expect? Are people supposed to be happy they’re not playing? No player who puts in that much work wants to be on the bench, you know? They’re not mad at the coach, they’re not mad at the GM or anybody like that. They’re just upset because they want to get out there.

Were you surprised at the ovation you got in Portland in preseason?

Yeah, that was amazing, man. No lie. I didn’t think I was going to get booed, [but] I did not know it was going to be like that. I couldn’t explain to you how good that felt. It’s one of those things I’ll never forget.

Who’s the funniest guy on the Suns?

Everybody’s a clown. But Leandro Barbosa. Just because he has this accent and he doesn’t really understand everything all the time. It’s just funny when he says jokes, or when he sings a song and doesn’t know the words. But everybody on this team is a jokester, man. I couldn’t be happier. I’m always in a good mood. I’m always just thankful that I, um, that—ooh!—sorry, I’m watching this chick get hit in the head with a boomerang. Dude, if you go to break.com they just boomeranged this chick in the head!

Greg Oden Needs To Get Angry

Here’s how.


IMAGE: Tom Oliver

BY AARON MESH amesh@wweek.com

Dear Greg Oden,

On behalf of Blazers fans everywhere, I’d like to express how delighted we are that you no longer appear to be clinically depressed. This season, you don’t seem to spend games thinking about how much you wish you had been a dentist. Sometimes you smile. You seem—dare we say it?—happy. So that’s good. You deserve to be happy.

But, Greg, we have a concern. We don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but…maybe you can’t be happy all the time? Like when you commit fouls. When you commit fouls—and let’s be honest, Greg, you commit fouls a lot—you look surprised and sad. Like Jerryd Bayless didn’t invite you to his birthday party.

May we make a suggestion? Instead of feeling crestfallen, you should be angry. A lot of those calls are bullshit. They should make you goddamn mad. They should make you tell the refs (who are all jealous of you, because they, in fact, were not invited to Jerryd Bayless’ birthday party) that they are stupid and tiny. It’s OK to tell the refs what you feel, Greg. In fact, it’s OK to express how you feel before they call a foul. You can express this by fouling the other players as hard as you can. Really smacking them.

But first, you have to get angry. We suspect that this is going to require some creative visualization. So the next time some cocky little point guard comes sauntering into your lane, we suggest that you picture one of the following things:

  1. Somebody is stomping on your dog, Charles Barkley McLovin.

  2. Bill Simmons is laughing at you. (Helpful transcription: “Haw! Haw! Haw!”)

  3. Rebecca Haarlow has mistaken you for Morgan Freeman again.

  4. Charles Barkley is eating Charles Barkley McLovin.

  5. That whole James Chasse situation.

  6. Elderly referee Dick Bavetta has nicknamed you “Mr. McButterhands.”

There. That’s six fouls, your allotment for one game. Now get out there and bust some heads, big guy. We’re all rooting for you.

Balls And Beers

Where to watch the game and drink—simultaneously.


BALLS OUT: Fans celebrate on another Oden dunk at the Tanker during Monday’s Blazers vs. Bulls blowout (122-98). IMAGE: vivianjohnson.com

BY WW STAFF

Let’s be honest, here. Practically nobody we know has cable TV anymore, and with reams of receipts for holiday gifts we’ve bought for friends, family and other non-basketball-playing ingrates piling up like snowdrifts around our ankles, it’s not like we can afford tickets to Blazers home games right now. So, what’s a fan to do? Head to the bar, of course. Team WW (and one wayward Lakers fan) has swilled and munched its way through a legion of local bars and restaurants with one goal in mind: find a great place to watch a Blazers basketball game. And, aside from the raging hangovers a few produced in overtime, these fill the bill nicely.


GAME ON: Now that you know where to watch a game, best know when to grab a stool. Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Jersey Nets: 7 pm Wednesday, Nov. 25. Blazers vs. Memphis Grizzlies: 7 pm Friday, Nov. 27. Blazers vs. Utah Jazz: 6 pm Saturday, Nov. 28. Blazers vs. Miami Heat: 7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 1.

