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Former Blazer staffer marvels at All-Star role

Fifteen years ago, Dan Burke was in his late 20s, looking at a career as a high school teacher and coach.

A week ago Sunday, Burke was on the Eastern Conference bench at Staples Center, an assistant coach in the NBA All-Star Game.

'Where I am at right now shocks me, to be perfectly honest,' says Burke, a 1977 Sherwood High graduate.

In 1989, Burke joined the Trail Blazers as video coordinator. He worked in that capacity for eight years, and when former Blazer assistant coaches Dick Harter and Rick Carlisle moved to Indiana to serve on Larry Bird's coaching staff in 1997, Burke went along, too.

Burke, 44, has been with the Pacers ever since, first as assistant coach and scouting coordinator and, this season, strictly as an assistant coach. Since Indiana has the best record in the East, Carlisle was chosen to coach the East squad and Burke got to coach with him. It was his second time at the All-Star Game Ñ he went with Bird in 1998 Ñ but his first time on the bench.

'It has been a great ride,' Burke says. 'When I started, I figured, 'I'll give this a try for a while, and if it doesn't pan out, I'll go become a high school coach.'

'Now I'm a product of Larry's loyalty, I guess. He likes guys who can keep their mouth shut and work their tails off.'

• Dale Davis was in Los Angeles at the same time as the All-Star Game, but not to participate in it. The veteran Blazer center's W.A.R. Entertainment played host to a promotional party for the company's first feature film, 'Playa's Ball,' which is scheduled for release in theaters in Atlanta and Portland on March 12.

The movie was shot in L.A. and completed at a cost of just under $1 million last February Ñ four months before Kobe Bryant's arrest. Coincidentally, the script parallels much of the Laker star's case.

'It is based on a squeaky-clean NBA star who gets caught up in a fraudulent paternity suit and gets accused of rape,' Davis says. 'He gets his reputation torn down, and he builds it back up. It's something that hits home with a lot of things that could happen Ñ and in this case, did happen Ñ in professional sports and today's society.'

• From 1999 to 2002, Theo Ratliff missed 134 of 246 games while with Philadelphia and Atlanta due to wrist and hip injuries. During that time, medical specialists determined he was calcium and mineral deficient. The Blazer center began taking supplements and has been healthy since.

Last month, the company American Longevity began to market a high-energy sports drink called Reboundfx that offers the antioxidants, natural herbs and minerals that have helped Ratliff stay healthy.

'I drink it before and during the game,' says Ratliff, the product's principal endorser. 'It combines all the things that helped me rebuild my body, got my bones strong and helped me play at 100 percent level.'

Information is available at http://members.americanlongevity.net/users/theoratliff on the Web.

• Portland promoter Mike Nealy says corporate support is picking up for a Portland International Raceway stop on the Champ Car World Series, formerly CART.

'If I was a betting man, I'd bet I know where the Champ Cars will be in June,' he says.