This is something I just wrote and posted at my blog. I hope you all like it. I know there are some amazing writers on this blog so I'm always up for some constructive criticism. Take care.
I’ve always loved the name of our arena.
The Rose Garden.
When news broke a while back that the name might be changed, I became like a fanatic freedom fighter. “I refuse to call it anything but the Rose Garden,” I emphatically pounded my fist on the table. “It will always be the Rose Garden!” My roommates all glanced at each other momentarily and then glanced right back into their books. I was in Los Angeles County, the unfortunate Mecca for those fair-weather, smog inhaling Lakers fans. I was right in the northern area, surrounded by fans of the “Purple and Gold” and—even worse—those who did not care.
Being a Portland Trail Blazers fan in an area like Southern California can be treacherous to your heath. I remember one moment in 2000 when my family went to visit Disneyland, a bright spot in what is otherwise an awful town. We were walking through one of the major streets when someone in a Lakers jersey walked by. I looked directly at the chubby white man with intense dislike. This was in the heat of the Western Conference Finals the one with the Game 7, which ruined [THIS SECTION HAS BEEN REMOVED FOR HEALTH REASONS]. I was about to open my mouth and say something when someone else stepped out of the walking crowd. He was holding his beautiful young wife’s hand and definitely looked like a tourist. He gazed at the Mr. Lakers fan’s jersey and said in the most deathly polite way: “Lakers suck.”
The moment began in slow motion. The moment when the words left the brave man’s mouth was a freeze frame. It was like the screen grab basketball television announcers use to draw diagrams about what the team did right during a game.
You see, Tom, right here we have a zone defense that completely collapsed under the weight of that Blazer offense coming out of that man’s mouth. Maybe the announcers would have drawn a circle around the fat Lakers fan’s torso and a large ‘X’ on his face. While the analogy works, I think a better picture is painted when you consider the moment in reference to a good action film. This could be the moment when the bullet hits the villain right in the gut and he gyrates everywhere until he falls to his usually gory death. I hope I’m conveying the intensity and utter drip-drip-like tension of the moment here.
The evil Lakers fan looked around, obviously shocked. I’m sure if he was like any other Laker fan he must have picked up his jersey at the end of the season when he realized the team was worth supporting. He probably didn’t even know who number 34 was. He opened his mouth possibly thinking of a good retort in his mind. It took a second longer than he or anyone else anticipated which gave me an excellent opportunity. I had been presented with an incredible chance to show my Blazers pride and to stick the dagger to an unaware victim. I looked at the man who had thrown the first volley and smiled. He nodded back, probably insecure in his sexuality, and confused at why this young Indian boy was smiling at him. It was like in those old wrestling videos when Bret Hart tags Owen Hart and Owen comes rushing out with a gorgeous haymaker that knocks the opponent out. It was like those Athenians who stayed with the Spartans to fight the advancing Persian army. I straightened my shoulders and said “Yeah! Lakers suck!”
Ah. What a glorious attack! What wit!
Not in the least. I had the equivalent of a Maginot on offense. I had allowed my tongue to create an insipid phrase in a glorious battle between professional basketball fans. The other Blazers fan looked away, his heartbreak showing on his face. Sweat formed on my forehead and my palms were clammy like the time I held Stacy Weil’s hands during All My Life by Kc and JoJo at the 8th grade dance.
I had failed. Or at least I believed I did until the Lakers fan looked at me, shocked that two fans from Portland were in his turf. He looked down at the ground and shuffled his feet away slowly. I perked my shoulders up and had the largest grin that I have ever had on my face. A corner-to-corner smile was plastered across this young Blazers fans place as I walked away. The good guys had won.
It is now 2008 and another Blazers season has begun. We aren’t as good as the team we had in 2000 but boy, it feels good to be a fan again. Sure we lost that 2000 series, but maybe it was a good thing. It is nice to come up from Los Angeles for my winter break and see my dear friend Lainie share about how much she loves our guys.
Our guys. I like that.
We may not win this year. And we may not win next year.
Heck, they may even change the name of the arena to Chase Bank Arena. No they may not, that would be awful.
Whatever happens though, these guys are our guys. And I would go fight for their cause any day.