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Not My Job: We Ask NBA Star Terry Porter About Trailblazers


Lastly, in the spring of this year we went to Portland, Ore. And instead of talking to some bearded hipster, we talked to a straight-laced guy from Wisconsin, who also happened to be a star player for the Portland Trailblazers.

BILL KURTIS: Peter asked Terry Porter about his background and his unlikely journey West.


SAGAL: Well, you grew up in Milwaukee, right?


SAGAL: And you went to a tiny little college called Stevens Point. Is that right?



SAGAL: Not, if I'm - not like one of those basketball factories, not exactly the University of Kentucky, if I'm not mistaken.


SAGAL: Were you one of those kids - 'cause you, I'm assuming, were an excellent basketball player as a young man, did you imagine yourself in the NBA? Were you one of those guys who had those dreams, you just knew you were going to make it?

PORTER: I did not have those type of dreams. I was actually a big football fan growing up, so I...

SAGAL: Really?

PORTER: ...I wanted to be a football guy.

SAGAL: Well, I'm sorry for your disappointment.


PORTER: Turned out God has a better plan.

SAGAL: It must've been terrible. That does explain that time in the - I guess it was the '85 finals when you just took out Michael Jordan at the knees.


PORTER: He came across the middle.

SAGAL: I understand, man.


SAGAL: It was a good hit. It was a clean hit.

PORTER: Clean hit.

SAGAL: It was a clean hit.

PORTER: Hey, nowadays, you know...

SAGAL: You can't do that.

PORTER: You can't do that.

SAGAL: No, I understand. So you did, however, play in the finals against Michael Jordan. Was it '80 - no, it was '90 - help me...

PORTER: '92.

SAGAL: '92, you played in the finals...

PORTER: '92.

SAGAL: ...With Michael Jordan.


SAGAL: And what was it like to play against him in his prime?

PORTER: It was hard.


PORTER: No, he was - he was an amazing athlete, an amazing player. And he just - his will to win was amazing.

SAGAL: Really? Yeah, I mean, he had this reputation for being incredibly competitive. He wouldn't let anybody beat him at anything.

PORTER: Turned out that way. We didn't beat him, so...

SAGAL: Yeah - well, yeah...


PORTER: It worked.

SAGAL: It worked out in his case. Yeah, I guess it was. Did he - was he a trash-talking kind of player? Did he give you grief on the court?

PORTER: He talked a lot.

SAGAL: Did he really?

PORTER: He loved to talk.

SAGAL: Really? What sort of things did he say to you?

PORTER: I'm going to get the ball here. I'm going to score over you, and you can't do anything about it.


SAGAL: Really? He would say that?

PORTER: Yeah. Or, you know, he'd run by the bench and say you better bring somebody else out here to guard me because the guy you got on me right now is not working.


SAGAL: That is cold.

PORTER: It's mean.

SAGAL: You're a coach now - University of Portland.

PORTER: Yes, go Pilots.

SAGAL: Right.


SAGAL: So I want to ask you about speeches.


SAGAL: Right? Because we all - you know, especially in sports movies...


SAGAL: The coach comes into the locker room. They're down at the half.


SAGAL: You know, what are you going to do? You're Gene Hackman in "Hoosiers" or whatever, and you give that speech. Do you as a coach ever give those speeches?

PORTER: You try to give them. But, you know, you try to do one or two a year because it kind of runs their course.

SAGAL: Right. They can't be like, oh, I've heard that again.


SAGAL: All right, I'm...

PORTER: Yeah, they'd be like, jeez, oh, you're going to pull that one out one more time?

SAGAL: All right.

PORTER: Didn't you use that last week?


SAGAL: So pretend that we here (laughter)...


SAGAL: I'm sorry.

PORTER: I mean, pretend you're an athlete?

SAGAL: Pretend that we very short, middle-aged, white people on this stage...


SAGAL: Imagine we are your basketball team.


SAGAL: It's the championship game. We're down. We're in the locker room for halftime.

BOBCAT GOLDTHWAIT: We're taking on the other munchkins in Oz.

SAGAL: Yeah.


SAGAL: I want to hear your motivational speech.

PORTER: Guys, this has been one heck of a year.


PORTER: This has been one heck - I mean, in my wildest dreams, I would have never managed we got this far. But...


PORTER: But now that we here, we might as well make the best of it. We got...


PORTER: ...Twenty more minutes - 20 more minutes that our names will live in legacy. Let's go out, play together, play hard and make it happen.


SAGAL: That's it.

PORTER: There you go.

SAGAL: All right.


PORTER: There you go.


SAGAL: Well, Terry Porter, we have asked you here to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: You'll Need Vision, Guts And A Lack Of Shame.

