Oden Mania

Maybe I’m just not a big enough sports fan, but I find Portland’s sort of civicly-enforced celebration of their drafting of Greg Oden a little wearying.  My basic problem is that the big brohauhau of an event at Pioneer Square, as well the storming of the court at the Rose Garden, seems like an excitement reserved for, I don’t know, winning a championship or something.

Did the city of San Antonio celebrate in as official a manner when the Spurs drafted Tim Duncan?

I understand that the Trailblazers fan has already projected out to a championship in four or five years, and seemingly five more after that one, based on what turned out to be abrilliant draft last year (at the time chided by Charles Barkley as “a joke”)  and … Greg Oden.  But this is a strange anticipatory glee, and maybe a little sad.

Actually a caller to the Rick Emerson Show put it well.  At Pioneer Square yesterday, you had a thousand white men (largely of an upper income, largely suburbanite) coming down to worship a tall lanky black man, presented by a group of women dancing — once removed from a local strip club.

I know Portland Trailblazers fans who state that they threw in the towel at the team after the Clyde Drexler era (during which the team lost two finals series), during which time they were just massive fans.  I never quite believe them.  It intersects with my problem with the basic line of the Trailblazers’s problems, and their image as a dysfunctional team — the “Jailblazers” — for, the timeline is given, the past decade, the past dozen years, the past twelve years.  Until a couple of years ago, the team consistently made the playoffs — they won of a sort — during which time all of Isaih Rider’s buffoonery was tucked away when the Blazers went on any little winning streak of any sort.  More to the point, even if I decide that they seriously turned their back on the Trailblazers at that time, there was a time period of roughly two and a half seasons (or two thirds) where they were one of the elite teams, poised for the Championship.  This window started in earnest during that shortened post-lockdown (and post Jordan) 1999 season, a season that effectively ended when the Trailblazers lost Game 2 on Memorial Day against the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals after leading the game for… oh, 59 minutes and 59.6 seconds or thereabouts.  The next season, when they were really ready for the run, ended in Game 7 against the Los Angeles Lakers when the team lead in the middle of the fourth period by, was it 16 points? — and then… went ice cold.

That was the end of it.  I suppose we can say that the next round of the Blazers are better built for a longer longer longevity– a couple of superstars working together, the traditional big man in the middle that is the force behind most NBA Championship teams, and a bunch of role players as opposed to what the Blazers had for that short window
when the team was built as “effectively having two starting line-ups!” — all good for a dozen points, none good for being the man to take over the game in the clutch.

But I find it difficult to imagine those Blazer fans who say they lacked all interest in the team past the much ballyhooed Clyde Drexler era saying not flocking to the team during that post-season (call it the Scottie Pippen era) … where they lost to the Lakers in that Game 7.

It was all a downward spiral after that, of course, and it is difficult to figure out what the lowest point was for the franchise.  I guess the immediate end of season after Maurice Cheeks was fired, and the team muddled through not even really playing the younger players in a rebuilding effort but in a play-out-the-string effort until they could clear their heads and figure out how to possibly move forward.  And nobody in this city has had a terribly good feeling about the Trailblazers team until somewhere in the middle of this last season.
Incidentally, simply in the interest of being a snotty semi-contrarian jerk, the Trailblazers might have been in much better shape if it were not for the great Clyde Drexler.   Think it about it for a second.  What is the reason always given for the Trailblazers’ Draft Pick #2 selection of Sam Bowie in the 1984 draft?  Well, there’s the obvious reason that a team always goes for the Big Man Center, the crucial man for most NBA Champions not named the Chicago Bulls, the sure-fire Center pick was just selected by the Houston Rockets at Pick #1 — Hakeem Olajuwon (helped the Rockets win two championships, right?) — and the Blazers already has a swell man at the position that the next pick — Michael Jordan — played at, ie: Clyde Drexler.  Retrofitting a bit, the Blazers fan chomps and wonders what a Jordan — Drexler court would have been like, but clearly it wasn’t, so… GODDAMNED THAT CLYDE DREXLER.  He destroyed that franchise!
… Rooting for Laundry, as the saying goes…

Say… I hear that Tom Potter received a bit of booing at that Greg Oden welcome ceremony.  I wouldn’t take it too hard if I were Tom Potter.  This is a crowd that is not entirely representative of the city as a whole, and is full of people who think Potter is the only thing standing between the city of Portland and the godawful and futile idea of luring a major league baseball franchise to the city.  Also they remember Potter’s lousy body-language watching the first game of the Portland Trailblazer, clearly he didn’t want to be there — but then again, nobody else did either.

3 Responses to “Oden Mania”

  1. astonefield Says:

    who cares what you think, I got here to this site by accindent anyway and a responce is not worth your racial view points

  2. Justin Says:

    Yeah, I knew I was tripping in dicey waters with that politically incorrect statement about “a thousand white Suburbanites come down to Pioneer Square to worship a tall lanky black man”, which was spoken by a black emailer to Rick Emerson, incidentally, and I guess if I wanted cover, I might have stuck in. Curious as I don’t think the “Women dancing one step removed from a local strip club” wouldn’t draw a similar reaction — though maybe if I slid in the phrase “blondes”, which I cannot remember if it was used.

    My only real question is, if you are happen to come back to read this: What do you think I am saying?  Feel free to be as blatant as you’d like; I just want to know.

  3. Justin Says:

    I see that a Sports page with a lot of pictures of skimpily attired women and a technorati rating of 368 has linked to this blog entry.


    With the comment “SKULL/BONES blazes a different trail in stating that Portland’s pompous pride in Greg Oden may be premature.”

    For the record, I don’t really care or mind if Portland Trailblazers fans believes that Oden is going to bring the Blazers to the promised land. The Portland Trailblazers got lucky — their #1 draft pick was deferred a year to the year when it mattered — from the season when they had the best chance of winning the top slot after a season where the team was stuck in neutral, to a season where they did not have the best chance of the top slot and the team had shown wobbly signs of moving forward.

    I largely had a narrow focus: the city’s celebration –ie: the mayor (hated by sports’ fans, and there’s nothing wrong with it but he is not a sports’ fan) appearing to throw in his words– ought be reserved for when this anticipation materializes.

    To the degree that I ran on into a statement of the overly enthused nature of Oden-Mania, I guess John Canzano offered the retort to such sentiments.  In the end, I have to consign it to a small market enthusiasm, and leave it at that..:


    As for that racially-tinged comment, pointed out by somebody else: a Comment made by the protagonist at one point in Neil Stephensons `Zodiac’ (more or less):`Here we have a bunch of bigoted white guys (fishermen) and their heroes are all giant black guys with clubs (baseball players)’.  Sociologically, I always have to try to think of the “Observer from Mars” equation.

Leave a Reply