Saturday, November 10, 2012

6 game report card

A little over a week into the 2012-2013 season and it's time for a report card.

Name: Portland Trail Blazers
Teacher: Stotts
Class: NBA
Record: 2-4
Week 1 (Games 1-6) grade: C-

First, the good news. Damian Lillard. This kid can ball. We've all heard the stat lines of how he and Oscar Robinson are the only two players to start their first 3 NBA games with at least 20 points and 7 assists per game.

The opening night Halloween win over the Lakers was scary good. The OT victory in Houston was an eye brow raiser with a head nod. But then came Dallas, the Clips, Spurs. We had fight at home but just ran out of gas.

The two glaring things I see are the lack of defense (49% OPP FG) and the lack of bench depth. If a Blazer starter has an off night (Nic in OKC, Lillard in Dallas) the bench just can't pick up the slack.

Hit the books, boards, and buckets. If you don't apply yourself, you may not see a record above .500 anytime soon and the Blazer g.p.a. will dip and summer school will be mandatory.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Preseason and the eternal optimism

Fans of the Portland Trail Blazers are a different breed of cat. Despite years of heartache they still come around every October with an exuberance reserved for fans of franchises accustomed to lengthy runs of playoff success. Even going into a rebuilding season some fans are going a little crazy with their predictions. I read on a message board recently a guy predicting a 4th place finish in the west. Yikes! Now that Portland has beaten the Lakers in a preseason game we'll have to hear about how great this team is going to be. I really don't want to be the Debbie downer here, so I'm going to just say do it the first game of the year and we'll talk. There's a few pieces in place to turn this ship around, and it will be exciting to see these young guys run. But there are going to be some incredibly frustrating moments this season. Who knows where the Jay Jensen curse will strike next. Are we done with just Elliot Williams? Remember how this team folded like a tent after the controversial goaltending call against the Thunder last year? How will this team react to similar adversity? I will keep my optimism bottled up for now and stick with my team through the bad times. Basically I'm saying wait til next year before the season starts.

Thursday, August 16, 2012


On October 12th, 1995 my Dad and I took a drive. I know the date because it's the day the Rose Garden opened it's doors to the public. I was 14 years old. We walked through the main entrance and into the new and improved home of the Blazers. At the time I had never been to a Blazer game and this was the next best thing. Everything about the new arena was huge. The largest building along with everyone from my hometown could fit inside, twice over. My eyes were wide and I was starstruck. My team. My Blazers. Are gonna play here.

Fast forward 17 years and it's a super hot August day. It's a Thursday morning and I'm in the first month at my new job. One of the perks of my new job is that the Blazers are one of our biggest clients. When the opportunity arose to install a sign at the Rose Garden, I jumped on it.

The Rose Garden sat calm in the hot morning sun. We backed our van into the loading docks, got our visitor badges, and we were escorted by security into the labyrinth of halls under the arena.

"You guys wanna see the locker room?" Asked the security guard.
I was trying to keep calm and cool but inside I was going berserk like an eighth grade schoolgirl seeing The Beebs.
My co-worker and I said, "Sure."

We followed through the huge glass double doors, around a corner and there it was, the locker room of the home team.

"There's a new addition to the locker room." Said the security guard.
He pointed up. It's the pinwheel logo on the ceiling. It was dark, dull, and eh, alright.
"Let me see if this light switch turns it on." Says the security guard.
*Click* The dull hum of glowing greatness lit up the room. It was Christmas in August and I couldn't contain my ear to ear smile.

Sight seeing was fun but it was time for the task at hand.

Today's job was a sign to be installed just above the door to the Blazer's locker room. I opened a box and took out the letters that spelled the team's name.

One by one, I polished the chrome letters, and we adhered them to the wall. Thirty minutes later, my first of hopefully many Trail Blazer projects was complete.

For 41 games a season, my favorite team will pass under a sign that I installed. This is the best perk of any job I've ever had. It was nice to look up at the shiny new letters and reflect upon that day in 1995. When the arena was new. When I was young. When my 14 year old mind couldn't fathom living and working in Portland.

