Blazers: Mid-Season Re-Thoughts


Last night’s game marked the official halfway point of the Portland Trail Blazers season. We here at the RCP figured why not take a look back at the season that has been so far. The ups and downs, the highs and lows, the peaks and valleys. I’ve run out of clever sayings for those, sorry I’m not Dickie V.

July, August and September was a period where Blazer fans couldn’t help but fall in love with their team. It feels like so long ago, right? What was there not to love? Brandon Roy and LaMarcus were returning, Greg Oden was done with rehab and about to get on the court, Jerryd Bayless was a monster in training, Rudy Fernandez was killing in Beijing, Kevin Pritchard was a wonderkind. Darius Miles wasn’t signed with an NBA team. Them’s was the days. We were literally just counting the days until the season as more and more hype rolled in, the bandwagon filled up and good things seemed on the horizon. At times it felt like Dr. Dre was going to release Detox before the season would ever start. It also didn’t help that the media was fawning over us at points. Reading some of the interviews we did with other blogs kind of makes me shake my head. if I took a shot for everytime someone called us ‘stacked’ or ‘talented’ than my sentences would start to look like: ‘BrQANdon Roy isH my hdfaomie, bbhlazers blogs r koolsls. drunk dial.’

October: Blazer fans nearly died of anticipation waiting for the season to start. I don’t know if I felt like a 15 year old waiting for the premiere of Gossip Girl or a Harry Potter fanatic waiting for the next book/movie to come out. But I was definitely just as excited. The hype machine was in full force for the Blazers as everyone and their moms were writing good things about us nationally. Seriously even Bill Simmons had something good to say about us. Simmons saying something good about the Blazers is like a heterosexual male wanting to see Sex & The City more than his girlfriend. Rare. There was a sense of pride but those expectations played tricks on people. Many either bought into it or tried to fight them off. Martell Webster went down with a foot injury which led to the Great Debate of 08: Batum vs. Outlaw. And this was a legitimate debate because all we had seen of La Batum was his play in Vegas where he literally looked like hot garbage at points in time. Literally. Like a burning dumpster full of those lovely tiny porn pamphlets they hand out on the Strip would have played better than him during segments.

Then the season started and the absolute worst-case scenario happened. The Lakers pretended to be my grandma and took Portland behind the Staples Center and beat them with a switch. Oden struggled and got hurt. And then got uber-emo. Things were scary. And not Saw V scary but having to hangout with 13 year old girls and watch a marathon of Hannah Montana scary.

(But then we beat the Spurs and it was all good in the hood)

November: The Tour of Doom stretch ended as the Blazers dropped games to Phoenix and Utah before Brandon Roy went bananas and we beat Houston at home. You just don’t forget how amazing that feeling was when that shot went through the net. The rest of the month was joyful as the Blazers won 12 of 17 games including winning some big road games (Orlando and Detroit) and some great blowouts (at Sacramento, home against Chicago and Miami). It was a month of accelerated progress. Steve Blake made fools out of everyone who said he couldn’t play the point for this team. Also notable, Sergio Rodriguez staged a mini-drama and wanted to be traded. Blazer Nation did not uproar. It kind of felt like the reaction when that couple that always breaks up…breaks up. And you’re supposed to be all comforting but you know by the end of 6th period they’ll be making out by your locker. That’s how I felt about Sergio’s little show. Jerryd Bayless did not smile for 12 days. Ike Diogu played video games. Also at some point Lil Wayne told ESPN that Greg Oden was ‘a bust’. Yes the same man who rhymes ‘Wayne’s world/planet rock/panties drop/and the top’ declared Oden a bust after a month. People wanted Nate fired. Also, Ike Diogu furiously played as himself in NBA 2K9.

December: Kicked off the month by winning 3 out of 4 on an East Coast Road Trip. That one loss was a drubbing by the Celtics where Kevin Garnett pretended he was Marley and Jerryd Bayless was Me. Except he didn’t die. Psh, I cried during the movie so I can spoil it. Speaking of crying….Big Baby earned his nickname in that same game. Channing Frye at times looked like the worst basketball player on the planet, but that’s neither here nor there. Martell Webster came back for 5 minutes. Looking back, this was kind of a weird month and if somehow we don’t make the playoffs we’ll curse this month like Katie Holmes secretly curses the day she got hypnoti…I mean met Tom Cruise. Or how I secretly curse the existance of the Kardashians. Or how Greg Oden wanted to curse out Jason Quick. Remember that mini-beef? Hedo Turkoglu made us cry with a desperation heave. Zach Randolph made us want to hurl with a dominant performance. Steve Blake put a Triangle Choke on himself from the free throw line. But who was there to comfort us al Claire Huxtable? #7. Brandon Roy put us all over the emotional spectrum. He made us feel like little kids when he dropped 52 on the Suns. He made us giddy when he dropped 32 on Toronto. And then he made us all cry when his hamstring decided to stop working and he went down. But we ended the new year with one of the favorite Blazer wins, beating Boston at home. Also, Greg Oden showed a pulse with some big games during this month but we still weren’t talking about him. People really wanted Nate fired and Travis traded. Ike Diogu played Rockband 2. A lot.

January: We began the new year without B-Roy in lineup as he was alternating between ‘questionable’ and ‘doubtful’. And us fans (well at least me) were starting to sing “quit playin’ games with my heart…with my heeeeeeart” and then he finally said he was out for a week. We ended up going 2-2 without him so the world didn’t end. Thankfully. Batum absolutely climbed Pau Gasol but then Gerald Wallace collected the underground NBA bounty by dunking on Oden. And if you don’t think there was some sort of pool going than you are naive. You wonder why Gerald laid on the ground for an extra second, gotcha thinking right? Portland went 2-2 on a wacky East Coast road trip where Andre Igoudala and Thaddeus Young combined to hit 7 three’s and Brandon Roy went 3/10 from the line against the Bobcats. And still those losses were more fun to watch than Bride Wars. Oden showed the monster within against Chicago and Milwaukee and Blazer Nation fell back in love with Travis Outlaw for a few days. And by days I mean hours. Steve Blake has a separated shoulder and is out for about a month. Jerryd Bayless got off the bench and did what he does best: s-c-o-r-e. Ike Diogu played Gears of War 2 while Shavlik Randolph got flipped the bird by Steven Hill. And people still want to trade Travis and fire Nate.

Also, Raef LaFrentz was spotted at a local Starbucks with a grizzly beard and a white chocolate mocha.

(And we kind of, like, sort of threatened the rest of the league not to sign Darius. And then Memphis did. And he passed the 10 game threshold but did it by playing well. I feel like I’m on the Bachelor and not about to get a rose. Vomit time.)

All in all, I think we can agree it has a been a great year so far. The Blazers are not there yet by any stretch of the imagination but I don’t think anyone can say that we aren’t in a great place. This is still a team in progress but a team that is finding ways to win while getting better. Very few teams can say that. Which should be a scary thought. Peep this stat. Through 41 games, Portland sits at 25-16, 6th in the Western Conference. 2 games out from a Division crown
and 3 games out from the #2 seed in the conference and on pace for a 50-win season. Definitely can’t complain there. Now think about how of our last 41 games Thankfully sky is still the limit as we turn the corner here in January. Through all the trade rumors, the saga of the man with the headband who shall not be named, the Oden ‘disappointment’, the overdependence of Roy, the Martell injury, the “poor coaching” of Nate, no PGs etc…the Blazers are in a great place. There is still a lot of basketball to be played. Only time will tell how the last 41 games turn out but the future is still bright in Portland.

The future could also be now.