Let me confess on the outset: I was a confirmed Surge Man-Crush guy at the beginning of the season. I was thrilled every time Nate put him in, cringed every time he made a turnover, and (amazingly enough) optimistic when he hoisted his "arcing" jump shot.
Then, as we famously know, things fell apart. He clearly was not the PG we thought he was in '06-'07. Still not sure what happened to the guy.
The reason I wanted to post was this. There were Surge Skeptics and JJ Defenders all through the season: notably Dave of BE. They were mostly correct in their assessment. Now, as I read the subtext from Dave and Quick and Freeman and others about Pteri, I see--as a great steaming, smelly, turd in the pristine white linoleum floor--another controversey brewing with Finnish.
Is it the case that all Surge loverse will simply move their affection over to Finnish?
And why would they want to do that? I offer the following four reasons in reverse order of plausibility.
- Race thing. Look, I know it's out there whether it's subconsciously or consciously. I suppose many could plausibly argue that our largely white fanbase is predisposed to like a white PG. Look, I don't give much credence to its merit but I also know I'm manifestly unqualified to comment on it. So I just want to stipulate it and move on to items that I think are more interesting. I do note, for the record, that there aren't a lot of Steve Blake man-crushes going on, though lots of respect. I personally think there are much different dynamics going on.
- The Flashy Pass. I think advanced basketball statistics is beginning to corroborate fans' intuition: the aggressive and risky pass--in the aggregate--is more valuable than the risk of the turnover. And, even better, it's exciting!! We see it in Surge just like we saw it in Jason Williams, all the Streetballers on ESPN2, and--we Finnish lovers hope--Finnish himself. We have dreams of a sleeker version of Magic Johnson dishing out the dimes with Stocktonesque reliability.
- The Pritchard Investment. Just like we want to get in on the ground floor of investment opportunities, we want to see one of KP's late-round guesses turn out to be a dot-com style success. If Finnish or Surge really did become the "most awesomest" PG ever, wouldn't that be the greatest Pritch-slap of all time? And what a great return for us! We hope for Finnish and Surge for the same reasons we hope for our 401(k)s and lottery tickets.
- Euro-Love. It's sort of cool--if we can't have a hometown boy like Brandon Roy--to have someone from an exotic location. It is cool to have a couple of Spaniards on the team. It would be cool to have a Fin on the team. I think one of the great things about our country is--for the most part--we embrace the notion of immigration (anti-globalization advocates, border police and other populists, please step aside with your political yammering for the moment). We liked having a Russian and a Korean on the time. We are wildly in love with the notion of the Portland Trailblazers becoming an international obsession in foreign lands. It helps us connect with them. I think I want these guys to succeed moreso than a Jarrett Jack or a Jerryd Blayless is simply because I like to think of meeting fellow Blazer fans on the Riviera someday (or, more likely, Las Vegas). This is really kind of a cool concept.
When we get down to it, who we decide to cheer for in a sports team has a lot to do with where we grew up. Just like your religion, you're trained to adore a certain team. But the way in which you adore that team says a lot. For Surge- and Finnish-Man-Crushers, I think one of the main reasons we cheer for these players' success has some to do with basketball but a great lot to do with a dinstinctly American kind of spirit. That we can take these guys from other places and--given a strong work ethic--they can succeed in ways impossible in other parts of the world. That's really a cool thing.
So, as I see journalists approach the season with trepidation of revisiting the old PG controverseys that will now swirl around Finnish, Surge, Blayless, and Blake, I'm going to unabashely cheer for my Euros. I want them to do well. And I'm not going to be ashamed to cheer for Euros who want to come here and play for an American team that represents my home town. Their success will mean more to me, for that reason, than the success of otherwise identical players.