Reflection on life can be pretty sweet. About as sweet as the reflection from those chrome letters on the locker room facade.

Hey! LaMarcus! And the rest of you Blazers. Keep your hands off! Don't smudge up my work!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

20 Years goes by quick

Just over twenty years ago the Blazers won game 4 of the 1992 Finals 93-88 over DA BULLS! That was the last time that the Blazers were victorious in the NBA Finals, let alone be in the Finals period.

Think about this. That '92 team was closer (15 year span) to the 1977 Bill Walton championship team than we are today to the '92 team. It's been quite a Finals drought. Will it be another twenty years before we're in the Finals again? Time will only tell.

This will be a re-tooling time for the Blazers. We've got cap space, draft picks and a GM. I am feeling pretty good about this off season. I just hope this off season isn't a string of twenty more off seasons before we reach the finals. Geez, if it is, I'll be the old codger wearing a super faded '92 Western Conference Champions shirt (which I still have btw) ranting "Back in my day!"


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plenty of fish in the sea

With the long awaited results of the nba draft lottery the options for the Portland Trailblazers this offseason just became more clear. The future gm has many options as to where he wants to go with the future of this franchise. First on his to do list should be hiring a coach with a proven track record of coaching young players and a set game plan. The hodgepodge that was last season ended in a dumpster fire of despair. The problem with youth is the risk of inconsistency. Something blazers fans have unfortunately become accustomed to. As much as I like the players in this supposed "deep" draft, I wouldn't be against trading one or more of our picks in exchange for a serviceable veteran. Point guards are hard to come by, and there really doesn't seem to be a game changer in this draft. If there doesn't seem to be any options in free agency, perhaps a trade on draft day will be in the works.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What's going on?

Oregonian sports writer John Canzano has been writing columns about Paul Allen and his ownership of the Portland Trailblazers for years now. Some have been positive but most are overwhelmingly negative. I must admit that things have been frustrating these past few years. The firing of Richard Cho, Tom Penn, and Kevin Pritchard, the lack of a GM for almost a year, and the lack of contact with the general public have been questionable decisions and Canzano hasn't let the opportunity slip to write up his opinion. Allen is a shrewd businessman. The days of treating the Portland Trailblazers as his toy seem to be over. It's about dollars and cents now. Canzano keeps implying that Allen should sell the team to an owner who is a bit more hands on. I say be careful what you wish for. I was on the fence for a while on whether I wanted Allen out or not. On the one hand he is, in my opinion, the sole reason why Portland doesn't have an National Hockey League franchise. He's toyed with the idea in the past, but if he wanted to bring a team here he'd of done it by now. I've never had anything against Allen in the past. He has been more than generous with his money in order to put a good product on the court in the past. I believe he'll do it again. The franchise is at a crossroads, and it is because of this that Canzano wants Allen to sell the team so he has something to write about. He wanted a statement from Allen regarding his stance on the Trailblazers. What he got was this. Thank you Mr. Allen.You do what you gotta do. I trust you. Just one thing though, bring back the beard. Zing!

Friday, April 6, 2012


Some of my fellow Blazer fans crack me up. Whenever a disgruntled player is rumored to be on the trading block, the crazies come out in force to throw out a trade to have said player come to Portland. Just go to the blazer forum at oregonlive. Go ahead, I'll be here when you get back. It won't take long to find out what I'm talking about.
"Let's trade Kurt Thomas, Luke Babbitt, and a second round pick for Dwight Howard".

"I hear Tom Thibodeau's contract is up with Chicago, next Blazers coach?"

I suppose we've been spoiled with a free spending owner. But the reality is we don't have a gm, free agents don't like our small market (Turkoglu?), and our players aren't worth as much as the fans think. I keep hearing how valuable Batum is as a tradeable piece. Really? He's inconsistent. Maybe we're used to the consistency of laMarcus, but he's about the only consistent thing on this team. I remember people saying we shouldn't trade Rudy because of his upside. But how many more seasons do we have to wait for Batum's upside to reach its potential. I think we've seen it. He's not going to magically turn into Kevin Durant. You don't think the other gms around the league don't see that? He's not worth that much. It's his contract year and he still can't step up night in night out. My point is that I don't want to see us avoid drafting a great young small forward because we have Nic. I don't want to see us draft one and not play him because of Nic either. I say trade him and get what we can for him. And when the cry goes out because we couldn't get Kobe or Wade for him I'm going to laugh.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Spring Break

Spring break time is my favorite time of the year. It takes me back to my youth. It was a week featuring no school, my birthday, and Blazer games. My cousin, Rob and I usually spent this week together. We'd have the Blazers on, a game of Risk going, sports cards strewn about the living room floor and drinking tons of soda. The Blazers were good, life was good and I thought this would never end.

It did though, as all things do. Remember game 7 in the 2000 Western Conference Finals against the Lakers? Of course you do, it still stings doesn't it? That's where the Blazers of my youth ended. I was in my teens. I am now in my thirties and the Blazers have yet to win a playoff series since then.

With all the personnel shake-ups the Blazers did this season I am positive on where things are going. It's baby steps right now for the Blazers. At least it's steps in the right direction even if they are baby steps.

Spring break has come to a close and for at least one more off season (not mathematically eliminated yet of course) I'll have to re-live the days as a kid, when the Blazers were good.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Trade bait

Trade rumors are swirling around Portland tonight with talk of sending Jamal Crawford packing. From his quotes the past few weeks it seems to me he was one of the last guys still putting a positive spin on this season. I heard him saying we are only so and so games out of a playoff spot. I will say this that unless we're getting draft picks or a high level prospect I don't think we should be making any moves. All the armchair quarterbacks were only too happy to get rid of Andre Miller. How'd that turn out? Now they're squawking about this deal or that deal. I don't think any one trade can save this season. I might be wrong, but bringing in a new player won't solve the consistency issues with this team. The leadership is really lacking as well, so bringing in a mercenary isn't going to solve that issue either. The best case scenario for this team is clearly a first round exit. I'm not saying to tank the season, but the writing is on the wall.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Road Trippin'

Rip City was abuzz when the Blazers started out the season 7-2. I too was excited but I was waiting to see something before I totally bought how good we were. That was a winning record on our first real road trip. When the Blazers went 2-4 and hobbled back to Portland I rolled my eyes and said 'typical.' Didn't we just beat OKC on the road? How do we lose to Detroit? Oh, right, the inconsistency bug. It has bitten the Blazers for yet another season.

This seven game road trip is the 'make or break' trip of the year. I predicted a 3-4 road trip. I so far am wrong about Minnesota (what was I thinking?) and right about the Boston game. Going into Washington is a must win. It's more than that, it's a must destroy. I want the Verizon Center to be in ruins when we leave our Nation's capitol with a win.

If we don't win tonight. The season is done. Plain and simple. The wheels will be off the wagon so to speak (they pretty much are as it is) and we will be pushing that wagon all the way back to Portland.

'Oregon or Bust' was the moniker of the settlers heading West on the Oregon Trail. Every Blazer season starts out in my eyes as 'Playoffs or Bust.' The Blazers are so lost on their own trail to the playoffs it's been embarrassing. 'Playoffs or Bust?' This year it's been nothing but a bust.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Playoff nightclub

Well well well. We're a sub .500 team. First time in awhile that we've been here. Now what? It's time to rebuild. Any hopes of reaching the playoffs are dashed by pathetic 0-3 start after the All Star break. And if they're not dashed now, just wait for the seven game road trip.

Would you really want to see the Blazers in the playoffs this season anyway? I wouldn't.

The playoffs are like that swanky nightclub downtown. Showing up to the front door is the first round of the post season. Getting past the first round is getting into the club. If the Blazers get to that playoff nightclub it'd go something like this.

"Uh, I'm on the list."
"What's the name?"
Without even looking down at the list the bouncer just stares back.
"No you're not, move aside."
And as the dumbfounded Blazers meekly step aside the bouncer's face lights up with a smile.
"Thunder! How ya been!? This party's jumpin'! Get your ass in there!"
Thunder and the bouncer high five.
The Blazers catch a glimpse of a party with successful teams.
*SLAM!* The door closes.

I am tired of the Blazers being turned away from the playoff nightclub. We want to be the ones getting the high five from the bouncer. We want to be inside that nightclub with the elite teams. It's time for a reality check. The Blazers aren't on the bouncer's list, and the playoffs shouldn't be on ours. It's time to rebuild.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Overshadowed, but well-rested!

The argument that it was better that Lamarcus playing limited minutes in the all-star game being a good thing is plain stupid. Portland had the longest layoff of any team during the break. The travel to Orlando alone was going to take the greatest toll on the players, sans Dwight Howard and the Threetles. But don't you think not having a game until Wednesday is enough time to recover? Do you really think having your best player only being on the court for 10 minutes during a showcase game was good? After all the hype and hoopla that was getting LA into the all-star game it was a little bit of a letdown. It was still an honor to have him selected, and a tribute to his play thus far. But on a night where the stars shine, ours was dim.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fuck it, cut the cord!

With the news of our new edition at 1 center court, the Blazer brain trust has a decision to make pending Joel's physical. Who to cut come Sunday? Candidates include point guard Armon Johnson, center Chris Johnson, and Luke Babbitt. I threw Babbitt in there because he just looks like a dork, I don't actually think there's even the slightest chance he gets cut.
 The player I'm hoping does get cut is Greg Oden. I knew going into this season he had already played his last game in Portland. I knew this when his rehab was going at a glacial pace. Remember that Joel recovered faster than even AFTER having a setback three months into his recovery when they got hurt roughly at the same time. Greg will be gone at the end of the year anyway, he has a good chance of never playing another game, period. So why not just hasten the process? Have Paul Allen buy him a seat next to Patty Mills, so he can keep doing what he's been doing for so long.
 I do feel bad for Greg on the human level. He wants nothing more than to help this team win. Jason Quick brought up the stat that in the 76 games that Oden, Roy, and Aldridge played together Portland were 51-25. They're a cursed franchise! Cursed I tell ya! What do you think, Greg?

Joel's back!

Joel Przybilla's returning to Rip City. He turned the Miami Heat down to come back to the Blazers. I applaud him for this. Most players in their waning days of an NBA career go somewhere just to try and pick up a ring and ride off into the sunset. It shows that  Przybilla is going for what fits him best. He probably won't see a lot of minutes and that's fine. He's here to be a role model. He will bring back the toughness, a lacking trait on the Blazers this season. I hope this will result in hard (but clean) fouls. I am tired of easy buckets at the rim from the opposition. We're so soft and nice in the interior it looks like a damn tea party. "Welcome to our party, have a crumpet to go along with your layup!" Joel will end the tea party and throw the crumpets back in the opposition's face with his toughness.

This will probably result in having Armon Johnson (who?) waived to create a roster spot. If the Blazers have a shot at getting higher than the 8th seed (or into the playoffs at all) we'll need Joel and his junkyard dog attitude on this team. Joel has 'Not in my house' tattooed on his arm and I'm very happy that he's calling the Rose Garden 'his house.'  ~JK

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I blame Martell for our woes

Watching the guys on PTI break down the news of the day brought up a few interesting topics. Primarily the story of another Oden knee surgery. I had already written him off, so I can't say that I care much. But the story of Martell Webster going for the dunk when his team is down 3 with the clock winding down made me think about something.
Portland's front office is getting some heat for taking Oden over Kevin Durant, and deservedly so. But I think the franchise changing decision happened two years prior. Portland had just beaten the odds and won the 3rd pick in the 2005 draft lottery. Andrew Bogut and Marvin Williams were the consensus 1st and 2nd picks, respectively. Portland hadn't expected to have this pick, and thought they'd use this to their advantage. They had taken a point guard the year prior by reaching to choose Sebastian Telfair. So the genius that is the Blazers brain trust decided to trade down to pick 6 and draft Martell, instead of the three point guards, Derron Williams, Chris Paul, and Ray Felton. One could argue that they didn't need a point guard. Then why did they draft Jarrett Jack with their pick later in the first round? Not buying it. You can talk upside all day, but when all is said and done everyone knew there were two special point guards in that draft. Martell was a project, and with hindsight we can see that project has failed. So let's say we take Derron Williams instead of trading the pick, he was rated higher than Chris Paul. His averages of a little over 10 points and 4 assists were comparable with those of Telfair (9 points, 3 assists) or Steve Blake (8 points, 4 assists). Portland had the worst record in the NBA the following year. I don't think the hypothetical addition of Derron Williams would have changed that. We don't get the 1st pick, we don't get the 2nd pick, we don't get the 3rd pick. We get the 4th pick, trade it for LaMarcus, trade Telfair for the pick that would be Brandon Roy. Things are looking up in Portland! Which means we improve our record beyond the sixth worst record. Who do we take in that draft? Who cares, we wouldn't have had to take Oden! He would be some other teams problem right now. We would still have the Roy situation, but we would either have an expiring contract of Derron Williams this year or have traded him for some value instead of Ray Felton. What'd we trade Martell for? Luke Babbitt. How's that working out for us so far?

Monday, February 20, 2012

No titles in stock at a small market

I was chatting on during the win over Atlanta the other night and the subject of bringing a title to Portland came up. When does it not? We were talking about the city of Dallas and owners. The idea came up that Portland is a better city than Dallas and why couldn't we bring a title here. I personally never have been to Dallas aside from their airport, so I can't truly say which is a better city. Portland has a better airport, but that's all I can say. I'm not gonna mess with Texas.

So, why not a title in Portland?
I was bringing up the points about how we don't have a GM (only team in the NBA that doesn't) and a lacking front office. I also brought up the largest factor, we're a small market.

After losing the finals in '92 to the Bulls, Drexler said something along the lines of; "Portland can't win a title because the league doesn't want a small market team to win." I don't think that's entirely true. I can see where Clyde is going with this. Below is an interesting point I found to why that crown in front of the Rose Garden is still on its side.

Which NBA city, with less than a million people in its proper, with only one pro team (hockey and soccer don't count) was the last to win an NBA championship? Portland, with our very own Portland Trailblazers, 35 years ago. San Antonio has only one pro team but they're the 7th largest city in the U.S. Hardly a small market.

Look at where the championships from football, baseball and basketball are coming from. Cities with multiple franchises, teams from larger markets. To make the Rose City bloom in the sporting world, we need another pro team. I feel that crown may be on its side for quite some time without one.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The Trailcats have once again established their winning ways by defending the home court. This victory coincided with the return of LaMarcus Aldridge. It's becoming painfully clear that any sort of consistency for any team is going to be very hard to come by this season. These teams can't possibly be performing at their best when they are not accustomed to playing this much. Even teams with younger players are finding out that they can play a great game one night and come out completely flat the next. With a team like Portland it's also becoming clear that the lack of team chemistry might be their downfall. Ray Felton is taking a lot of heat for his performance, most of it deservedly so. But the team as a whole has been very inconsistent. They are so close to being an upper echelon NBA team on some nights, but their inability to finish the close games means they are on the outside looking in for the playoff race.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Retire Roy's Jersey? Nope.

Was Roy a tremendous talent? Yes.
A three time All Star, Rookie of the Year, and a nod to the All NBA teams (second team in ‘08-’09 and third team in ‘09-10) was pretty good, but c’mon, it seems like Rip City wants to let emotion rush this decision.

So why not retire his number? First off, the Rose Garden is far too banner happy. It cheapens the accolades of fabric drafting from the rafters. We have a banner for Co-Champions of the Northwest Division. We’re proud of a tied the regular season?
It’s all about what a team does in the post season. Isn’t that where champions are made and trophies won?

Speaking of champions. Some of the retired numbers in the Rose Garden are only there because they were on a championship team. Had we not won a championship, some of those players (I’m looking at you Bobby Gross) would have never made it up there. There was a water boy on the championship team wasn’t there? Get his name up there, oh and the ball boys too.

*Chuckling and shaking my head*

If it was up to me, I'd have banners for our; World Championship, our two Western Conference Championships, Drexler, Walton and the mic for Bill Schonely. These six without a doubt. I could see arguments for Wicks, Lucas and Porter too. The rest are up for debate.

How many playoff series did we win with Brandon Roy? None. He didn’t take us past round one. In fact, he couldn’t even take us to a game 7 in the first round. A retired player has to have a relationship with a team, not a fling. Brandon Roy, in the scheme of things, was a fling, a great fling none-the-less. But his injuries ruined his career. And in my eyes, the chance for his jersey to hang in the Rose Garden.

Lets not over look some Blazers that deserve if far (yes far) more than Brandon Roy does. Jerome Kersey, Cliff Robinson and Buck Williams. Check their stats if you don’t believe me. Oh, and these three all made it past the first round if you can’t recall.

With all due respect.
I know I sound like a heartless jerk about Roy. Brandon is my favorite Blazer of all time. I felt like I was going to puke when he had to retire. I just don’t want to hand out participation trophies just because a career ended too soon. That’s for the Rose Garden to do.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Keep your legs

One trend that keeps popping up this season is the Blazers inability to finish in close games. After a few minutes of anger I decided to give the team a break for playing the third game in three nights. Both teams played terribly last night. Only giving up 74 and 71 points respectively would point to good defense. That wasn't the case last night. Fatigue and poor shot selection were the main reasons neither team could seize control down the stretch. But unfortunately for Portland their drought occurred late in the game unlike the Clippers, which happened before half time. My frustrations were doubled with the university of Oregon blowing a late lead earlier in the night against Cal. Something has to give in Portland. The short season doesn't allow much leeway for many more games to get away.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rip City, rap city

Tonight the Portland Trailblazers will wear their alternate "rip city" home jerseys.
Even more rare than the alternate red road jersey, these jerseys are only dusted off on special occasions. I'm thinking the motivation behind this decision comes from the importance of tonight's game. Not only are the Clippers a viable opponent, but this is the last game of a three games in three nights stretch for the Blazers. If they don't come out to play then it could be a long night. I happen to think, in my unbiased opinion, that Portland have some of the best jerseys in the league. That being said, our alternate jerseys are just so cool that the team should break them out more often. Example, when they played at New Orleans the other night, we played in our home whites because the Nuthorns were color blind.

 I think the red jerseys would have been pretty cool in that situation. We weren't the home team! I think they should use these jerseys at least a few more times this year. Why not flaunt it if you got it?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rock Bottom

In light of tonight's embarrassing loss to the Bullets, along with the injury to Aldridge it is clear that the cursed franchise has become snake bit again. This is only one loss in the middle of a season where losses are coming along pretty regularly, but this is easily the most disappointing loss of the season.

The beloved franchise was supposed to come into this game with a renewed focus. The switch to Nic Batum in favor of Raymond Felton was supposed to reinvigorate the starting lineup. Instead the result was a bad loss to a very bad team, on Oregon’s birthday no less. Sure Batum had a great game, but I don’t think it’s far fetched to predict he’ll score about 10 points in his next two outings. The loss of Aldridge so close to the All-Star game will add to the misery if he is unable to play in that showcase. Not only will it be two years in a row that our all-star has been unable to play, but it would have been the high point of Aldridge’s young career. Keep in mind he doesn’t have any buzzer beating 3’s, or 4th quarter comebacks on his resume like Brandon Roy.

My suggestion for this team is a three part plan.
First, fire Jay Jensen effective immediately and hire a competent trainer who doesn’t have a history breaking his players.

Second, find Tony Robbins and put him on the Blazers flight to the bay area. Nate McMillan clearly doesn’t have what it takes to light a fire under this team.

Third, see if the Nuggets want Raymond Felton back. Say pretty please. Say you’ll be their friend on Facebook. A point guard who does nothing but miss shots and turn the ball over is not what this team needs.

There was a fourth part to my plan that involved Greg Oden finding a pair of Lt. Dans magic legs, but he’ll just leave at the end of the season and it will be some other lucky teams gain.