PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Dale Schlueter, a member of the Portland Trail Blazers for their inaugural 1970-71 season, died Thursday after battling cancer. He was 68.
The Trail Blazers said Schlueter died at his Portland home.
"Dale was a living salute to those original days when the NBA first burst upon the scene in Portland and across the state of Oregon,” said Blazer broadcasting icon Bill Schonely. “You could always count on Dale and his wife Jeni to support the outreach efforts that have made the Trail Blazers so beloved in our community. I counted him as a dear friend, and will miss him immensely. Dale was a no-nonsense player and a throwback to the great days of our sport. He played the game as it should be played. This was indeed his life -- the Portland Trail Blazers.”
Schlueter was acquired by the Blazers in 1970 and averaged 8.2 points in the team's first season. The 6-foot-10 center had two stints in Portland, from 1970-72 and again for the 1977-78 season.
A Washington native who played at Colorado State, Schlueter averaged 5.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in seven NBA seasons with San Francisco, Portland, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Buffalo and Phoenix.
After retiring in 1978, Schlueter remained involved with the Blazers and served as a team ambassador at games and community events.
Blazers founder Harry Glickman remembered Schlueter as giving his ultimate effort every time he played.
“He was one of our original players, which affords Dale a special place in Trail Blazers history,” said founder Harry Glickman. “For the vast majority of professional athletes, one of the best rewards is personally knowing when you’ve done your very best. Dale gave his ultimate effort every time he played. He was a great Trail Blazer.”
“We have lost a true Trail Blazers original, and someone whose dedication to our organization and the Portland community knew no limits,” said Chris McGowan, President & CEO of the Trail Blazers and Moda Center.
Funeral arrangements are pending.