THE SIDELINES : Blazermania Welcome Home

From Times Wire Services

Thousands of wildly cheering Blazermaniacs greeted the Portland Trail Blazers in the wee hours this morning as the team arrived from Phoenix after clinching its first Western Conference title in 13 years.

"We couldn't do it without your support," Clyde Drexler told the crowd, "so let's continue and take it all."

Fans began to gather outside the fence at the Hillsboro Airport shortly after the game ended Thursday night. Many carried signs saying such things as "We Love Our Blazers," "We Love You Guys," and "Kamikaze Kersey."

By the time Blazer One, the team plane, touched down at 1:35 a.m., Hillsboro police estimated the crowd had grown to as many as 10,000. Some scaled trees to get a better view.

"It's unbelievable," Terry Porter said.

Several players and Coach Rick Adelman took turns speaking from a platform through a public address system set up by the radio station that broadcasts the team's games.

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