Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends" Series: Portland Great Rick Raivio
Jon Teitel: In 1974 you won a state title at Benson under legendary coach Dick Gray. What made Gray such a great coach and what did it mean to you to win the title?
Rick Raivio: We actually won a couple of state titles. Coach Gray would let you play regardless of whether you were a freshman or a senior, which is why I decided to go there. He kept things pretty simple, and kind of cut us loose and just let us play.
JT: Why did you choose to go to Portland?
RR: I did not have a lot of options at the time. Back then there was very little media coverage, so the only time that college coaches would watch you was in the state tourney. I was 6'5", and most coaches did not know where I could fit in on the court. Portland was the only school that gave me a scholarship.
JT: You remain the all-time leading rebounder in school history. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were, and do you think that anyone will ever break your record?
RR: I was always a pretty good rebounder. If you could not rebound offensively on some of the teams I played on, then you might not touch the ball at all! I have not thought about someone breaking the record, but since they play so many games now I imagine that a big man who plays for all four years could break it.
JT: In the summer of 1980 you were drafted in the 5th round by the Lakers but cut during training camp. Were you thrilled to realize your dream of getting drafted or disappointed that you did not make the team?
RR: I broke my ankle the previous year, and think I would have had a good shot if I were healthy. After 2-3 years in Europe, I think that I would have had a good crack at it if I had gone back to the NBA, but I have no regrets.
JT: You spent over a decade playing professionally in France and Belgium. What did you learn from these experiences, and how did they compare to college basketball?
RR: It was definitely different than college as pro basketball is a job. I tell my kids that if they do not have the passion for it, then they should not do it. My three boys were all born abroad, and I got to watch them grow up and travel all over Europe. All my expenses were covered, so it helped me save some money as we were starting to raise a family.
JT: Your son Derek played at Gonzaga where he was WCC Co-Player of the Year and finished his career as the #2 all-time free throw shooter in Division I history (92.7%). Were you the 1st person to teach him how to shoot free throws, and how do you think he is going to do in the D League?
RR: All the boys had a passion for playing so I never pushed them into basketball. My third son Matt was into BMX bicycles and skateboarding at first and only later got into basketball. I definitely helped them get the right shooting form once they got into the sport.
JT: Your son Nik played three years at Portland before heading overseas to play professionally. How much encouragement did you give him to go to Portland, and how do you think he is going to do as a pro?
RR: I was actually surprised that he went to Portland. He did well at a couple of good JCs (Northeastern JR and Santa Rosa), but the last place in the world I thought he would end up was Portland. As a player I think he is a late-bloomer, and he can now do a little of everything on the court. He is a complete player who previously just tried to be a point guard, but now he can rebound, get to the foul line, etc., so I think he has a real future as a basketball player.
JT: Was it a coincidence that you had such an athletic family or do your kids credit at least some of their success to genetics?
RR: My wife never really played sports but we definitely have athletic kids. Matt is only 6' tall but can dunk a ball with either hand. I think the boys are lucky to have genetics working for them as well, but my daughter might be the best athlete in the family!
JT: You currently work in real estate. How hard has the market been over the past few years, and what do you hope to do in the future?
RR: Being able to play in Europe allowed me to put some money into real estate, so that has been a good thing. It is certainly not the time to sell things if you do not have to. 2010 was okay but 2009 was horrible. Things have turned, but we still have a long way to go.
JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?
RR: I would like to be known as a hard worker who gave everything he had and competed in every game. I did whatever I had to do to win...legally that is!
Rick is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in WCC history.
Gonzaga: Adam Morrison (2006) 1867 PTS (#3), 2-time All-American, conference POY, national POY
Loyola Marymount: Hank Gathers (1990) 2490 PTS (#1), 985 REB (#2), 59 FG% (#2), All-American, conference POY
Pepperdine: Dana Jones (1994) 1677 PTS (#2), 1031 REB (#1), 211 STL (#1), 58.5 FG% (#2), conference POY
Portland: Rick Raivio (1980) 1668 PTS (#4), 910 REB (#1), 57.5 FG% (#1), 2-time All-American
St. Mary's: Daniel Kickert (2006) 1863 PTS (#1), 176 3PM (#4), 44.6 3P% (#2)
San Diego: Brandon Johnson (2010) 1790 PTS (#1), 525 AST (#1)
San Francisco: Bill Cartwright (1978) 2116 PTS (#1), 1137 REB (#3), 58,9 FG% (#1), 3-time All-American, 3-time conference POY
Santa Clara: Steve Nash (1996) 1689 PTS (#4), 510 AST (#2), 263 3PM (#1), 86.7 FT% (#1), 40.1 3P% (#1), All-American, 2-time conference POY