SOUTHEAST

Tanker
4825 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 445-4635, tankerpdx.com.
The Tanker is more of a dive bar that happens to be a great place to watch sports than a traditional sports bar—there’s hardly any paraphernalia on the walls—but on a recent Wednesday evening a solid crowd of 15 people showed up, half of ’em sitting on bar stools. Plus, everyone laughed at my Oleksiy Pecherov joke. I mean, the guy does look like Steve Blake if he was roofied, ya know? MICHAEL MANNHEIMER.
TVs: Three or four, with a main one above the bar playing the Blazers game in glorious high-def.
Crowd: A pleasant mix of tight jeans, backward hats and looters looking to score free popcorn. And my brother, leaning over to me: “Does Greg Oden really have zero fouls?” Me, dumbfounded: “I think that’s the Ninkasi talking.”
Score: The Tanker’s got a great beer list, including three kinds of Ninkasi and the bar’s own “Tanker crude stout” on nitro. It’s also perfect for road games, with a happy hour that runs from 3 to 8 pm and lets you order as many $2.50 wells as you want and a heaping, gooey pile of nachos for just $5. Or you could chow on the free popcorn and revert to a liquid dinner, if the game gets out of hand.
Foul: Only one bartender on game night?
Bonus: Free jukebox for the inevitable “We Are the Champions” singalong after a big victory.

Blitz Ladd
2239 SE 11th Ave., 236-3592, blitzpdx.com/ladd.
Nice—a sofa is open at Best Buy! Let’s take a seat and watch TV. At this enormous sports bar, full of flat-screens and deep, black couches, it’s easy to get things mixed up. SASHA INGBER.
TVs: With 15 52-inch high-def TVs and one 12-foot projector screen, the only place you’ll miss the game is in the bathroom. Blitz should install some screens there, too.
Crowd: There are a surprising number of people peering at the game from behind laptops. Receding hairlines and the occasional gray head pepper the calm, late-20s/early-30s crowd. No one is shouting or jumping, but the amount of testosterone in the room could be promising for a gal looking for a date or drink.
Score: Happy hour features a wide selection of beers and munchies. There are 20 beers on tap; $3 pints of domestics, $4 microbrews. Highbrow pub grub like crab cakes, Asiago-and-blue-cheese waffle fries, and bread pudding are cheap, too ($3.25-$6.25).
Foul: This isn’t exactly your local dive bar; it’s too spacious and bright for that.
Bonus points: Pool, pingpong, foosball and shuffleboard. And a chef who sporadically sings to his waitstaff when orders are ready.

Claudia’s Sports Pub
3006 SE Hawthorne Blvd., 232-1744, claudiaspub.com.
Hauling open the double doors to this windowless plywood barn only to find an abrupt wall gives the impression that there’s something illicit going on inside. There ain’t. Once you get past the entryway, Claudia’s looks and feels like an Elks Lodge run by electronics salesmen, all wood paneling and liquid crystal, a serene place for dinner and a game. BEN WATERHOUSE.
TVs: One big projection screen and 11 flat-screens give four comfortable views of the game in addition to football, hockey and MSNBC. There isn’t a single table without a good view.
Crowd: Almost entirely male, fairly young, hungry, quiet.
Score: Macho Nachos, with beans, ground beef, tomatoes, olives, jalapeños and sour cream, feeds two for $6.95.
Foul: Cold drafts—the bad kind—from the back door.
Bonus points: Fireplace! Captain’s chairs!

Jolly Roger
1340 SE 12th Ave., 232-8060, jollyrestaurants.com.
As a puppy sodomizer—a.k.a. Lakers fan—if I’m actually going to exert the energy it takes to leave the house and watch the Blazers, the bar needs to be comfortable, unassuming and offer taco deals on Tuesday nights. In short, it needs to be a place like the Jolly Roger. MATT SINGER.
TVs: Eighteen flat-screens positioned panoramically around the bar, with one large-screen near the pool table, making the game impossible to miss—unlike an ill-advised Travis Outlaw three-point shot.
Crowd: Unpretentious folk who don’t understand Nate McMillan’s rotation either.
Score: Beer buckets ($13) on game nights, making it easy to drink through another first-round Blazers exit in the postseason.
Foul: Single, thirtysomething women ordering Jell-O shots to disguise the fact they graduated college during the Clinton administration, standing in front of the big-screen TV, causing you to miss Greg Oden’s single decent post move.
Bonus points: On the first of the month, patrons can enter to win a night out in Jolly Roger’s own limo, dubbed the Booty Mobile. As classy as Brandon Roy—and ugly as the back of Oden’s head.

