‘What the (curse word) basketball gods?”
That was the text that Coup sent to me last night. I wasn’t able to catch the game live, so that was how I found out about the latest in a long list of Blazers to get injured. Those are the words which lead to me learning about how Joel Pryzbilla went down in a heap, clutching his knee as I imagine an entire fanbase couldn’t believe what they were seeing. As you all know by now, Pryzbilla has reportedly gone down with a “ruptured right patella tendon and patella dislocation”, eerily similar to the injury that ended Greg Oden’s season. Only throwing in a ruptured tendon for fun.
The toughest part to swallow about Joel’s injury is that he had been the consistent bright spot for the Blazers since Oden went down. With his nightly energy and effort and tremendous heart he held this team together. For the second straight year he showed just how important he is. I mean…he’s arguably one of the top 3 most important players on this team right now and he’s done. Its tough to imagine how this team is going to manage defensively without his presence to alter shots, guard big men or get on the boards. Maybe we can throw a zone out there or something I don’t know.
The scary part about all of this is that when Coup sent me the text and told me what happened…I had no reaction. I think I even tried to bring up that we won to distract myself. It’s almost like I’m desensitized to these injuries or something like that. You know when you watch the news a bunch, all of a sudden stories of kidnappings and rapes lose that shock they used to have on you. Or, how the news of a divorce or a death has the tiniest impact ever. For a pop culture example, it kind of reminded me of how I felt about the whole Tiger Woods story. Not to bring up old news, but by about mistress #4 or #5 I was no longer shocked. I know there is a psychological term I’m forgetting here, but I hope you see my basic point.I’m no longer shocked by Blazers going down. I mean I was almost more concerned about Brandon Roy’s shoulder for pete’s sake.
I’m not sure I have the words to describe, recap, or make sense what is going on right now. It’s amazing and I mean all kinds of the wrong sorts of amazing. This may be a naïve question, but can anyone recall a team losing this many rotation players in less than half of a year? I know teams have seem their championship dreams crushed by the injury bug…but this smells like some pretty unreal territory. There are positives to be had though. Yes….I said positives. Is it ok to throw a pity party? Absolutely. That won’t change the fact that the season still is not over though. As unfortunate as the circumstances have been, Portland has been able to see what they have in certain players. Martell Webster is getting large amounts of minutes and experience that he wouldn’t be seeing if Batum/Outlaw/Rudy went down. All the questions we had about him have been answered…whether we like them or not. Jerryd Bayless has gotten playing time and shown what he can do with extended minutes. Steve Blake may or may not have shown us his ceiling. The rookie big men, Cunningham and Pendergraph are going to be thrown into the fire for a little bit. The most important positive is that this team is facing massive adversity. This may not payoff for a couple years, but the Blazers will come back tougher for going through this experience.
To tonight’s San Antonio game. In my eyes, its tough to see much good coming out of this one. The Spurs are.a great team we know this.A win would be amazing and is highly possible. But going 2-2 in this state on a road trip featuring Orlando, Miami, Dallas and the Spurs gets a thumbs up from me. This off-season as the Spurs made all of their moves, I was deathly afraid of them. And even though they are 15-10 I am still deathly afraid of them. That’s the kind of respect that Pop, Tim Duncan, Manu and Tony Parker have earned from me over the years. San Antonio comes into this one having won 6 of their last 7 games. This is going to be a tough one. Question number 1: who is going to guard Tim Duncan? I like Juwan Howard’s veteran saavy, but we need Oden/Pryzbilla to really make Timmy’s life tough. I never feel good about rookies near Duncan and LaMarcus cannot afford foul trouble. Generally speaking, Portland tends to struggle with Tony Parker. Combine those two things together with whatever emotional cocktail the Blazers may have sipped and you can see the possibilities. We can win if we can contain these two, and make shots on the other end. Those are two pretty big ifs though.