Portland Trail Blazers: An interview with Curtis Long, Moda Center PA announcer

Portland Trail Blazers, Curtis Long (photo courtesy of Curtis Long)
Portland Trail Blazers, Curtis Long (photo courtesy of Curtis Long) /

Some Portland Trail Blazers games at the Moda Center, or even on your TV and radio, you might be listening for Mark Mason, the familiar in-arena voice excitedly announcing the Blazers lineup and other announcements. Wait a minute…that’s not Mason you’re hearing. Who is this?

Meet Curtis Long, the Principal at Scouter’s Mountain Elementary in Clackamas, the statistician for the Trail Blazers Radio Network, and fill in PA for Mason.

“I think I have the best of both worlds–lots of days, I get to work two jobs that I absolutely love!” said Long, who is also the proud dad of three boys, 19, 15, and 13. Long went on to say, even in the Covid times, it’s still the greatest job in the world. “getting a chance to watch the faces of young kids light up when they learn to read, or suddenly understand tricky math problems. Sure, that’s been on a computer for most of this school year, but the kids have started to return to school in person this month, which makes it more fun.”

When his day is over at the school and with his students, Long will leave for the Moda Center on game nights to provide stats for Travis Demers (radio announcer) or even fill in for Mason.

“When you hear Travis say something like, ‘That’s a 14-3 Trail Blazers run’ or ‘Dame has the last 11 Blazers points,’ that’s often me giving him that information behind the scenes. During Covid times, I’m doing that job from home and constantly sending Travis messages throughout each game.”

“Of course, nobody really knows who the behind-the-scenes radio statistician is. But they do know who the voice of the Moda Center is…and I’m so honored to have the opportunity to fill in for the great Mark Mason when needed.” Long was also the voice of the WNBA’s Portland Fire when Portland had a franchise. “The Trail Blazers Operations crew has been so wonderful to work with every time I get the chance.”

A typical game day for Long consists of, Todd Bosma (Director of Game Ops & Events) and his crew sending him a script 3-4 hours before tip-off, and it’s usually pages and pages of all the announcements and contests during the game.

“I read through every one of them several times before arriving at the arena, just to make sure I have all the pronunciations correct,” Long said. “I do the same thing with team rosters. There’s nothing worse than coming to an unfamiliar name during live action that you’ve never rehearsed or practiced before. In a non-Covid year, the whole crew meets an hour or so before game time to go over every detail of every timeout and quarter break. This season, however, the PA Announcer is assigned to a totally different safety zone than the Game Ops Crew, so I can only see them from a distance across the arena and hear them in my headset.”

Long is a lifelong fan of the Trail Blazers, and on non-game days, he is like every other fan, listening to sports radio (he co-hosted the 5th Quarter show before the pandemic) and wondering about the latest Blazers trade rumors, and looking up stats he can use during the next radio broadcast.

If given a chance to relive, or to call a past Blazer game, the principal, radio statistician, and fill-in PA would choose the 2014 playoff game against the Houston Rockets when Damian Lillard hit the series-winning shot with .9 to go and grabbed the mic, yelling, ‘Rip Cityyyyyyy!!’ “How great was that? That moment will live on forever.” Long said he was really young when the Blazers won the title in the Coliseum but couldn’t imagine how awesome it would have been to be on the PA mic through the game and part of the Blazermania pandemonium that took place after.

Long even offered advice for kids, just learning about the game and future Trail Blazers fans of all ages by saying, “I’m sure there are kids out there right now who, like me when I was their age, dreamed of playing for the Trail Blazers someday.  Don’t give up on your dreams– sure, not everyone makes it to the NBA, but it doesn’t mean you can’t eventually work for your favorite team.  And for fans who are just becoming Blazermaniacs, all I can say is embrace it.  Win or lose; it’s worth the ride.  In my mind, nothing unites this city more than when the Trail Blazers are on a winning streak or advancing in the playoffs.  When they’re winning and coming out of that tunnel for the next game, every fan…wherever they may be…feels a sense of pride.  Just like Mark Mason, says, ‘Here comes your HOME TEAM.;'”

The next time you hear the voice on the Moda Center PA, and it isn’t Mark Mason’s, you’ll likely know who it is you’re hearing. Curtis Long’s.

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