Bill Schonely Rumors
Jones was a three-time All-Star in eight ABA seasons, averaging 16.0 points in 640 regular-season games for Oakland, New Orleans, Memphis, Dallas, Carolina, Denver and St. Louis. He finished his career with Portland in 1975-76, averaging 6.5 points in 64 games in his lone NBA season. “Steve was as positive and good-natured a broadcasting partner as I could have had,” Blazers broadcast partner Bill Schonely said. “He loved to call me ‘Pops’ as a nickname, and we worked very well together on Trail Blazers games during some of the early years of the franchise. He was a terrific guy.”
Jerome Kersey died Wednesday. He was 52. And when you’re hit with a bag of bricks like that you shake your head to keep the room from spinning, you say a prayer and you make the first telephone call. Bill Schonely picked up on the first ring. “I saw Jerome today,” Schonely said. “I see him every morning in the office. We said hello to each other. I gave him a hard time because he was supposed to be on crutches after a knee surgery he had (Monday). We parted ways. It was like any other day — until he was gone.”
Schonely said Kersey scheduled his minor knee surgery for the end of the NBA All-Star break because he didn’t want to miss any Blazers games this season. Kersey had a minor meniscus repair on his left knee and showed up to work on Wednesday without crutches because he felt so good.
The legendary voice of the Portland Trail Blazers has an airplane to catch, and a speech to write, and the Basketball Hall of Fame waits for no one, but before that, there’s more important business. “I’m getting a haircut right now,” he said on the other end of the telephone. Bill Schonely got that haircut on Tuesday. He packed his bags, and looked over an itinerary that will include a flight for him and his wife, Dottie, on Wednesday morning to Newark, N.J. then a limousine ride to Springfield, Mass., where he’ll be honored on Thursday with the Curt Gowdy Award for Broadcasting.
This is big stuff in Schonely’s life. As close as a Hall of Fame induction gets for a broadcaster. And so a professional life spent describing the actions of others culminates with Schonely left to speak about himself. And he began on Tuesday by telling me he’s glad he finally called his son, Steve, this year. Even as Schonely was in so many of your living rooms, being a regular part of so many families, speaking to so many of you over the years, he hadn’t spoken to his son in some time. “We weren’t on good terms. It was one of those things, ‘Who’s going to give first?'” Schonely said. “I found out that he was ill, and I decided I needed to call. I’m just happy that he left the world knowing that he and I were on good terms.” They talked recently and agreed it had been too long. And last week, Steve died after a battle with cancer. He was 61, went to high school in Seattle, and lived in Hawaii. Doctors had diagnosed him with terminal cancer, given him three to six months to live. Said his father: “He made a month.”