Jones intrigues fans, frightens foe
It wasn't much of a fight Ñ Roy Jones Jr. laid waste to Clinton Woods pretty much when he wanted to Ñ but it was a happening at the Rose Garden on Saturday night.
It wasn't all good. I'm not sure what was more bush league, Jones' self-glorifying pre-fight rap chant with a half-dozen dancing bimbettes as a backdrop, or the tacky tattoos advertising an on-line betting service decorating Woods' backside.
But Jones puts his mitts where his mouth is. His thunder-and-lightning fists and flash-dance feet petrified his opponent and fascinated the crowd of 16,229.
Despite the mismatch ('the Lakers vs. Cedar Rapids,' quipped fight fan Mychal Thompson), Jones' presence lent a rare air of excitement. HBO's luminaries of boxing broadcasting Ñ George Foreman, Jim Lampley and Larry Merchant Ñ were on the scene to call the debacle. There was the great Michael Buffer, preparing everyone to rumble. There was even the familiar sight of Rasheed Wallace, sitting near ringside, yelling at a referee. It was all great fun.
Among Lampley's observations about the night: 'Jones is unique. He will draw people to watch him who aren't necessarily boxing fans. This was more about Roy Jones Jr. than boxing. The crowd seemed to appreciate some of what they saw Ñ I don't understand why they booed for (Winky) Wright- (Bronco) McKart, which was a good fight. É (the fans) owe a debt of gratitude to Clinton Woods, who was brave enough to make Roy fight. That hasn't always happened.'
Could Jones make a return to fight here, against a more worthy opponent?
'That depends on whether Nike is willing to put up $1.5 million again to showcase him in their back yard at considerable financial loss,' Lampley said. 'But if Roy takes one of the fights we all want to see him take, it's not going to happen in a place like this.'
Translation: It will be in a casino in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, not Podunkville.
Charlie Denson, Nike's president, said the company did not take a financial bath: 'I think we did pretty well.'
Jones was in town training for three weeks and made several appearances in the community on Nike's behalf. 'He is a class act,' Denson said.
As for a future Nike-sponsored bout in town, Denson shrugged and said: 'I don't think we're getting into the fight business.'
• A high-ranking Blazer official denies a report that negotiations between Paul Allen and major league baseball could bring the Montreal Expos to Portland next season.
'I know of no discussions that have taken place,' the official says. 'Paul's name is linked to just about every opening in baseball or hockey. I'm not saying it wouldn't happen, but the report isn't accurate.'
Washington, D.C., has been considered the leading candidate if the Expos relocate. But other cities, including Portland, have been mentioned as possibilities.
• Bill Walton says he always has a great time when he returns to Oregon Ñ especially to see his Trail Blazer teammates of the 1970s.
That held true last month when he converged on Pendleton's Wildhorse Resort for a 25th anniversary reunion of the 1977 NBA championship team.
Ten players showed up, along with coaches Jack Ramsay and Jack McKinney, enticed, perhaps, by an appearance fee that one source suggested exceeded $5,000 per person.
'That wasn't what it was all about,' Walton says. 'I needed no convincing. Any time we get to have a championship team reunion, I am the first to sign up.
'I saw a lot of old friends. When I lived in Oregon, I spent a tremendous amount of time on the Indian reservations. It was great to see a lot of old friends, including many from the Native American community. And to get to hang with my old teammates. É I mean, it was a magical weekend.'
Walton said the highlight was Johnny Davis' tribute to McKinney at the closing banquet.
'He talked about the contributions Jack made, not only to our team but to basketball in general,' Walton says. 'It was absolutely spellbinding.'
It was Walton's first outing since an accident suffered while sea kayaking. He was clipped by a surfer and had to undergo surgery 'to connect the scars from my knee to my ankle,' he says. 'I'm just starting to get back from that.'
Walton will be busy next season. He will move over from NBC to become part of ABC/ESPN's first broadcasting team, which means he will call about three games a week and be a regular at ESPN Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN radio and 'SportsCenter.' 'My goal has always been to do everything,' he says.
He says he hasn't heard the fate of former broadcast partner Steve Jones, who is looking for a regular NBA gig but says this of the Portland native: 'Steve is as good a friend as I have ever had. He is a first-rate broadcaster and a first-rate person. I hope we get to work together again.'
• Walton has spent the last several seasons broadcasting games for the Los Angeles Clippers, which has given him a chance to watch new Trail Blazer Jeff McInnis in action.
Walton's appraisal: 'He is a very good player. The Clippers were at their best when McInnis was on the floor. He was the key to their winning. Portland has done a tremendous job solving some of its weaknesses. The three guards they have added over the last two years (McInnis, Antonio Daniels and Derek Anderson) all have size and athleticism. You are talking about a lot of heat from that backcourt.'
Might there be a problem with too many good players at the same position and not enough playing time to go around?
'You can never have too many good players,' Walton says. 'A couple of years ago, they had arguably the best roster in the history of basketball. They didn't capitalize by playing a fast enough game. The coaching change (from Mike Dunleavy to Maurice Cheeks) will be better for that.'
• Shawn Kemp not only won't be a problem in Orlando, he will be a big help to the Magic. Competing with Horace Grant, Andrew DeClerq and Olumide Oyedeji for playing time on the block, I will be surprised if Kemp doesn't become a starter. At. $1.03 million, he isn't a risk, as Orlando media have suggested. He is a bargain.