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Answered Why does Portland say Rip City

Answered: Why does Portland say Rip City?

Ever wonder why Portland has earned the moniker of “Rip City”? True, many younger residents are unaware of its history. 

In fact, if you ask any teenager on the streets of Portland how the city got the nickname “Rip City,” you’ll probably get a few blank stares. Believe it or not, it all started with a casual remark about the Portland Trail Blazers. 

Haven’t heard the whole story? We’ve got you covered!

1. Where did the nickname “Rip City” come from?

Where did the nickname “Rip City” come from

The Portland nickname “Rip City” comes from a basketball game.

When the Portland Trail Blazers had a chance to tie the game against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971, Bill Schonely, the team’s play-by-play announcer, yelled hysterically, “Rip City, alright!”, giving the city its new moniker.

This game was on a fine day on February 18, 1971. It’s definitely the kind of fight that had sports bars filled to the brim with a giant crowd!

As would be expected of a brand-new team, the Trail Blazers actually had a very poor opening game. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Lakers were having a successful one. 

Hence, there was a strong chance that the Blazers would lose the game.

As expected, Portland’s team had trouble getting going early and fell behind the Lakers. In the second half, the Blazers made a significant comeback, cutting the deficit to two points and giving themselves a chance to tie the game. 

Then, Jim Barnett, a shooting guard for the Trail Blazers, took a reckless deep shot nearly from the half-court mark. He got it in and tied the Lakers.

That was when Bill Schonely, the Portland Trail Blazers’ play-by-play announcer, exclaimed, “Rip City, alright!”

The Trail Blazers sadly lost the game by a score of 136–114 but still helped make history in that moment, particularly for the people of Portland. 

2. What does the nickname “Rip City” mean?

What does the nickname “Rip City” mean

Portland’s nickname, Rip City, dates back to the early 1970s, but even Rip City residents who know how the city got its nickname aren’t sure what it means.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Bill Schonely, the man behind the name, addressed what he meant when he screamed the phrase. He explained that it simply means the sensation of something good and positive (non-verbatim). 

And from the moment he said those words, he was fully integrated into the city, woven into its very core. It’s now part of Portland’s lively culture that rings within the borders of the city.

Quick fact: he was also the man behind other well-known Trail Blazers phrases such as “Bingo Bango Bongo” and “You’ve got to make your free throws.”

Schonely revealed in the same interview that he was still overcome by the thought years later. 

As far as he recalls, just as Barnett (Blazers’ shoot guard at the time) flew and made the shot, he himself made a historical score by screaming those three words at the top of his lungs.

When asked if he still gets goosebumps when he hears “Rip City” today, the long-retired broadcaster cannot help but react with a genuine response.

Other than this, another athlete has also expressed a new meaning to Rip City.

According to Jason Quick, one of the NBA’s most respected beat writers, what defines Rip City is the feeling you get when you remember sports at their purest, strongest sense of community. 

When asked by Sports Illustrated, he stated that Rip City represents the unity that the Blazers bring to the city’s residents.

Rip City’s Legacy

Rip City’s Legacy

Brian Wheeler, Schonely’s successor, refused to use the phrase, claiming it belonged to Schonely. But, as everyone knows, it has since become synonymous with the team and the city.

Wheeler always refers to Schloney as if he was Rip City. Although the latter was the one who first said the words, the phrase quickly came to represent a shared sentiment that was both inspired by and responsive to a fan base.

The expression came to represent both the broadcast and the team as it was used year after year. Wheeler personally observed how Blazers fans, who are among the most devout in sports, have come to truly embrace everything that Rip City entails.

Today, with Mark Mason as the chief PA announcer for the Blazers, the legacy continues. And this is enough to keep the energy alive among serious sports fans in the area. 

In fact, Mason mentioned his favorite Blazers memories in an interview with Sports Illustrated. He brings up Damian Lillard’s game-winning shot, which is arguably the moment that will live on in Portland lore for all time. 

But his memory of it is of something even more special than the basket itself. It was after the shot that he walked over, grabbed the mic, and yelled “Rip City!” as loudly as he could.

Experience the Rip

Experience the Rip

The ultimate goal of rooting for the Blazers (other than for them to win, of course) is to experience what truly defines Rip City. After all, it’s a diverse city rich with fine cuisine and an appreciation for sports and arts.

If you want to see the area where Schonely made that famous call so many years ago, the Trail Blazers play their home games at the city’s main indoor sports arena, the Moda Center, formerly known as the Rose Garden.

While it’s true that the Trail Blazers were the first to use the name “Rip City,” which has since come to represent Portland in general, you might also hear the term used in connection with the city’s other major sports team.

Cheer for the Portland Timbers, the city’s soccer team, at Providence Park, an outdoor stadium in Goose Hollow. It’s a great alternative if you’ve had your fair share of cinema experience already.

If you haven’t heard, professional soccer is a big deal in Portland, and home games frequently sell out. Check them out and let the Rip City vibes inside you!

Even as a nickname, “Rip City” is a source of pride in Portland’s identity and a true rallying point for the city.

Yes, the phrase appears on jerseys, merchandise, hats, and other memorabilia, but it means more to die-hard Blazers fans and city residents. 

It’s more than just a chant and something to shout about. It’s a sense of belonging not only in the sports world but also in the city of Portland as a whole!

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