Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Return of the Blazers

Alright, they're back! After a decade and a half, the Portland Trailblazers are back! Now, for those of you who aren't from Portland Oregon, which I assume accounts for the majority of this planets population, we're not talking about merely ending a losing streak here. We're talking about something much bigger.

Let's go back a ways...

When I was a kid, the Blazers were fun. They were a good team, and they were fun. The community loved them. The Blazers made the finals in 1990 and 1992, and made the playoffs in between. During this time, they recorded songs such as "Rip City Rhapsody," "Bust a Bucket," and "Blazers are in the House" (hey, it was the 90's).

The team, coached by Rick Adelman, consisted of hall of fame player Clyde Drexler, as well as many other superstars such as Terry Porter, Cliff Robinson, and the late Kevin Duckworth.

The news station which aired the games would go to different houses around the Portland area and interview local families during commercial breaks. One time, it turned out to be the house of my paraplegic next door neighbor, as he partied with his family.

During NBA season, Portland and her outskirts gushed with white, black, and red in support of her only pro sports team.

Then, after having lost the finals twice in 90 and 92; in the 1993-94 season, the Blazers failed to advance toward the first round. This lead to coach Rick Adelman being fired. Keep in mind now, the team had just made it to the finals twice, something which only two teams in the NBA can do. And in between those two years they made the playoffs. Hell, one of these times they lost to legendary Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. But, because Adelman hadn't won a title, they fired him. This was the beginning of the downward spiral.

Shortly after, Bob Whitsett came onto the team as the new manager. As his first order of business, he completely dismantled the old team. In my book, this was the death of the Blazers. After this, I just lost interest. And I wasn't alone.

People just didn't care about the new players who were chosen. They had no charisma. Fans began to drop like flies, and ticket sales declined. The Blazers went from a fun community oriented team, to a team full of drama and discontent.

In 99, I went into the military, and the Blazers went off my radar for awhile. I came back in 2003 to find that the Blazers were a joke to the bulk of the community. Not only were they a shitty team, they had been nicknamed the "Jailblazers" due the the players uncanny knack for getting into trouble with the law; from dogfighting to sexual assault charges. To admit to being a Blazer fan was an open invitation to derision and ridicule.

Enter the present. Just this year, rather recently infact, I began noticing a sudden uprise in Blazer fans. In the beginning, I laughed at them. But then I found out that the Blazers are virtually a whole new team now. Under new management, the team now has a roster of fresh players, including Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. Not only are fans showing support, but in turn, this team is showing support for the community, as per the Blazers of yore.

Now this new Blazer team is in the playoffs against the Houstin Rockets. The first game was a bust. But last night, from the Mission Theatre and Pub, I witnessed a heart wrenchingly close game which ended in a victory for the Blazers.

Portlanders once again have hope for their team. This includes myself, after never having bothered to watch a Blazer game for a decade and a half.

No comments: