The list goes on for why this is a team that you should not only be proud of, but have respect for. You know about the 300+ missed games due to injuries along with some of the atrocious timing of a few of those maladies. You know they kept fighting and you know they gave you reasons to stand and cheer. You can’t call them heroes when people are risking their lives by doing some very heroic things, they just endured the pain of a shoulder or a knee and found as much success at their choice of work as possible, when everyone else would have understood if they caved.
But the reason that tops the list is this: with every reason to, they never gave the fans a reason to throw in the towel. Other than some somber days following injuries to Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla, this team had us convinced that they would find some improbable way to win. And that’s why, in the final quarter of Game 6, it still felt like just one more three, one more break would take them to a win.
Because a good part of being a fan is about managing expectations. Fans of the Thunder and Bucks had great seasons not only because they had fun, exciting teams to watch but because those squads exceeded expectations left and right. Fans of the Celtics had miserable years because that team all but left the title hopes dying in a sewer drain. And though expectations are often an unfair product of the media and skewed national perception, they’re a major factor, and the Blazers stayed right in line with what the fans wanted and believed in.
So they lost a few more games and played in six fewer playoff contests, but you believed they could win more and go further, didn’t you? Even when a team doesn’t lose anything at all, that’s notable, but in this quirky, confused season of Blazers basketball, that’s something special.