For some, Trail Blazers fandom runs deeper than just flying the team colors, slapping a pinwheel on a car, and following them during the regular season. It’s a lifestyle choice. That true love for the Blazers can often burrow its way into other corners of an obsessive fan’s life. Got a passion for craft beer, apparel design, or helping the community and bringing likeminded folks together? Incorporate that red and black!

For those looking for more than just Blazers basketball this season, the following is a short list of unaffiliated, Blazers-tinted operations and communities you’ll want to keep tabs on. Go Blazers!!

Women’s Hoops and Talks

Tara Bowen-Biggs is a Portland native and a possessed Trail Blazers fan. She’s been running the Facebook group Women’s Hoops and Talks (WHAT) for three seasons.

“One evening after watching a game with a bunch of my guy friends, I realized I’d never done the same with all women,” says Bowen-Biggs. “Some of the most dedicated fans I know are women, so what would it be like to have a group over to watch the game, where no one was intimidated to speak up, and all types of fans were welcome?”

Bowen-Biggs wanted to make a safe space for women to enjoy Blazers basketball—a place where they could watch and appreciate a game regardless of their knowledge of basketball or the team. WHAT also meets up once a month to watch an away game, plus there’s Blazers-themed trivia at halftime, team swag giveaways, and general merriment. Last season Moda Health reached out and offered the group a suite for a preseason game (which they happily accepted).

While the meet-ups are intended for women, Bowen-Biggs wants WHAT to be fully inclusive.

“Men can come,” Bowen-Biggs says, “but they’re asked to remember they’re there to support and help amplify the voices of women. This is all about letting women drive the conversation.”

Gilgamesh Brewing’s “The Terry Porter”

Gilgamesh Brewing’s motto is “A Beer for Everyone.” Their eclectic array of beers and work with local charities, like Growing Gardens and Doernbecher Children’s Hospital Foundation, certainly lives up to this motto. So to show their appreciation for the Blazers—while raising some scratch for Doernbecher—they created a beer they call “The Terry Porter.”

Matt Radtke, one of the three brothers who started Gilgamesh, explains how the Terry Porter came to fruition:

“I put together a gift basket for a St. Jude Charity auction and wanted to bring more value to it. Terry [Porter] agreed to meet and sign some bottles. We got to talking about how he’s on the board of directors at Doernbecher. The idea came naturally to create a beer together and donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the beer.”

This will be the fourth season Gilgamesh has been brewing the Terry Porter, and according to Matt, sales from the beer has helped generate roughly $140K for Doernbecher. They expect that number to grow this year when they start offering the beer in cans come mid-November.

“[We] couldn’t ask for a better partner,” Radtke says of this Blazers legend. “Terry is a solid guy and has put in a lot of time and energy into helping promote the beer and the cause. We’re fortunate to work with him, and add to his legacy as a local Oregon hero.”

Trillblazin’

Sometimes officially licensed Trail Blazers merchandise doesn’t have the personality it should or could. If you’ve been looking for something with a bit more of an edge, look no further than Trillblazin’, a company started five years ago by Ira LaFontaine with Keith Kunis.

“We’d both grown up really into basketball and street culture,” Ira says. “Being from Portland, we’re huge Blazer fans, but we weren’t seeing anything that spoke to us apparel-wise. Team apparel and licensed stuff has always been really boilerplate, and we just wanted to be able to wear something that was a little more our style.”

Their line leans heavy on the glorious character that is Rasheed Wallace and his words of wisdom, “Ball Don’t Lie”—but Trillblazin’ brings in the new school whenever they can. They recently did a collaboration shirt with Portugal. The Man, and the Blazers’ big man himself, Jusuf Nurkić, has been spotted wearing Trillblazin’s’ Bosnian Beast shirt.

Much like Rasheed Wallace, Trillblazin’ apparel is brash and confident—the perfect brand for Ira’s prediction for the season ahead: “2018 summer league champs, 2019 NBA champs, baby.”

Support The Portland Mercury

Honorable Mentions

You don’t have to tune in to Comcast or Rip City Radio to get the latest developments and thoughts on the Blazers. Follow Blazers Edge and Rip City Project and see what other folks with Blazers on the brain are thinking.

Blazer Gang has some great, unlicensed merchandise as well, so go to blazergonian.com to buy yourself one of their “Rip City On They Ass” shirts, or any of the many other refinements they offer.