Maurice Lucas and Bob Straub: Two of My Oregon Heroes

There is something in this photograph that I can’t get out of my head. I’m not sure I can define it. I just know it’s there and makes me feel wonderful.

It was taken by ace news photographer Gerry Lewin in the summer of 1977. The photograph is of a legendary bad ass, Maurice Lucas, starting power forward on the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers NBA Championship team, and Oregon Governor Bob Straub (and his wife Pat). Straub hosted a celebration barbecue for the team at his home in Salem a short time after the Blazers defeated the Philadelphia 76ers to win the title but this is not that occasion. I don’t know what the event was.

Look at that three-piece suit and tie. Look at Luke’s facial hair. Look how lean he was. It was one the highlights of my writing life to interview Lucas and include his oral history of the championship season in my book, Red Hot and Rollin.’ He was always my favorite Blazer and during our two-hour conversation he told me things about the team he had never disclosed to other reporters. Some of them were off the record and I have always honored that journalistic tradition and kept silent, even after Lucas died in 2010.

Look at Straub in his pin stripe suit. Look at the Governor of Oregon smiling. This is the same politician who, as State Treasurer in the late 1960s, saved my beloved Nestucca Spit from the insane proposal to relocate Highway 101 down this pristine stretch of sand. I took the dogs there about a thousand times when I lived in the area for a decade. It’s where I got my adult life going in the right creative direction. Nestucca Spit is now part of Bob Straub State Park and I consider it holy conservation ground in Oregon.

Lucas and Straub, together in suits, celebrating a sporting victory, two winners in my life, whose winning inspired me to create unique personal and creative moments in my life. I find it no coincidence that they met, that I met them both in body and spirit, or that I later came upon this truly remarkable Oregon photograph.