SAGAL: So you played for the Portland Trailblazers. You're in their hall of fame. So we thought we'd ask you about three other kinds of trailblazers, people who were bold enough with their ideas that they changed the world. Answer 2 out of 3 questions correctly, you'll win our prize - Carl Kasell's voice for one of our listeners. Bill, who is basketball great Terry Porter playing for?

KURTIS: Kathy Jensen (ph) of Portland, Ore.

SAGAL: All right. She's out here somewhere.


SAGAL: On May 3, 1978, a man named Gary Thuerk was the first person to ever do something. What was it? A, he sent the very first spam email; B, he tried eating a weed called kale...


SAGAL: Or, C, he strapped a lady's purse to his belt and created the fanny pack.

PORTER: Oh, I would say C, strap...

SAGAL: You're going to say C?

PORTER: Fanny belt.

SAGAL: Created the fanny pack?


SAGAL: No, actually, no.


SAGAL: He actually sent the first spam email.

PORTER: Oh, '73?

SAGAL: No, '78.

PORTER: '78?

SAGAL: It was a message sent to 400 people on ARPANET - that was the ancient precursor of the Internet - advertising a new computer. So, Gary, thanks, man.

PORTER: Good job.

SAGAL: You have two more chances here.

PORTER: All right.

SAGAL: Thomas Jefferson accomplished many things in his life. Among them, he was the first person - President Thomas Jefferson - ever to do what? A, initiate the wave in a crowd of people.


SAGAL: B, use the word shag to mean do it.


SAGAL: Or, C, he was the first person to charge somebody to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom.


PORTER: Shag, I would say.

SAGAL: You're right. It was shag.


SAGAL: He's credited - he's credited with using the term in that sense in a private letter in the 1770s, so there you are - Thomas Jefferson.


JOBRANI: Why was he writing about - the back - even back then the presidents were taking advantage of the presidency and shagging.

SAGAL: No, no. No, he was not - it wasn't like bragging.


SAGAL: He wasn't bragging about shagging.

GOLDTHWAIT: He really, really...

SAGAL: He was actually insulting somebody else.

GOLDTHWAIT: He was telling them to go shag off.

SAGAL: More or less.


SAGAL: Terry has one more chance here to win this game. Samuel Francis was a trailblazer in the world of cuisine. What did he do in 1874? A, he invented the bloomin' onion.


SAGAL: B, he created the spork; or, C, he was the first waiter to say, hey, you still working on that?



SAGAL: The crowd is shouting.


PORTER: I can't hear them though.

SAGAL: Yeah. Many of them...

PORTER: I can't hear them.

SAGAL: ...Are waving big inflatable noodles to distract you.


PORTER: I'll go with the spork.

SAGAL: You're right. It was the spork. He invented it.


SAGAL: Combination fork and spoon - he patented it in 1874, although the term spork was not trademarked until 1970. Bill, how did Terry Porter do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Two out of three - better than Michael Jordan.

SAGAL: Absolutely.


PORTER: Where's my ring? Where's my ring?

SAGAL: Terry Porter is a member of the Portland Trailblazers Hall of Fame, and he is the head men's basketball coach at the University of Portland. Terry Porter, thank you so much for joining us.

PORTER: It really is my pleasure.


SAGAL: Terry Porter, ladies and gentleman. So it was great to spend an entire hour on this radio without mentioning two names, giving everybody a break and winning me 20 bucks from Bill here.

KURTIS: I didn't think you could do it.

SAGAL: Ha ha. Support for NPR comes from NPR stations and TIAA. Whether it's investing advice, banking or retirement, TIAA is dedicated to helping who teach, heal and serve others achieve a lifetime of financial well being. Learn more at TIAA.org. Lumber Liquidators a proud sponsor of NPR, offering more than 400 styles, including hardwood, bamboo, laminate and vinyl, with flooring specialists in hundreds of stores nationwide. More at lumberliquidators.com or 1-800-HARDWOOD. And the Bill and Malinda Gates Foundation, dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value and working with partners to envision a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life at gatesfoundation.org. WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME is a production of NPR and WBEZ Chicago, in association with Urgent Haircut Productions, Doug Berman, a benevolent overlord. Philipp Goedicke writes our limericks. Our intern is Alex Wal-achey-breaky-heart (ph). Our web guru is Beth Novey. Special thanks to the crew at the Chase Bank auditorium. BJ Leiderman composed out theme. Our program is produced by Robin Linn and Miles Doornbos. Technical director was from Lorna White. Our CFO is Ann Nguyen. Our production coordinator is Robert Neuhaus. Our senior producer is Ian Chillag. And the executive producer of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME is Michael Danforth. Thanks to Bill Kurtis. Thanks to all of our guests and panelists. Thanks to the immortal Carl Kasell. I'm Peter Sagal, and we will see you next week.


SAGAL: This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.