Terry Porter, the all-time assists leader for the Portland Trail Blazers, shared his passion for the game of basketball to eager learners in Camas, March 15.
The retired NBA veteran and ambassador spent three hours at Liberty Middle School announcing the Hoops for Heart basketball games between the students and faculty, and signing autographs whenever he could.
“It’s always fun for me to get into the community,” Porter said. “Basketball plays such an important part in my life. I get to meet people I never imagined in my wildest dreams.”
Jamie Moore, a health and fitness instructor, said Liberty Middle School partners with the American Heart Association through Hoops for Heart.
“March Madness is the culminating event that teaches our students the importance of heart health, exercise, nutrition and living tobacco free while having a great time playing basketball,” she said.
Tommy Geaslen, an eighth-grader at Liberty, has a connection with Porter. He calls him “Uncle Terry.” Geaslen’s mother, Molly, worked as a nanny for the Porters for more than three years. The families remain close and get together on special occasions.
“Tommy asked Terry at Christmas Eve dinner if he would come announce for us,” said Molly Geaslen. “Terry is such a wonderful asset to our community. He’s all about the kids.”
The last time Porter visited Camas, Liberty Middle School was still the old Camas High School. He was shocked to hear that the city is now home to more than 20,000 residents.
“I’m excited to be here, but I don’t think any of these kids saw me play,” Porter said. “They might have to go home and ask mom and dad who I am.”
Portland selected Porter as the 24th pick in the 1985 NBA Draft. He helped the Blazers reach the NBA Finals in 1990 and 1992, and was a two-time All-Star in 1991 and 1993. He is the franchise leader with 5,319 assists. His No. 30 jersey was retired by the organization on Dec. 16, 2008.
The young Lions appreciated the time Porter spent at their school, and hearing his voice every time they made a big play on the court.
“It was great to see the enthusiasm from the students and faculty,” Porter said. “This is what March Madness is all about, competing and having fun.”
Porter still lives in Portland and remains involved in the Trail Blazer organization. Not many NBA fans figured the Blazers having a winning season without LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicholas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez, but Portland (36-35) sits in sixth place in the Western Conference standings with 11 games left.
“I think everybody is pleasantly surprised to see them play at such a high level and have the ability to sustain that,” Porter said. “They play hard, they enjoy each other’s company and they compete every night.”
Porter said these young Camas basketball players could learn a lot by watching today’s Trail Blazers.
“You can’t believe what critics say about you,” he said. “Never underestimate the power of people coming together and trusting each other.”