Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Talking with Travis: Oregon Love

(Yesterday we looked into Travis Outlaw not feeling the love. Today, we touch on Outlaw feeling Oregon)

As longtime Oregonians, it’s sometimes difficult to hear our beloved Trail Blazers talk about life in the Portland metro-area. It never feels like disrespect, but every now and then you can sense the vague presence of hurt feelings emanate from the fanbase when a player talks about there not being much to do in their little corner of the country. Sure, that declaration is usually used as explanation as to why many of the guys spend extra time in the gym or manage to stay out of trouble, which are both undeniably good things, but it’s slightly disheartening to hear nonetheless. After all, Oregonians are unabashedly proud of their state, so it’s not surprising that they’re desperate to foster a kinship of proximity with the players they so furiously support. They want their players, guys whom they consider their own, to love life in the Pacific Northwest as much as they do.

As it turns out, maybe the conversion from NBA player who lives in Oregon to Oregonian who plays in the NBA just takes a bit of time. Say, six years. That’s how long it has taken Travis Outlaw, the longest tenured player on Portland’s roster, to come to the realization that Oregon ain’t half bad.

“Oregon is fun,” said Outlaw. “People be like ‘Man, what you do out there?’ I tell people Oregon is definitely fun. I’m having the most fun. I’ve been here six years so I kind of know what’s going on with everything, so Oregon is becoming fun to me. I’m like (turns head as if surveying the Oregon landscape) ‘Ooh!, Ooh!, Ooh!’”

If anyone should take a shine to good old Oregon, it’s Outlaw. An avid angler and animal lover, Travis shares many of the laidback, you-do-your-thing-and-I”ll-do-mine values that Oregonians cherish. Travis is always going rep Mississippi, and he’ll probably always be more flathead catfish than Chinook salmon, but hearing him talk about Oregon, you can see that the Beaver State has made inroads into his heart.

“I’m a country boy, and ya’ll got a lot of things that you can do outside,” said Outlaw. Nature walks and all that stuff? That’s cool. I can go out and walk my dog wherever. There’s a lot of stuff here to do.”

Now that Outlaw has realized what a special place Oregon is, maybe he can work on convincing some of his friends in the locker room.


scottst said...

I'd love to go fishing with the guy. He'd be way fun to hang out with. - S.

sarah said...

We'll go for a hike with you Trav....
Meet up after the game? Call us...
-Joy and Sarah

Raymond said...

man Travis go hook into a big Sturgeon in the Columbia river or the bay in Tillamook bay. and tell me thats not more fun then catfish. they are fresh water wales.

hg said...

Travis: I live in Central Oregon. game watching because of Comcast is bad but if you think Portland is fun, come across The Cascades to our neck of the woods. Fishing and Nature is just out your back door.


Tom said...

Too bad he doesn't hang out in the summer and go camping. I don't know anyone who camps in the south though.

Joshua said...

Coming right after "Outlaw the Hated," this is the "makeup call" of blog posts.

(Still, I'm pro-Travis and I'm glad to see the love being spread in either direction.)

Joshua said...

Coming right after "Outlaw the Hated," this is the "makeup call" of blog posts.

(Still, I'm pro-Travis and I'm glad to see the love being spread in either direction.)

Torrid said...

Joshua, he said it was the first of a series, so Casey knew he was writing Part II when he published Part I, I assume.

One thing Casey doesn't bring up that I think has salience is the issue of race. Flat out, there just aren't many black folk living in Oregon--especially compared to the South. There are good things and bad things about that. In a good way, I think it 'forces' integration on African Americans here, whereas when I lived in the South, it seemed to me that greater numbers allowed AAs to exist more in their own world rather than cross-culturalizing with the wider society. At the same time though, a smaller group of folks can tend to foster a tighter bond within the black culture--such as PDX's hiphop community. For the percentage of minorities in this town, the hip-hop scene is WAY better than you might expect, and I think that's partially due to how tight-knit and supportive of each other than they are. In a bigger city, things get more anonymous.

The downside is that while black folks are mingling and cross-culturalizing more here, it impacts the diversity WITHIN the minority. And that's where I think you hear the refrain "there ain't nothing to do here." The top BBQ in this town is few and far between. There's what, one "urban" radio station? Other than Jimmy Mak's, where can you go for good jazz? How about soul food? Nail salons? Etc. etc. I don't mean to suggest that everything black folks do for fun is always "black-related," but think about what it must be like for people of ANY color to move to the PNW, especially from the South. My wife is southern born and bred, and she feels a palpable difference. So now on top of that situation, taking away all the things you remember from home, narrow it down still further to the "black culture" things from home, and you see why NBA players have never flocked to the Northwest.

Finally, along with Travis we read in WWeek a couple of issues ago that Channing Frye LOVES Portland, and really gets into the quirky (white) culture here--proving that there's not some monolithic "black community." But I think for many African American players and coaches, the place takes some getting used to.