Fire On The Mountain
1706 E Burnside St., 230-9464, portlandwings.com.
OK, the focus at this laid-back hot-wing haven is on a dunk in the deep fryer rather than a dunk at the hoop. But if you’re with a mixed group of Blazers fans and, you know, normal people, there is no better middle ground at which to guzzle micros and argue potential trades while the other half of your table gnaws on spicy wings and shares a deep-fried Twinkie. KELLY CLARKE.
TVs: Two wide-screens at opposite ends of the joint, although, oddly, neither is over the barstools; at night, FOTM’s large front windows act as mirrors, so we’ll count that as four screens total.
Crowd: Your co-workers, college friends and ex-boyfriends, plus your entire extended family. In fleece.
Score: A small order of tots ($2.95) is the size of a chihuahua. Double score: Because both TVs are visible through the front windows, smokers won’t miss a second of play when they pay a sidewalk visit to cancerland.
Foul: Couldn’t you turn down the hippie rock a notch so we can hear the dulcet tones of Mike Barrett and Mike Rice? Boo.
Bonus points: Eleven tasty wing sauces, from spicy peanut and raspberry habanero to El Jefe.

NORTHEAST/NORTH

Stanich’s
4915 NE Fremont St., 281-2322.
A low-key, old-school place to watch a game. HANK STERN.
TVs: Two flat-screens over the bar, two in the larger eating area, and two in the pool room mean you’re never out of earshot of one of TV announcer Mike Rice’s malapropisms.
Crowd: This is a quiet crowd that lets fans focus on the game, with many families and old-timers just there to grab a burger in the restaurant.
Score: Wonderfully decadent burgers and fries.
Foul: We get that the cook likes to listen to the game on the radio. But the TV broadcast lags behind radio by about 10 seconds, and the kitchen is in front of the bar. The result? Bar patrons hear radio announcer Brian Wheeler’s overwrought “boom-chak-a-laka” well before seeing the corresponding dunk on TV.
Bonus points: If the game is lousy—say, the Blazers’ brickfest in the first half against New Orleans on Nov. 13—it’s fun to find obscure team pennants among the hundreds of sports flags that cover most every inch of the walls, or look for Blazer memorabilia from the team’s 40-year history.

The Copper Rooster
5827 E Burnside St., 234-4190.
It’s got low ceilings, cafeteria-caliber food, surly waitresses, a tap selection comprising nothing but Bud and Coors, a musty odor, and more video-lottery monitors than TVs. So why watch the Blazers at East Burnside’s diviest dive? Because nobody else does, making it easy for fans to overtake the bar’s living-roomish back room and quaff cheap beer. It’s an atmosphere where no behavior short of pyromania will draw ire, and where being younger than 50 means you rule the roost. (One senior-citizen hen even scrawled her number on this reporter’s napkin at a recent game—cock-a-doodle-whoo!) AP KRYZA.
TVs: Two old-school big screens; one in the bar area, one in the massive back room.
Crowd: Most of the patrons look like they haven’t left their stools since the Blazers won their last championship, and are more concerned with video poker than Travis Outlaw.
Score: Occasional oddball drink specials, the strangest being an incendiary plum daiquiri for $4.50 a few months back.
Foul: The bar’s like heroin. It drains my life force every time—yet I can’t stop going back.
Bonus points: Androgynous old men tell the best war stories.

NEPO 42
5403 NE 42nd Ave., 288-8080, nepo42.com.
Oh, no! You’ve scheduled your second date with Tiffany from accounts payable for the same night Travis Outlaw returns from his foot injury! (You schedule far in advance.) Split the difference: Most of the patrons watching the Grizzlies game at NEPO’s polished wood bar were couples in color-coordinated knit ski caps. She’ll love it here. AARON MESH.
TVs: Two—a massive plasma above the bar and a tiny tube above a back nook.
Crowd: The vibe is contemplative, but the room is packed. There may have been more people in NEPO than were actually attending in Memphis.
Score: Twenty-five-cent buffalo wings during games. And they’re big wings—clearly harvested from the Dwight Howard of chickens.
Foul: Golf claps after big baskets.
Bonus points: Dude, the place has fresh oranges, lemons and limes at the counter. Class.

AL Sports Pub
5933 NE Glisan St., 405-8113.
AL is better known as a football bar (specifically for the Pittsburgh Steelers), but the chill atmosphere and attentive bartenders and waitstaff make it the perfect place to bring a group of your best Blazers-fan friends. Just don’t expect any loud cheering, fist-pumping or chest-bumping. The menu boasts standard but good bar food, and if you’re there for a Blazers (as opposed to a Steelers) game, chances are you’ll get your eats quickly. An assortment of pool tables, foosball tables and pinball machines are available for those not focused on the game. ALI ROTHSCHILD.
TVs: The bar is spacious and adorned with football memorabilia, and with 14 screens (one projector), you won’t miss a thing no matter where you turn.
Crowd: Hipsters, blue-collars, neighborhood locals. Nary a Blazers jersey to be found.
Score: Thirty-five great drafts, most of them priced around $3.
Foul: The plethora of screens and their proximity to each other ends up being more distracting than useful. The video games give the hint that watching the game isn’t first priority. It will probably be a letdown for the hardcore fan.
Bonus points: Close to the MAX line, so no DD needed!

