"Better than the deed, better than the memory is the moment of anticipation."
Jaques the Bowler (Albert Brooks) while preparing for a date with Marge Simpson.
I am obviously highly interested in the results of the upcoming Blazer season in particular and more generally in the results of their next few years. As with most Blazer fans, I expect improvements this year and hope for a Championship or 3 in the next 6 - 8 years.
I will also admit to being perhaps a bit more optimistic than many Blazer fans but more realistic than another group. I believe a win total north of 50 and perhaps even winning a playoff series are not unrealistic goals even within the Western Conference, though winning it all this year seems a pretty sizable stretch.
But what if it doesn't happen, not just this year but ever? Perhaps Brandon Roy's heel issues limit his effectiveness, shorten his career and remove one of the bright stars from the Rose Garden. Or maybe Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, and Jerryd Bayless fail to live up to expectations. Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster stop improving. An ill-advised trade moves LaMarcus Aldridge and disrupts the team chemistry.
Or maybe they just keep running into great teams. Last season's Celtics were assembled essentially instantaneously and have a few years left. The Jazz have assembled a talented, versatile roster. Kobe Bryant has been given a lot of help and is still a talent capable of winning entire series almost single-handed. See also James, LeBron. That is without even mentioning to this point the Spurs, Suns, Hornets, Magic, or....well, you see the point.
In short, there are a lot of ways the Blazers franchise total of NBA Championships won could remain at 1 even when the current crop of studs is retired, traded, departed as free agents or however this core group is dismantled .
But it shouldn't matter because between now and then they should create a number of great memories. Those should be reason enough to watch. And they are created game in and game out.
For example, last season there was a game where the Blazers were struggling, on the verge of being blown out in the first half. The opponents, I believe it was the Hawks, had the ball with mere moments remaining in the first half. They had a lay-up to push the lead even further out when Travis Outlaw came out of nowhere to make a spectacular block.
With the crowd on their feet still yelling, the Hawks (?) inbounded it for a dunk attempt which Outlaw launched right back into the seats.
Regardless of whether Portland won or lost that night, those moments stick out in my mind. And there were many more equally exciting plays. I can replay in my mind the Roy hand-switching lay-up reminiscent of Jordan versus the Lakers, any of dozens of Joel Przybilla blocks including several on dunk attempts, sky walking Outlaw dunks, Webster treys, Sergio Rodriguez passes, and more.
Too often sports fans get distracted by the goal of "winning it all" and forget to enjoy the journey. That can sap out a great deal of the fun of spectator sports. Take a team like the Oklahoma (Tropic) Thunder. They will be statistically be eliminated from playoff contention by approximately the third game of the season but their realistic playoff hopes will die a few games prior to that, maybe about the time they open training camp.
Yet with that said, failing to attend the games would rob Thunder fans of memories about some pretty spectacular games. With Kevin Durant aboard and cranking up shots basically any time he feels like it, they are likely to see a couple of 40+ point explosions. He is a freakish talent who should provide some spectacular entertainment even in losing causes.
At the other end of the spectrum would be teams like the Spurs who, if everything breaks right, could sneak back into the Finals and win another Ring. Whether they do or not, it is another year to watch the magnificence of Tim Duncan with his great footwork, court vision, and passing ability. It is another chance to see Tony Parker expand his game and make some great cuts into the lane.
You can find reasons to watch virtually every team in the League from game to game. They all provide entertainment as long as you recognize the journey is in many ways worth more than obtaining the goal.
Sure, I remember the excitement of Blazermania when the Big Redhead lifted the trophy over his head...31 years ago. But I also remember watching Billy Ray do his "Rock the Cradle" dunks for some pretty average Blazer teams as well, enjoyed the return of Maurice Lucas, saw Arvydas Sabonis, and so forth.
There was that fantastic triple overtime game with the Suns where Sabonis, Tom Chambers, and Rex Chapman hit unbelievable off-balance, heavily guarded threes to extend the game 5 more minutes. I remember that just as fondly as the Championship. Or the time Larry Legend and the Celtics came to Portland for his last game here and he ripped us for I think it was 51 points. The memories are great.
But so is the anticipation. This year I expect to see some incredible moves from the talented Blazer roster, to see some high-scoring explosions and great defensive plays, to see the team develop, win a lot of games, and perhaps even win a playoff series.
I like to think, however, that even if they just tread water at 41-41 I will still come away happy with having watched some fun basketball. If I leave with a smile on my face then they will have done their job.
Ultimately, maybe Jacques had it right. The promise of the next few seasons is so great that it seems impossible for any results to match them. Maybe if the Blazers exceed all (realistic) expectations, rip off 10 consecutive 60 win seasons and win5 championships in that time the memories and deeds will be better, but for now, as Blazer fans, lets just enjoy the anticipation.
Portland Trail Blazers at Cleveland Cavaliers: TV channel, game preview, how to watch live stream - The Portland Trail Blazers visit the Cleveland on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
4 months ago