Saturday, February 28, 2009

Portland - November 20, 2008

I was talking to my dad last night, he lives in the Vancouver, WA area, and just as we were getting off of the phone he said that the Blazers game was on ESPN. I decided to take a look. They were playing Chicago and I wanted to see Derrick Rose play. I watched most of the first half and I can honestly say that I am so painfully jealous of Portland. I’m from Washington. My provincial DNA tells me that Oregon is my enemy. Although I have many friends from Oregon and I’ve had good times every time I’ve been there (Portland, Ashland, the Coast) I have a hangup about the state.

My hangup stems from college, and coincidently it comes from the NBA. I was indifferent at best when it came to Oregon, generally, and Portland, specifically. Portland had the Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth, Jerome Kersey teams in the early 90s and while I didn’t like them, I didn’t really care about them. I never thought that they were good enough to be threatening so I didn’t pay them much mind. I also didn’t care about the University of Oregon because they had stupid uniforms with Donald Duck on them and their teams weren’t very good. At all. But then college started and I became acutely aware of Blazer and Duck fans. They are annoying. I didn’t understand why they were so passionate about their crappy teams and their state. I paid them no mind for 19 years and now I had to tolerate them telling me about their teams. I felt like I was being accosted by a vegetarian telling me how awesome tofu is. I’m indifferent when it comes to tofu. I’ll eat it sometimes and I don’t have a problem with it, but I certainly don’t care about tofu. I also have steak, ribs, and chicken available to me if I so choose… so why are you still talking to me about tofu? And why are you yelling at me about it?

I got so tired of hearing about Oregon that I went from indifferent toward Oregon to outright hatred toward Oregon. I’m more in the middle now as I’ve simmered down considerably in my advanced age, but it came back, slightly, last night when I saw what looks to be a perfectly constructed and coached NBA team in the Portland Trailblazers.

Portland plays beautiful basketball. They are young, but not too young. They are athletic and big. They are deep. They have a very good coach. They have smart players. They have unselfish players. They have talented players. We, in Washington, have no players. Incidentally, Chicago looks terrible. Two years ago they had the look of a team that was going places. They looked an awful lot like Portland does now, but I suppose they didn’t have anything resembling LaMarcus Aldridge (who they traded away for Tyrus Thomas on draft day… a terrible move when they made it and a worse move now since Aldridge looks like an all-star and Thomas looks like Stromile Swift, at best), or even Channing Frye, and they didn’t have a center like Pryzbilla or Oden … but they did have Ben Wallace, who wasn’t terrible, but didn’t have the ability or size like Portland’s guys. My point is, I was coveting Chicago’s lineup two years ago and now they look like they’re going nowhere. Ben Gordon is a terrible player. I’m not saying he isn’t a talented scorer, he is that, but he’s a terrible passer (he doesn’t do it) he has no feel for team basketball (he routinely shot with tons of time on the shot clock and with no sort of rhythm), and he can’t defend anyone (that’s been a problem for him since UConn). Larry Hughes is a basketball lover's nightmare, and he plays almost identically to Gordon on the offensive end. He does get a lot of steals though, which is ok, but it’s mostly by being selfish (e.g. gambling for steals rather than playing good D). I saw glimpses of the awesomeness of Derrick Rose (he is unbelievably fast out there) but his team was so far gone that he seemed lost. He probably should never give up the ball unless it leads directly to a dunk or a wide open shot.

Anyway, I just thought I’d write to tell you this. I was that moved.

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