Sinnott’s Lil’ Cooperstown
5851 NE Halsey St., 282-4440.
It may be named after baseball’s hometown, but on Blazers night, Lil’ Cooperstown turns into Lil’ Rip City. Tables are packed with fans young and old from the neighborhood, scarfing fare like the fantastically decadent Gooey Burger ($6.95), topped with three cheeses, bacon and egg. It’s the kind of sports bar you can (and should) find in any town, with basementy wood paneling, greasy food, ample sports memorabilia and friendly waitresses who don’t hesitate to dole out high-fives when Oden dunks. AP KRYZA.
TVs: Ten total, including three behind the bar, six in the main dining room and one tucked into the corner by the pool table.
Crowd: Lil’ Coops is packed with a variety of Northeast neighborhood folks. “That’s all ball,” says one Blazers-jerseyed fan as Przybilla draws a foul. When his buddy replies, “That’s what he said,” a table full of gray-haired men with potbellies lets out a chuckle before calling bullshit on the ref.
Score: Daily specials include $3 micros on Tuesday and $1.25 PBR on Thursday.
Foul: If you’re stuck in the pool room, you’re limited to one small TV, and the dividing walls make it impossible to see the other screens.
Bonus points: Coops’ hand-cut fries give Stanich’s a run for their money.

George’s Corner Tavern
5501 N Interstate Ave., 289-0307.
“What time does the Ducks game start?” mused the horseshoe-mustachioed man at the barstool to my left after glancing at the third quarter of the Blazers game in Charlotte. “That’s three more hours.” Most of George’s Saturday-evening patrons were not there for a contest against the Bobcats; they were there for the beer, or the Keno—or, in one woman’s case, to look for her husband. AARON MESH.
TVs: Six screens, two dedicated to the game, all positioned slightly higher than would be ideal.
Crowd: “ Punk-ass bitches,” remarked a man in a gray stocking cap as the Bobcats picked a fight with LaMarcus Aldridge. The guy, like all four people actually watching the game, turned out to be extremely basketball-savvy, offering a detailed analysis of the cheap shot that provoked Aldridge. “Punk-ass bitches,” he concluded. “As I said.”
Score: The food at George’s is a secret weapon. Try the patty melt.
Foul: The remote-control quiz screens flanking the games tout vampire-themed “Twi-Hard Trivia.”
Bonus points: The place still stocks packs of American Spirits. And Baby Ruth bars.

DOWNTOWN AND VICINITY

The Cheerful Tortoise
1939 SW 6th Ave., 224-3377, cheerfulgrills.com.
The Cheerful Tortoise may be a college bar on the weekends, but if you’re watching an away game on a Tuesday night, chances are the crowd isn’t as hyped on Rip City as you are, despite the place advertising itself as “an exclusive fan site of the Portland Trail Blazers.” INDIA NICHOLAS.
TVs: There are five times as many televisions as there are beers on tap. This is great—unless the game is on Comcast, in which case, the picture is always grainy. A place with this many screens should shell out for League Pass.
Crowd: Expected a rowdy group of PSU kids chanting “Outlaw! Outlaw!” but instead got a bunch of older (and lamer) guests sipping Diet Cokes, ignoring the game.
Score: A fireplace in the middle of the room was a nice bonus. Winter in Portland is coming, and you don’t want to be chilly while you cheer on Martell’s dunks.
Foul: The nachos were dry and cold, and the spinach artichoke dip was salty and boring.
Bonus points: Even if the Blazers lose, you can still sing karaoke!

The Agency Ultra Sport Lounge
1939 SW Morrison St., 548-2921, theagencyentertainment.com.
The Agency puts a cosmopolitan spin on sports bars, but it lacks energy. It’s ideal for those who want the Blazers playing in the background, rather than at center stage. JONATHAN CROWL.
TVs: Sixteen, including a tornado of high-def screens situated in the middle of the room. There wasn’t a seat in the bar that didn’t have an easy view of multiple TVs.
Crowd: Sparsely populated, sedate and filled with women drinking martinis and men who cross their legs. Not one item of Blazers garb made an appearance.
Score: For eight bucks on Wednesdays, you can get a beer, hamburger and fries. All are delicious.
Foul: The Agency is the piano bar of sports lounges. Plus, it had run out of, or stopped carrying, five of the 12 draft beers on its menu.
Bonus points: Former Trail Blazer and NBA coach Terry Porter was among the dozen or so patrons watching the game.

