Granted this is not a hugely significant news item, but in an Oregonian article about Greg Oden last week they happened to mention at the end that he plans to get rid of his suburban place near the Blazers' practice facility and move into a condo in either the Pearl District or South Waterfront. Apparently fellow Blazer Channing Frye already has a condo in SoWa, as does New Orleans Hornets' forward Desmond Mason (whose wife is from here). Fye, in fact, said he plans to live in his Portland SoWa condo regardless of whether he goes to another NBA team down the road.
Obviously NBA players are not like the rest of us, but it's interesting to see how sometimes their choices about anything from fashion to entertainment to housing can act as somewhat of a bellwether case.
Neither Oden, Frye or Mason is any kind of urbanist per se. But Blazer players have usually lived in either the suburbs (be it banal Tigard or tony Dunthorpe/Lake Oswego) or the West Hills. What does it say that Blazers are buying in, both figuratively and literally, to the changing face of urban Portland?
Most of us aren't millionaires like NBA players, but being rich, young, and coming from places all around the country, it's interesting to see what parts of Portland they gravitate too. I remember when I was growing up in the 1980s hearing that Oregon's beauty and Portland's niceness were an asset in attracting and retaining talent. Other times, it seemed like most players felt Portland was too much of a backwater burg -- and too white -- to feel like a home. Has the pendulum shifted again?
Oh, and Greg: maybe they'll put a jeweler in the ground floor of one of those condos - a place where you can get your championship ring(s) adjusted without even walking out into the rain.