I was a lucky child growing up. My mother worked at the Jewish Community Center (JCC) where the Blazers practiced in the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s. Harry Glickman, a member of the JCC, worked out a deal where the Blazers could literally practice as a part of the Portland community, something unthought-of today. This gave middle aged men and women and young children a chance to say they played basketball where the Blazers practice. Further, Ramsay, Schuler, and Adelman would periodically open up their practices for the public to watch. But as the child of a JCC supervisor, my brother and I got special privileges—we got access to closed practices.
One of my favorite memories of a closed Blazers practice involved Alaa Abdelnaby, the only player in NBA history to have a name that rivals Jesus Shuttlesworth (fictional, but awesome) and God Shammgod. It was about twenty minutes before practice was supposed to start and a smattering of players were shooting around. The mood was very relaxed and Alaa Abdelnaby wanted to show his teammates his dunking aptitude (trying to prove he was worthy of sharing the air with Jerome Kersey and Clyde Drexler). As he took off for the basket, Abdelnaby let out a massive scream as he cocked the ball in both hands before throwing the ball toward the quivering net. However, Abdelnaby got overanxious and threw the ball too hard, as it hit the back of the rim and bounced fifteen feet in the air and past the half court line. Abdelnaby held onto the rim, lifted himself up and continued his scream, which reverberated throughout the gym. It was the most impressive missed dunk I have witnessed.
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