NORTHWEST/PEARL DISTRICT

On Deck
910 NW 14th Ave., 227-7020, ondecksportsbar.com.
One of Portland’s few rooftop bars, this imposing sports mecca is a popular summertime destination. In the winter it feels a bit like an airport bar, but cheaper, and less frustrating for smokers. Though On Deck is falling behind in the TV-technology arms race, the fact there’s not always a big screen right in your face lends a touch of ambience big-city sports bars usually lack. CASEY JARMAN.
TVs: Twenty-six. The TVs above the bar are standard definition (and during our visit, full-screen, standard-definition games were stretched to fit wide-screen, high-def TVs—a reasonably major party foul). Great angles for viewing from the bar (those old-school, boxy TV sets above the bar are integral to the club’s design, which is probably why they haven’t been switched out yet), slightly awkward angles for viewing from a booth.
Crowd: Button-down types whose interest in sports is secondary to talking about work or flirting with female friends. Audible displays of fandom are regular but not overwhelming.
Score: Happy-hour food specials are super-cheap, and it seems like it’s always happy hour. Combine the $2 Caesar salad with the $3 chicken strip plate and you’re in pretty good shape, foodwise.
Foul: On our visit the waitress asked to hold on to a credit card, then forgot to give it back when we paid in cash.
Bonus points: For being located in the douchey Pearl District and retaining a bit of personality.

Mission Theater & Pub
1624 NW Glisan St., 223-4527.
A chill spot to catch the game, chow down on bar food of modest quality, and hang out with friends in the only old-timey dance hall where you could ever conceivably stand up and start chanting, “Cha-lu-pa!” ANVI BUI.
TVs: One colossal movie screen, which gives viewers the feeling of being right in the action at the Rose Garden (sticky floors and a d-bag who sporadically shrieks “Fucking defense!” not included).
Crowd: Handfuls of folk who politely chatter away in their own little groups. The quiet is shattered by raucous roars whenever the Blazers score, so those who startle easily should stay at home with a nice merlot.
Score: Although the crowd can be small during weekday games, it still loves its Blazers and is lively as hell.
Foul: Those prone to hypoglycemia should bring a snack while they wait for food. It took over a half hour to get my salad, but according to the disgruntled bartender, “That’s how long it usually takes.” I’d hate to see how long it would have taken had I ordered the “communication breakdown burger.”
Bonus points: The mammoth movie screen, which allows xenophobic Blazers fans to watch the game in high-def without having to share tables or sit too close to people. Ew, sharing!

Marathon Taverna
1735 W Burnside St., 224-1341.
The Marathon is fine. There’s booze there, and fried food. You can get drunk there. You will almost certainly catch a game—there are a ton of televisions. You’ll probably be surrounded by a bunch of dudes watching the game with you. If mediocre bar-bars are your thing, this is not a bad place to catch the Blazers in action. KATE WILLIAMS. [Ed note: We supply this note from writer AP Kryza as further evidence of the “Marathon is a guy bar theory”: “Marathon is off the hizzy every game. Rowdy as fuck, cheap food, micro pitchers, and hot waitresses. Bada boom.”]
TVs: Seventeen. Three big-screens. Anywhere you sit you can see at least one, and most likely up to three, without even turning your head.
Crowd: The Marathon has a customer base of two distinct types: aging frat boys with popped collars, and 60-year-old grizzled townies. Any chicks in the place were most certainly dragged in by their guy pals. While this mix seemed interested enough in the game, there weren’t any die-hard fans. Most people there seemed more interested in chatting with their bros than watching the Blazers’ every play.
Score: There’s free popcorn from a machine in the corner. Sure, it tasted like it was popped last week and is covered in stale butter-salt, but it’s free and bottomless. The beer is pretty cheap too—$2.50 pints of macros and $3.75 pints of micros all the time. With free food, this means you can waltz out drunk (and full) for under 10 bucks.
Foul: Next to said popcorn machine is a cigarette vending machine. There’s a row of Doritos in the cigarette machine. Just what I want—stale cig smell mixing with delicious nacho cheese powder. Sick. Also, cigarette vending machines remind me of Waffle House, which reminds me of 2 am in high school, which is not exactly my favorite topic of conversation.
Bonus points: This place is huge. There’s pool, darts and lottery for those who don’t care about the game. For those who really don’t care about the game, well, drinks are dirt cheap. Oh, and did I mention free popcorn?

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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