Beyond the Backboard: Dustin & Dillon

Holy Backboard

By Dustin Hawes

After interning for the Portland Trail Blazers during the 2008-09 season, I decided to put my passion to paper and started Holy Backboard as a blog primarily to pass the time and keep my sanity during unemployment. The blog turned into a sporadic podcast whenever my good friend Matt and I would get together.

In the fall of 2009 I was fortunate enough to be offered a part-time position with the organization and Holy Backboard was put on the back-burner as it’s incredibly difficult maintaining a Trail Blazers-centric blog when you’re employed by the team you’re writing about. It’s not like I could come out and say “Why is Steve Blake getting the start over Andre Miller?!”

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend 2012. I met Sage while recording an episode of Holy Backboard at the KPSU studios and we instantly hit it off. Between playing pick-up basketball and Sage watching my cats while I was out of town, it was only a matter of time before we matched his audio expertise with my love for the Trail Blazers.

Starting with the 2015-16 season, Sage and I began recording weekly podcasts which has now spanned over 200 episodes!

How did you become a fan?

Dillon: My Rookie year was the same as Dame’s 2012. I met Dustin, and he took me to all the games that year. Fell in love with the team that year.

Photo via Cameron Browne (left), Steve Dykes (right)

Dustin: Before I go into my memory, the above photo showcases Dame’s first-ever game winning shot open the Hornets’ Ryan Anderson. When I worked for the team, I was able to request free tickets to the game to hand out to friends and family. With Sage being a New Orleans fan, I sent two tickets his way and he used to them to take a date. Knowing Dame hit buzzer-beater over Sage’s-then favorite player it equal parts poetic and hilarious.

Anyways, back to my answer … I remember being five years old in the summer of 1990. My dad was the store manager of Albertsons and there was a barbecue fundraiser taking place in the parking lot, which my mom dragged me to. I must’ve been pretty antsy or bored, likely both, because my mom handed me a couple bucks and told me to go inside and buy some basketball cards. To my delight there were packs of 1990-91 Series 1 Skybox available. While opening the packs, I became mesmerized with the card designs and came to find out my home state had a team; I was instantly hooked.

Either in the fall of 1990 or 1991, my parents and grandparents took me to Gill Coliseum for a preseason game between the Trail Blazers and SuperSonics. I still have a photo of Clyde Drexler driving to the basket against a young Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton hanging in my Blazer room.

Favorite player growing up?

Dillon: My favorite players growing up are Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson.  Currently, my favorite players would be Damian Lillard, Jrue Holiday, and Chris Paul.

Photo via Rocky Widner/NBAE Getty Images

Dustin: Clyde Drexler. I have no idea how the city of Albany, Oregon pulled it off, but Clyde Drexler spent an entire afternoon inside the JC Penney signing autographs. Young Dustin waited what seemed like an eternity outside, but it was all worth it. When it was my turn to meet The Glide, he smiled, shook my hand, and said “How ya doin’, big guy?

Favorite Blazer All-Time?

Dillon: Damian Lillard

Dustin: I refuse to pick a favorite among Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, and Damian Lillard.

Favorite current Blazer?

Dillon: Damian Lillard

Dustin: Damian Lillard

Who would be your All-Time Blazers Starting 5?

Dillon: Damian, Clyde, Roy, Sheed, Walton.

Dustin: Lillard, Drexler, Kersey, Wallace, Walton with Porter as my 6th Man off the bench.

Favorite Trail Blazers moment? 

Dillon: I was in the RG for the “Bad Shot” over Paul George. Being in that arena, feeling the crowd’s energy was a different vibe than I’ve ever experienced. I went to Monday Night NFL Saints vs. Falcons during the championship season, and I didn’t feel energy like that!

Photo via Getty Images

Dustin: Unfortunately, I was too young to really capture the moments of the early 90’s Blazers clinching Conference Championships in Phoenix and Salt Lake City in 90 and 92. While I was on top of the world after Game 6 of the 2000 Western Conference Finals, choosing that as my favorite memory feels hollow given what happened the following game. Watching the NBA Draft Lottery unfold with my wife and good friend in 2007 was incredible and that elation has rarely been matched since, but like 2000, knowing what came next dappens those emotions.

With that all said, it comes down to two moments: 0.9 versus Houston in 2014 and the “Bad Shot” against Oklahoma City in 2019. There’s no wrong answer and determining which shot was better is subjective based upon each individual fan’s sentimental value. Both shots sent opponents packing. One happened in the bat of an eye, the other felt like time had slowed to a snail’s pace.

I’ll go with the “Bad Shot” as my favorite moment for a few reasons. First and foremost, I was actually working during 0.9 as the manager of the Trail Blazers social media channels. After the shot splashed through the net, I was joyous for all of ten seconds before getting back to the grind of creating non-stop content. During the “Bad Shot,” I was able to enjoy the game up in the 300-level with my wife and Sage. Seeing Dame not only take but make that 37-ft three-point shot will never be matched in an NBA game again. Being able to hug my wife and Sage, high-five strangers, and yell at the top of my lungs was a feeling I won’t soon forget. In addition to my personal emotions tied to the “Bad Shot,” I feel the storylines were stronger with the Thunder as Westbrook, George, and company stirred the pot the entire series before Lillard had the last laugh. And the reactions. Unforgettable. First Lillard waves OKC off the court then the camera catches him calming nodding as his teammates are piling on top of him.

