PORTLAND NEEDS WILLAMETTE WEEK.
NOW WILLAMETTE WEEK NEEDS YOU.

The need for strong, independent local journalism
is more urgent than ever. Please support the city we
love by joining Friends of Willamette Week.

Blazers TV Announcers Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd Make Even Losses Fun

Calabro, a longtime Seattle SuperSonics announcer, has brought a tent-revival enthusiasm to his role as the bard of Lillard Time.

Last Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers blew a 15-point, fourth-quarter lead to lose in Dallas. But first, Kevin Calabro caught the Holy Ghost.

"He's having an out-of-body experience!" the Blazers' play-by-play man screamed as All-NBA guard Damian Lillard drained a 3-point jumper. "Hearing voices! Seeing lights!"

Blazers fans are accustomed to Lillard's explosions—brief supernovas of otherworldly shooting. But pay attention to the soundtrack. Calabro, a longtime Seattle SuperSonics announcer, has brought a tent-revival enthusiasm to his role as the bard of Lillard Time. We're going to look back at Dame's big games and feel an extra glow because Calabro growled and gloried through them.

Calabro makes Blazers broadcasts fun, even when the team doesn't. In part, this is because he appears to be a genuine eccentric. For the better part of two years, I've kept a list of subjects Calabro discussed when he grew bored with a bad game. These include:

• Gondolas

• Italian mountaineer Reinhold Messner

• Whether you're allowed to ice-climb Multnomah Falls in winter (you are not, but Calabro maintains you are)

• Tasmanian devils

• The Tale of Peter Rabbit and its seasonal application to Easter

• Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots

• Hungry Hungry Hippos

• Autumn weather

• Gators, which cannot tell the difference between a seal and a human being

The Wire

He also compared Jusuf Nurkic to a mighty sturgeon pulled from the Columbia River. It was poetry.

Many Blazers fans maintain loyalty to the pairing of Mike Barrett and Mike Rice—the legendary "Mike and Mike," who now hawk Subarus and sip vodka tonics, respectively—but they could be a sour pair, distinguished by their irritation with players, referees and each other, not necessarily in that order. Calabro and his broadcasting partner, former player Lamar Hurd, seem delighted by every chance to sit courtside. (Hurd adds a lot by serving as the straight man to Calabro, gently mocking his boomer blind spots.) Their good spirits are doubly impressive given how much of their job consists of bumpy red-eye flights on cramped charter planes.

The Blazers are a mediocre basketball team. Yet two of their contributors are transcendent. Those two are Damian Lillard and Kevin Calabro. We're lucky to watch one watch the other.

1. Because we're not afraid of public displays of affection…

2. Because women are in charge…

3. Because our local theater scene tells true, inspiring Oregon stories…

4. Because Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd make even Blazer losses fun…

5. Because we're still No. 1 in semi-factual superlatives…

6. Because we have a sixth quadrant now…

7. Because the hottest rapper in the game is obsessed with us…

8. Because Oregon is gradually getting more diverse, and in unexpected ways…

9. Because we can work it out…

10. Because we helped jump-start the movement that's changing the tech 
industry…

11. Because if you want to, you can dance to…

12. Because we're so sex positive, you can take a class on…

13. Because we're working to become a bike haven again…

14. Because after walking across Antarctica, I can still come back 
to my favorite dive bar…

15. Because the Blazers' game-day posters are the coolest collectibles in sports…

16. Because our airport is Beervana…

17. Because our fake fast food beats the real thing…

18. Because the Big Pipe is keeping poop out of the river…

19. Because we're making an effort to diversify the cannabis industry…

20. Because we finally have a virtual reality playland…

21. Because we have nicer weather than Hawaii (no, really)…

22. Because Basic Rights Oregon is fighting for LGTBQ+ rights—and winning…

23. Because Portland State's gym just underwent an awesome makeover…

24. …and the courthouse is getting one, too.

25. Because our hotel bars are some of the best bars in the city…

26. Because you'll spend less time in jail here than the national average…

27. Because we make some of the best guitar pedals in the biz…

28. Because our Curry is better than that other Curry…

29. Because we're Raptorville USA…

30. Because ICE hates us…

31. Because everything that dies someday comes back…