Rip City meets Swell City

Blazers shoot TV commercial with local fans

Trail Blazers color commentator Mike Rice (right) hands a ball off to former Blazers power forward Jerome Kersey, who played in the NBA for 17 seasons, 11 of which were with the Blazers. Kersey, Rice, and Blazer Dancers Amy and Andrea were in town to shoot a commercial for the for the team that will air in the early part of the season, which starts next week.

Photo by Ben Mitchell
Trail Blazers color commentator Mike Rice (right) hands a ball off to former Blazers power forward Jerome Kersey, who played in the NBA for 17 seasons, 11 of which were with the Blazers. Kersey, Rice, and Blazer Dancers Amy and Andrea were in town to shoot a commercial for the for the team that will air in the early part of the season, which starts next week.



The Hood River waterfront was buzzing with activity midday Thursday as local Portland Trail Blazers fans descended upon Waterfront Park to take part in a commercial shoot for the team that will air during the upcoming NBA season.

Fans came decked out in their best Blazers gear and also got a chance to meet Blazers alum Jerome Kersey, who played with the team from 1984-95; color commentator Mike Rice, who has been an announcer with the team since 1991; and Blazer Dancers Amy and Andrea.

The commercial was an extension of a tour known as the Rip City Relay, where Blazers announcers, alumni, and Blazer Dancers visit cities around the state to promote the upcoming season. For the Blazer uninitiated, “Rip City” is one of the team’s nicknames, derived from a line Blazers announcer Bill Schonley delivered during a game in the team’s inaugural 1970-71 season.

Earlier this week, the team put out a casting call on its Facebook page, informing fans the team would be filming the commercial in Hood River and asking those who wished to participate in the commercial to show up Thursday near the picnic shelter at Waterfront Park at 11:30 a.m.

Though it rained throughout much of the day Thursday, the Trail Blazers’ in-house production crew filming the commercial caught a lucky break during shooting early afternoon when the rains stopped and the sun came out, if just for a bit. Over 50 fans from around the Gorge showed up to the event.

Aaron Grossman, corporate communications manager for the Blazers, said the Rip City Relay was looking for cities with “great fan bases” for the commercial and also noted that “shooting in Hood River makes perfect sense because it’s a beautiful place to be.”

Ryan Flaherty, director of marketing and creative services for the team, who was in charge of managing the shoot, agreed.

“We wanted to get a good mix of the Northwest and the Gorge is one place we definitely wanted to hit,” he said of the tour, adding that the “fitness and athleticism” associated with Hood River also made it an attractive candidate for filming.

Grossman said Hood River will have its own TV spot that will debut on a to-be-determined date, but added he expected it to be in the early part of the season. Flaherty said footage will be edited into approximately a few dozen half-second shots of different fans that will be used to make the 30-second commercial.

Fans got in line to pose in their Blazers hats and jerseys in front of a large metal Rip City sign located down at the water’s edge. The “i” in “City” was removed, and fans filled in the gap, representing their importance to the team, Flaherty explained. Fans mugged for the camera and struck a number of poses at the crew’s direction. Kersey and Rice also posed in front of the sign for the commercial and ribbed each other for muffing the timing on a take or two.

In between shots, Kersey and Rice chatted and joked with fans, signed autographs, posed for pictures, and strolled around Waterfront Park, enjoying the sunbreaks when they came.

Both Kersey and Rice told the News they had been to Hood River before and enjoy it. Rice said he’s played golf at Indian Creek and once took some out-of-town friends who wanted to go windsurfing to Hood River.

“It was unbelievable,” Rice said of the trip.

He added he enjoys traveling around Oregon and meeting fans all over the state when he does these tours.

“It’s not just Portland, it’s Oregon’s team,” he said of the Blazers, “so we try to get out as much as we can.”

Kersey, who still lives in the Portland area, said he has been to Hood River “many, many times” over the years, watching his daughter compete in volleyball games back in the day, or taking in the summer scene. He mentioned his fondness for local beer — Double Mountain’s Kolsch in particular — and made plans to head over with Rice to pFreim across the street after the shoot was over.

“It’s a neat town,” Kersey said.

Though the air date of the commercial hasn’t been announced, you can start checking for it Wednesday when the Trail Blazers open up their season with a home game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 7:30 p.m.



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