If you are not a basketball fan, you can skip this posting. (Probably if you are, you can skip it, too–is is not a happy tale ...)
The local team, the Portland Trailblazers, which started out strong this shortened-season has imploded. Crashed and burned and the survivors are stumbling out of the smoldering wreckage looking dazed and confused and blowing smoke rings ...
The Blazers are a second-tier team, always have been. The big money and superstars go to the first-tier markets–L.A., Boston, Dallas, New York, Chicago, and now, Miami and Oklahoma City. Mostly, the Blazers make the playoffs, and mostly, they don't make it past the first round. The only time they won the whole shebang was in 1977.
Thirty-five years is a long time. Not talking Cubs, but still ...
Since I've lived in this area, the local team has had several not-complimentary nicknames. For a while, players were getting busted for dope, wife-beating, drunk driving, and even dog-fighting, and came to be known as "The Jailblazers." Then they started getting banged up, a lot of injuries, and were called "The Frailblazers."
Last couple of weeks, the monicker has been "The Failblazers."
As happens when teams go from promising to pitiful, setting records for low scoring, most turnovers, fewest assists, and well, everything, the coach shuffles them around, trying to find the right chemistry. There are some good players on the team, including a freshly-elected All Star, LaMarcus Aldridge, who came of age when Brandon Roy was tearing up the court. When Brandon's knees crumbled, LA stepped up and kept the Blazers alive, if not triumphant. Last year, they made it to the playoffs and lost to Dallas, who went on to win the championship.
No surprise they got knocked out.
Today, after a forty-some point loss to New York yesterday, two players were traded and the coach was fired. We'll miss Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby, both of whom were doing good enough to get several questionable players and some draft picks. Crash Wallace is one of the toughest guys in the game, and Canby, while old, gets as many rebounds as just about anybody.
Nate McMillian spent six and half years here and we liked him.
Tomorrow's game will be real interesting ...
The rationale, as it tends to be when teams fall into a stupor, is to buy young, and aim for a future, two or three years down the line. And Portland has some kids who come off the bench and play their asses off, so it's possible that will work.
That's what local fans are telling themselves.
And that wing-transplant for pigs could also work ...
EDITOR'S NOTE: I sit corrected. The Blazers, with an assistant moved up to coach and two of its starters gone, went to Chicago's house yesterday to play. The Bulls are #1 in the NBA at the moment, and Portland beat them by eleven points.
Doesn't mean they'll continue to play like that, but for a glorious moment, it was quite the victory.