Favorite Holy Backboard memory?

Dillon: Oh goodness, that is a tough question. We have produced 209 official episodes of the Holy Backboard. Each of them is special. I think the most memorable episode for me is Episode 117 with Nila Madison. If you end up seeing this, Nila, I ❤ you.

Dustin: Suck up. Calling my shot and predicting the 2015-16 Trail Blazers would beat the 73-win Warriors at home right around the All-Star Break. Also, the entire 2019 postseason was special, recording late-night episodes just hours after the Blazers came away with one incredible victory after another.

Favorite Trail Blazers team? 

Dillon: The Blazers 2019 Playoff run was the time this team has provided me the most joy. The way that the roster was resilient and fought for one another was a fantastic experience.

Photo via Willamette Week

Dustin: 1990-91. My first love. The team that got me into basketball and played a huge role in me becoming the fan I am today.

If you could replay one game in team history what would it be and why?

Dillon: It had to be game seven vs. the Lakers in 2000. While googling this game, I noticed that every single Blazers site had developed specialized content for this particular game. While I wasn’t a fan of the team during that game, I’m well aware of how much it has affected Blazers fans.

Dustin: My first thought to this question was ‘which one?’ All Blazer fans know we’ve experienced our fair share of heartbreak in Rip City.

Let’s talk this out … In 1991, Portland finished with a league-best 63 wins, which awarded them home court advantage throughout the playoffs. Over their three-year dominance of the Western Conference from 1989-1992, the Trail Blazers were an astounding 25-1 in the postseason at Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The lone defeat? Game 1 of the 91 Western Conference Finals against the rival Lakers. Portland blew a 12-point fourth quarter lead, allowing the Lakers to steal home court, momentum, and ultimately, the series.

Sticking with the 91 Conference Finals, Game 6 is also a candidate for a mulligan. Portland had countless chances to take the lead late but could capitalize. Terry Porter, Portland’s top clutch performer from that bunch, missed a wide-open jumper in the closing seconds which sent the Lakers to the Finals. Portland wins and it’s Game 7 back at the crazy Coliseum. 

Two other early 90’s choices would be Game 3 against Detroit in the 1990 Finals. A win and Portland goes up 2-1 on the defending champs with two more still to go in front of the BlazerManiacs. How can we forget Game 6 of the 92 Finals? Portland was up 15 heading into the fourth … Where have we heard that story before? Had the Blazers closed it out, they would have been the only team to force Jordan’s Bulls to a seventh and deciding game in the Finals.

Photo via Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE Getty Images

With all that said, I have to agree with Sage: we’re going back to 2000 and replaying Game 7 of the  Western Conference Finals. At 15, I was emotionally invested much more so than when I was six. Not only did we have the chance to knock off an all-time Lakers team but do so in 3-1 fashion. It’s painful even more knowing the Blazers would have been heavy favorites to beat the Pacers for the Finals, Trade Bob doesn’t blow up the team, and there’s a high likelihood the team goes back-to-back the following year.

Best game you’ve attended in person?

Dillon: Game five vs. the Thunder

Dustin: Same. Although, the four overtime game against Denver in Game 3 the following round gives it a run for its money.

If you purchased the Trail Blazers, what would be your first move?

Dillon: Have more transparency, establish a horizontal structure of decision making for coaching and basketball ops, hire more coaches, scouts, and advanced analytics people.

Dustin: Retire Jerome Kersey’s No. 25 jersey.

Who is your Blazers GOAT?

Dillon: I think my GOAT is Dame, but Clyde, Bill, and the rest of the Blazers greats built an excellent structure for Damian.

Dustin: Dame. My rationale would need an entire blog post, so I’ll just leave it at Lillard. 

Why podcasting?

Dillon: I worked in radio since 2009, worked behind the mic; behind the scenes, I wanted to use the skills that I learned from working in radio to podcasting and create content that resonated with me.

Dustin: A great way to not only spend time with your friends but also talk about the team you love. It’s a complete win-win for me.

If you could magically undo one trade in team history what would it be and why?

Dillon: The worst trade, in my opinion, was trading away Jermaine O’Neal. Once Jermaine left Portland, he became a top big man in the league, and we could have used him throughout the years.

Photo via @trailblazers

Dustin: There’s two choices here and since Sage took the Jermaine for Dale Davis swamp, I will go with Drazen Petrovic. As part of a three-team deal with Denver and New Jersey, Portland sent Petro packing to the Meadowlands and, in exchange, received an aging Walter Davis at the 1991 trade deadline. Davis failed to make much of an impact the rest of the season and was not part of the roster the following year. Petro, on the other hand, blossomed in New Jersey, eventually becoming an All-Star and All-NBA performer before tragically passing away in a car accident in the summer of 93. Had Portland kept Petro (and Coach Adelman played him), they likely would have another Larry O’Brien trophy in the case.

Both trades are examples of GMs panicking and not listening to the players. Whether we’re looking at Drazen or Jermaine, each of their teammates would remember how dominant they played in practice and just needed more time.

What does being part of the Rip City community mean to you?

Dillon: Being a part of the community has been great. The community has given me a chance to make some fantastic friends and share the game I love. I’m forever indebted to the Rip City Community.

Dustin: We truly have one of the most passionate fan bases in all of sports. It’s amazing sharing my love for this team with others who appreciate the fandom as much as I do.

If you’ve made it this far, you’re a real one.

Much love, Dustin & Dillon.

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