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Chuck Charnquist: The 'Answer Man'

04/17/13
  1. Written by: trailblazers  / avg. rating: 5.0



    BY WAYNE THOMPSON

    Chuck Charnquist has been the “Answer Man” for all things NBA long before the Internet was born. Over the history of the Portland Trail Blazers franchise, Charnquist has become the team's institutional memory, its lonely historian and its keeper of flames gone by. He's the team's quintessential stats guy, the man to whom members of the Portland news media turn whenever a Trail Blazers milestone is in the making. You want to know who scored Portland's first basket, go ask Chuck. You want to know who missed Portland's last shot last year -- or any year, for that matter -- go ask Chuck.

    Some league officials have called Charnquist the "Harvey Pollack of the West," recognizing that Chuck's skills and passion are in the same league as those of the long-time Philadelphia 76ers/Warriors statistician -- Harvey "SuperStat" Pollack. This, of course, is quite flattering because Pollack may be the only statistician who ever lived who can tell you how many angels have ever danced at one time on the head of a pin…Chuck wouldn't quarrel with Harvey's answer. That's not polite. He just would want to know what the old record was.

    That's the thing that has made Charnquist such an asset for the Trail Blazers over the past 40-something years. He's the guy always looking for answers to questions even when nobody is really asking for the answers.

    Just the other night in what has been dedicated the Chuck Charnquist Resource Room at the Rose Garden, someone asked aloud, "Who holds the Trail Blazers' record for free throws missed in the final quarter? No one really was asking Chuck for the answer, but he heard the question. That was enough to send him off into the archives, his home away from home. Five minutes, long after the original question was forgotten, Chuck hollered out, "Fourteen!"

    Question asked, question answered.

    Chuck always has the answers to questions like that. If not asked, he looks stuff up anyway, such as determining recently how many points and assists that Damian Lillard needed the rest of the season in order to become only the second Trail Blazer in history to score 1,500 points and deal out 500 assists in a single season. He even will tell inquiring minds that Clyde Drexler was the other Trail Blazer to do it, and then Clyde accomplished the feat twice.

    Chuck has always taken facts to the next level, turning them into evidence for a perspective that few people can grasp on their own.  Before his days as the Trail Blazers' “Answer Man,” Charnquist starred as a public relations master of meaningful data for Pacific University and Lewis and Clark College, so much so that The Oregonian's former City Editor Bob Landauer once pointed at Chuck as he left the newspaper office, telling everybody in listening distance, "There goes the best PR man in the business."

    You want to know who, what, when or why something happened. Go ask Chuck. He's got answers.

    PS: Without Chuck's almost daily support, including his ideas, his remarkable recall of events in Trail Blazers history, and his willingness to speak up and challenge me about the accuracy of anecdotes in the research and writing of the BlazerMania book, I could have never finished the work, let alone do it in the four months that the publisher allotted us. In hindsight, the book should have included Chuck as a co-author. On the other hand, he took all the fun out of the opportunity to make stuff up. A great mind and a wonderful friend -- that's the Chuck Charnquist I know and treasure.

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    Chuck Charnquist has been a Trail Blazer since the team was founded in 1970. Hired to run the team’s inaugural rookie camp, Chuck has also managed the stats crew and media room, wrote game notes and produced the team’s media guide for many years. Tonight, the team’s historian and archivist is serving as media room game manager for the final time. Chuck is an irreplaceable member of the organization whose wealth of knowledge and propensity for service will be greatly missed. The organization would like to thank Chuck for being a true Trail Blazer all these years.

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