Not My Job: We Ask NBA Star Terry Porter About Trailblazers In the 1990s, the Portland Trail Blazers were one of the most dominant teams in the NBA. We've invited one of the team's stars to answer three questions about people who've blazed their own trails.
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Not My Job: We Ask NBA Star Terry Porter About Trailblazers

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

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

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

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/483377770/483516016" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Terry Porter of the Portland Trail Blazers drives against the Los Angeles Lakers during a game in April 1988 in Los Angeles.
Mike Powell/Getty Images

Back in the 1990s, the Portland Trail Blazers were one of the most dominant teams in the NBA. They went to the finals twice (and might have won it all if hadn't been for that pesky Michael Jordan fellow.) Since we're in Portland this week, we've invited Terry Porter, one of the stars of the Trailblazers, to answer three questions about other people who've blazed their own trails.

Click the link above to listen.

PETER SAGAL, HOST:

And now the game where we ask people who do one thing really well to do another thing entirely. Back in the '90s, one of the most dominant teams in the NBA was the Portland Trailblazers. The...

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: It's true.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: They went to the finals twice, and they would have easily won it all if it weren't for that pesky Michael Jordan fellow. And a star of those great Portland teams was Terry Porter. He stayed in Portland to coach at the University of Portland. We are delighted to have him with us. Terry Porter, welcome to WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

(APPLAUSE)

TERRY PORTER: This is awesome.

SAGAL: All right. So, I mean, the NBA finals just finished earlier this week.

PORTER: Yes.

SAGAL: So you're here. You're an NBA star. Got to ask you - who's the greatest player of all time? Is it LeBron James, Steph Curry, Michael Jordan or yourself?

(LAUGHTER)

PORTER: Are we being honest?

SAGAL: Oh, yeah.

PORTER: Oh, myself.

SAGAL: Absolutely.

PORTER: (Laughter).

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Now, you - so you came out of - you grew up in Milwaukee, right?

PORTER: Yes.

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

PORTER: Yes.

(APPLAUSE)

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

PORTER: No, no. They didn't have any one-and-done candidates there.

SAGAL: No, none of that.

PORTER: Like, four-and-done.

SAGAL: Right. 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.

(LAUGHTER)

PORTER: Turned out God has better plans.

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.

(LAUGHTER)

PORTER: He came across the middle.

SAGAL: I understand, man.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

PORTER: Yeah.

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

PORTER: It was hard.

(LAUGHTER)

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...

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Really?

PORTER: Yeah.

SAGAL: 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.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: That is cold.

PORTER: It's mean.

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

PORTER: Yes, go Pilots.

SAGAL: Right.

(APPLAUSE)

PORTER: Go Pilots.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So I want to ask you about speeches.

PORTER: Yes.

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

PORTER: Yes.

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

PORTER: Yeah.

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.

PORTER: Yeah.

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?

(LAUGHTER)

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

(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...

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Imagine we are your basketball team.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I know. Just go with me.

PORTER: OK.

SAGAL: It's radio - theater of the mind, man.

PORTER: OK. All right.

SAGAL: Theater of the mind. And we're - 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.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I want to hear your motivational speech.

PORTER: Are we down or up?

SAGAL: We're down. We're definitely down.

PORTER: We're down - like, big time?

SAGAL: Look at us, man.

PORTER: OK, all right.

MAZ JOBRANI: We shouldn't even be here.

SAGAL: I know. So what do you say? What do you say?

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: That's it.

JOBRANI: There you go.

SAGAL: All right.

JOBRANI: Nice, there you go.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Do you players - you were in the NBA, obviously - a big star for a long time. Did the players ever, like, get ideas in their head about getting to the NBA? Do you ever find yourself saying to your students - your student athletes - no, man, it's not going to be that way?

PORTER: No, I don't crush dreams.

SAGAL: No.

PORTER: I build them up.

SAGAL: Right.

PORTER: I build them up.

SAGAL: Right.

PORTER: I build them up.

SAGAL: Right.

PORTER: I build them up to let them know that if they work extremely hard, they can maybe somebody become a Terry Porter.

(APPLAUSE)

PORTER: I mean, 'cause, you know...

GOLDTHWAIT: So you would tell me...

PORTER: Well, I didn't say you.

GOLDTHWAIT: OK.

PORTER: I didn't say you. I mean...

GOLDTHWAIT: That I had a shot...

PORTER: I mean...

GOLDTHWAIT: ...At 54.

PORTER: Well, I heard they're going to open up a 50-and-over league, so you definitely would have a shot.

(LAUGHTER)

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

BILL 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 two out of three 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 right here somewhere.

(APPLAUSE)

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...

(LAUGHTER)

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?

PORTER: Yes.

SAGAL: No, actually, no.

PORTER: 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.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

PORTER: Shag, I would say.

SAGAL: You're right. It was shag.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDTHWAIT: 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.

GOLDTHWAIT: He...

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.

GOLDTHWAIT: OK.

JOBRANI: He's the original Trump.

SAGAL: Pretty much.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, actually not in any way, Maz, now that I think about it.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right. All right. But hang on. 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.

(LAUGHTER)

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

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBERS: Spork. B. Spork. B.

SAGAL: The crowd is shouting.

(LAUGHTER)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

PORTER: I go with the spork.

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

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

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.

(APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Terry Porter, ladies and gentleman.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BASKETBALL")

KURTIS BLOW: (Singing) They're playing basketball. We love that basketball. They're playing basketball.

SAGAL: In just a minute, get out your feather duster, it's time for chores in our Listener Limerick Challenge. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We'll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME from NPR.

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