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Legendary Blazers broadcaster Bill Schonely retires

Portland Trail Blazers founding broadcaster Bill Schonely walks off the court with roses before their NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, March 20, 2012.  Schonely was the recipient of the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Award.
Don Ryan
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Portland Trail Blazers founding broadcaster Bill Schonely walks off the court with roses before their NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Schonely was the recipient of the 2012 Curt Gowdy Media Award.

It’s the end of an era in Rip City — the Portland Trail Blazers’ founding broadcaster Bill Schonely has announced his retirement.

Schonely, 92, has been a signature voice for the Blazers for over 50 years as a play-by-play broadcaster. He’s known for coining popular catchphrases like the Portland nickname “Rip City.”

In a Saturday press release, the Blazers said Schonely will be honored at the last home game of the season on Sunday, April 10 against the Utah Jazz.

Schonely was hired in 1970 by team founder Harry Glickman. He became a Blazers ambassador in 2003, making public appearances as part of the team’s community outreach.

“Bill has been a fixture of the Trail Blazers organization since its inception and will continue to be forever ingrained in this city,” Dewayne Hankins, president of business operations, said in the press release. “We thank Bill immensely for his 50+ years of hard work and everything he has given to our organization, the city of Portland and the entire NBA community.”

Schonely was the sixth employee hired to work for the Blazers. Over his career, Schonely called over 2,500 games, including the team’s NBA championship run in 1977.

During his many decades as a team broadcaster, Schonely only stepped away from the desk once in the 1980s, when he was recovering from heart surgery.

Schonely was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame for broadcasting in 1999. He also earned the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2012.

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