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Portland travelblog: Roadside robbery in broad daylight

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A Cadillac Escalade sits without wheels in front of the Lloyd Center mall. (Photo by Berry Tramel)
A Cadillac Escalade sits without wheels in front of the Lloyd Center mall. (Photo by Berry Tramel)


Our last day in Portland, at least for this trip, was mostly uneventful, except for a remarkable sight.

A Cadillac Escalade, parallel parked in front of the Lloyd Center mall, sitting on four cinder blocks, its wheels and tires having been stolen in the middle of the day.

Never have seen that, except on television or the movies. Not in Chicago or New York or Dallas or LA. Never seen that in Oklahoma City, and I’ve been all over OKC for half a century.

But I saw it on my fourth day in Portland.

Think of the audacity it takes to pull such a job. The thieves had to be quick and organized. But no way did they act like it was their Cadillac; the lugnuts were left lying on the pavement of northeast Multnomah Street, which is the boulevard we used every day to walk to the Moda Center and which is always active with pedestrians.

So there had to be people walk past when the robbers struck.

Did no one call the police? The cops weren’t there when we passed by, and the car owner was. Were the thieves unfazed by witnesses? Just a crazy scene.

We walked twice to the Moda Center on Tuesday, once for Thunder shootaround and then again for the game. Shootaround is a ritual with no great meaning, best I can tell, other than to pass the time. Sort of like shaving before a date. Shootaround means the players must awake by a certain hour, and there’s something to be said for that.

We walked back to the hotel after shootaround and I worked for four hours. Lots to do on a late game, since both Erik and I had to write a story for the print edition, plus I finished off a travelblog and transcribed an interview with Thunder TV voice Chris Fisher, who is finishing up his first year with the organization.

I stopped only to do an NBATV interview. I’m in a little bit of a demand over the Russell Westbrook “next question” phenomenon. I don’t personally see what’s all that interesting about it, especially for those outside Oklahoma.

At 5 p.m. Pacific time, we walked back to the Moda Center for the game, and that’s when we saw the Escalade. Reminded me of January 1981, when I woke up and headed outside to go to work, only to discover the T-tops on my 1979 Trans Am had been stolen, during a night in which it snowed and iced. It’s quite the helpless feeling.

Anyway, I hadn’t eaten all day – literally, other than cough drops to stave off a cold – and so I quite enjoyed the media meal provided by the Blazers. Some good macaroni and cheese, corn casserole, potato salad, pasta salad and ranch beans. There was some meat, too, but the other stuff is what I enjoyed.

You know all about the game, so I won’t rehash. Erik and I each wrote a piece to send just a few minutes after the final buzzer, then we hustled down to the press conference.

It seems that the Portland press corps is quite intrigued by the square dance between me and Westbrook. Doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me – just Russ being Russ – but in addition to NBATV, I’ve been contacted by the Dan Patrick Show and The Herd with Collin Cowherd, perhaps the nation’s top two sports radio shows in America. Both want me on. I still don’t understand it.

Erik and I worked until almost midnight Oregon time, then shot a video and caught an Uber back to the hotel. We could have walked back, but it was raining. I didn’t see the point. We podcasted until past 12:30, then I packed and laid down for an hour or two, awaiting my 3:25 wakeup call. We had a 5:30 a.m. flight to Denver.

There’s not much traffic on the Portland highways at 4 a.m., but the Portland airport still was buzzing. I generally don’t sleep on planes, but I slept on that one. Almost all the way to Denver. We grabbed some breakfast at the Denver airport – I had a tamale plate that was outstanding – and then I slept some more on the flight to OKC. Landed around 1 p.m., glad to be home on Oklahoma soil, where our thieves generally steal the whole car, not just the wheels.

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Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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