….I’ve watched the clip over and over again. Dominique Wilkins, Lenny Wilkens and Brandon Roy all standing on that mini-podium. I couldn’t be bothered to even make a joke about it because I was entirely too nervous. Sure I said we would get the #2 pick yesterday, but I never truly believed it. I’ve learned not to get my hopes up too much around here. Suddenly my palms were sweaty and quivering like a 15 year old boy about to ask a girl to Homecoming. The utter devastation that I would feel if I saw our logo would be inexplicable. I already would have had the column written already. “Just like the Blazers always do; enough to suck you in and believe before crushing your spirits.” Or something like that.
But I see a Hawk emerge from that envelope. Take that ‘Nique. In my brain I wanted to start dancing like Layla Ali but I couldn’t. We were guaranteed to get one of the two best players in the draft. Unbelievable.
And then we got #1. Did not see that coming. The texts and phone calls attacked my cell phone relentlessly. Coup called me but I picked up and hung up I didn’t know what to do. I was almost certain it was a dream. It’s almost a day later and I’m still certain that its a dream.
And the first person I thought of when we got that #1 pick was the bleepin’ Sports Guy. See earlier yesterday in his little ‘Karma Mock Lottery’ he had the gall to brush the Blazers and their fans off and say we only deserve to finish 7th, adding this little nugget.
“But considering the Blazers were consistently competitive from 1976 to 2001, can you really argue that their fans have “suffered” that badly because they limped through a few bad seasons with some bad guys? Probably not.”
I was outraged when I read that, you can even ask Coup. This is from the guy who bitches and moans about the Celtics needing this and how much they suffer and all that crap. He almost had me convinced but on this subject he pretty much just got owned. I had felt bad for Boston saying they needed #1 or #2….forget them. Since 1970 they have won five NBA championships. That is four more finals then the Blazers have been too and four more titles. As a fan can you really complain if you’ve witnessed your team winning more than one championship?
I have not seen one….and I may never see one. From 1987 (the year I was born) to 2004 we were in the playoffs. Consistently competitive only means so much Billy boy. It doesn’t mention how during that span we lost in the first round 12 of those 17 years. Six years in a row we kept losing in the first round. We’ve been to the NBA Finals twice in my lifetime. Both times we won one of the first two on the road and both times we absolutely blew the games at home. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times I have watched the Blazer team videos from 90-92 ‘Return to Rip City’, ‘Running Down a Dream’ and ‘Make It Happen’ and cried. I hated the Pistons, I even hated Magic for his celebration after beating us in the conference finals. I still see it; Magic’s mouth is wide open, his arms are raised and he is jumping up and down in slow motion. I still want to find Bobby Hansen and the rest of Chicago’s bench for having the nerve to make that comeback with MJ on the bench. And all of those memories are from when I was three to five years old…it wasn’t even the state when sports mattered entirely too much.
I had to find out that the Blazers actually had a chance to draft Michael Jordan and instead picked Sam Bowie. I read about how terrible he was too. Then I had to sit there as a kid and watch that same guy aka my childhood hero MJ demolish my favorite team on this earth. Knowing in the back of my tiny, child-sized brain that we could have had him AND Drexler. I had to sit and watch and try to comprehend how a trade for Clyde Drexler for Otis Thorpe could happen. Then I had to view him winning a title with someone else.
And it made me sick to my stomach.
This is for all the fans who still get sick to their stomachs when they hear the words “Memorial Day Miracle”. Or the sight of Sean Elliott. To the fans who have the worst week of their life in 2000 trying to figure out how we lost that game. To this day I have never watched that game again in my life. I have that dunk firmly etched in my mind; Kobe lob to Shaq, dunk, pandemonium, Shaq’s mouth wide open and armpit hair. I remember my Dad had the gall to bring me the Lakers championship DVD that summer and it was ok until they went to the Conference Finals. I hit eject and hid that thing in the basement. This is for the fans who have suffered through every poor draft choice of this decade. This is for the fans who have seen two Blazer eras where we were so close but so far. This is for the people who have stayed loyal to the red and black. For those who know the Blazer Dancers have been doing the same moves since 99. For those who think that Blaze, the Stunt Team and Todd should all be clotheslined repeatedly.
Portland….this is our redemption. No matter what they say, no matter what they write, they cannot take this moment from us. So what if we’re a small market. Who cares if people on the East Coast will have to stay up to watch Oden and Durant. This is the moment we have been waiting for. This moment validates having to groan as you learn Qyntel Woods gave a cop his rookie card as ID. It validates watching the playoffs go by. It validates all those years we fell in the first round. All the trades, all of the failed roster moves, all of the guys who prospered after leaving here. Surviving through Whitsett. Making it through these past two years as we painfully realized we weren’t good anymore. Watching as those teams beneath us rose to prominence, a place we were once at. The days of being a nationwide punchline are over. I haven’t seen such a united front since we almost came back and beat Dallas.
Redemption has arrived…and to borrow a line from my favorite seven footer; its tooooooo sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet.