During his 80th birthday celebration here at Trail Blazers HQ, Bill Schonely regaled the staff with stories about the origins of three of his most famous catch phrases. The Schonz, never one to shy away from telling a story, recounted the histories of "bingo, bango, bongo," "lickety brindle up the middle," and, of course, "Rip City!" I had never heard any of these stories, so I thought it was only fair to share Schonely's comments with you as well.
The following are direct quotes from The Schonz. Enjoy.
Bingo, Bango, Bongo
"Bingo bango bongo is really an old golf phrase. You hit the ball out there, you put it on the green, and it’s in. It’s three shots: bingo, bango, bongo.
"Dave Twardzik in our championship year was a guy who used to go up the middle all the time and also Bobby Gross in those days. Let’s say Bobby inbounded the ball in the end zone to Twardzik, who threw it down to Maurice Lucas and he layed it up and in. That was bingo, bango, bongo."
Licktey Brindle Up The Middle
"As far as Dave Twardzik was concerned, he was nicknamed “Pinball”, and I used to say a lot of times I would call him that. But when he would drive up the lane, as some of these young kids are still doing today, I would say 'lickety brindle up the middle.'
"Where did lickety brindle come from? Well, when I was a little tyke back in Pennsylvania up in the Dutch Country my uncle had two little brindled dogs. We’d walk there on the weekends after church and spend Sunday afternoon with him and at other times. His dogs would be very quick and he would always say, ‘They’re lickety brindle. Look how quick they are.’ That came to me during a Trail Blazers game. Lickety brindle up the middle, and it worked."
"In 1970 I was trying to come up with a phrase that would be synonymous with my broadcast as well as the team, and I couldn’t figure out anything at all. Normally when you call a basketball game, all the clichés that you use, that was used. I wanted to try and upgrade that a little bit.
"The mighty Lakers came to town one time, actually for the first time in Memorial Coliseum, and we had our first 10,000 crowd. A typical Trail Blazer night: they were down by 25 or 26 points in those days. But all the sudden the game was changed.
"They’re playing Wilt Chamberlain and West and Rudy LaRusso, Gail Goodrich and all of the mighty Lakers in those days. And our group, Geoff Petrie, Rick Adelman, all the rest of those guys, they made a comeback. Jimmy Barnett was playing with us, former University of Oregon player, now one of the broadcasters for the Golden State Warriors. A longtime Oregonian and a good Blazers guy, a good NBA guy. He was a flake. He had all sorts of, not problems, but he was always doing some crazy things, not only here at home but on our travels.
"He came over the midcourt line, and in those days I was sitting right at midcourt. Not too many press people, Chuck Charnquist had his stat crew down here. Very small, maybe you’ve seen some of the old pictures. But Barney came over the midcourt line and for whatever reason -it would have been a three-point play in this day- he let it fly. I brought him out of the backcourt, he came over the midcourt line right in front of me -I’ll never forget it- and let it go. And I’m thinking why did he ever do that? Well lo and behold, in it went. At the end of my description, out came, ‘Rip City! All right!’ The crowd at the Coliseum was going crazy, the Lakers immediately called for a timeout.
"I sat back after the commercial cue and the guys were saying, ‘Rip City? Yeah, leave that in.’ So the rest is history. T shirts and signs and everything. It means something good, and we have something good going on right now. And Rip City is back."