An NBA Fan; Fond memories, Great performances, and Legends Passed

Maurice Lucas had more or less moved on from the Blazers by the time I became what i would call an "aware" fan.

I was too young when the Blazers won their only Championship to fully comprehend what was going on. I knew the names and felt the excitement, but was not yet a basketball fan.

As I grew older and got heavily involved in every aspect of basketball, I grew to know the players and appreciate what a special moment 76-77 had been.

Men like my Dad who were at best casual fans had been swept up in the momentum and would talk about the passing of Bill Walton, the intimidation of Maurice Lucas, the speed of Johnny Davis and so forth.

By the time the tremendous Portland teams of the late 80s and early 90s rolled around, I knew a great deal about the Blazers and, unlike my parents and their friends, was passionate about the game.

Few and far between were the games I got to attend, but in those few, I got to see some spectacular games. I was there the night Larry Bird, bad back and all, closing in on the end of his career, reminded us all why he was Larry legend, dropping 49 on the Blazers including a ridiculous, getting hammered trey to send it into overtime.

I remember buying a family four-pack, going to watch the Suns with my Dad, my best friend, and one of my brothers, Dad leaving to feed the parking meter while the rest of us saw Arvydas Sabonis, Tom Chambers and Rex Chapman hit stupendous shots to extend the game again and again.

There is something about seeing a spectacular performance or moment that makes sports worthwhile.

On the night the Blazers honored the memory of Maurice Lucas, early on it seemed we were in the presence of the makings of such a moment, of a memorable gem of a game.

LaMarcus Aldridge was firing early and often. He scored in the post. He scored on his patented mid-range jumper. He scored on alley-oops.

And then the Blazers forgot he was on the team, almost completely freezing him out for nearly three quarters.

And despite sometimes stifling, always harassing defense, Kevin Durant showed how he will leave millions of NBA fans with some great memories, including one moment when he scored from behind the basket against a triple team.

There was a time that shot and the overtime thriller played between the Trailblazers and their Northwest rivals, the Seattle Supersonics, would have been one of those special moments for many fans.
And, one might argue, even as what is really not a rivalry game between the Oklahoma City
Thunder and the Blazers was taking place, it has the foundations of a rivalry between two franchises that will long be tied together via both the Greg Oden or Kevin Durant draft as well as their status as exciting young, up and coming, hope to soon be contenders teams.
The thing is, great moments are not only had between classic rivals. To the best of my knowledge Portland and Boston have no reason to be part of any sort of rivalry...but that did not take away from my enjoyment of Bird going all Larry Bird on them.
And while Portland and Oklahoma City fans might not argue about which city has more rain or more expensive gourmet coffee, they can argue over who is better, Nicolas Batuum or Thabo Sefolosho....and enjoy the next few years of watching Brandon Roy and Kevin Durant launch some spectacular games at the other team.
Which brings me back to the Lucas thing. It is great that the Blazers will wear his #20 all year. It was a nice moment after the moment of silence when many of us performed the "Lllluuuuuukkkkkeeee" chant without the later prompting from announcer Mark Mason.
But looking around it was also obvious to me that for the majority of the crowd, the memories of Lucas were handed down, not our own. Our memories are of seeing Kevin Duckworth return to the court for game seven, of seeing Buck Williams battle Karl Malone, of Clyde Drexler launching those scud missiles that passed for three point attempts and throwing down dunks.
And for the new generation the special moments are building with things like the Marcus Camby chant from last year, the acrobatic teardrop runners of Armon Johnson, the Roy last-second heroics.
And ultimately, that is what makes being a fan not just worthwhile, but something special. Yes, it would have been great to see Portland hold on and win a game they had in hand for most of the night.
But for Thunder fans, how long will they be talking about some of those tough, heavily contested threes Durant hit to keep their early season from turning into a disaster in a game they desperately needed against a division rival?
It was a special night with some great moments that reminded me why it is cool to be a basketball fan.
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