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.