As the Portland Trail Blazers embark on the postseason, Blazers fans all over the world are donning their gear to cheer on the team. If you doubt the global reach of Blazer fandom, consider Rich Brownstein.
Perhaps the most fanatical of Blazers fans doesn’t live in Portland, or even in America. He lives in Israel. And he has what he claims is the largest collection of Blazers stuff in the world.
The size of the collection is beyond Brownstein’s comprehension. “I couldn’t begin to count,” he says.
He also declines having his collection officially declared the world’s largest.
Brownstein says, “My wife’s not interested in being married to a Guinness book record holder for such a silly thing.”
Brownstein says he’s comfortable making the claim until it’s refuted. So far, nobody has done so.
Brownstein, 52, is a Portland native who moved to Jersualem in 2003. He got his first piece of Blazers memorabilia from his first-grade teacher: a mini basketball autographed by Blazers All-Star Sidney Wicks.
From there, the collection has blossomed into the usual pile of jerseys and hats. But also some obscure and bizarre items. He has Blazers Barbie Dolls, a Blazers windsock, even Blazers underwear.
His flashiest item? The scoreboard control panel from the Memorial Coliseum, used when the Blazers won the NBA championship in 1977.
The most spiritual? A Blazers yarmulke, on “permanent loan” from his brother in the states.
The most unusual? An orthodontic retainer with the Blazers logo on it, donated by his niece. He says, “She used it. She’s done, and she thought it would be good for the collection.”
Brownstein is not in it for money. He says he’s never sold any of his collection, although he’s donated items to fellow collectors.
Brownstein simply says, “It’s a fun thing to do. And I love the team, so why not?”