It's Time

After the mass media posting of Greg Oden's workout yesterday (see post just below this one) a couple of people wrote and asked if I thought he could win Rookie of the Year this season.  I've sort of discussed that before, but to recap...I doubt it because:

  • One of this year's flashy guards will score more and probably dish a few assists.  Media-types usually look at points first and other offensive stats second.  Rebounds aren't that sexy and blocks less so.  (It's hard to argue why you voted for someone because he got 2.5 of something.)
  • Oden has high expectations and these awards usually go to players who exceed low expectations rather than fulfill high ones.
  • Oden will be surrounded by talent, leading to the old chestnut, "He had a good team around him whereas Inveterate Chucker X single-handedly led his team to every one of their 18 wins."  As if Oden wasn't making his teammates better.  Sadly ball hoggery usually wins out over winning basketball when it comes to these things and petunias stick out in manure more than in a blooming garden.

However to me this isn't the main point.  I have foreshadowed this moment for a couple of years now...hinted at it each off-season.  I am happy to report it is finally here.  The time has come for us to say, as a team and as fans, you can have your Rookie of the Year Award.  We have more important fish to fry.

I'm not saying that we'd turn down the honor or be unhappy should it fall in Greg's hands.  That's fine and dandy.  But it doesn't really matter.  More often than not those things are sops to soothe the pain of losing teams, something to hang your hat on in the off-season when the rest of reality is too bleak to contemplate.  Been there, done that...no more.  Even if the award comes, that's not the point.  Nice job, round of applause, and let's get on with it.

The point of the Rookie of the Year award is to recognize something unusual and outstanding.  You want to see something unusual and outstanding?  Let's win a playoff series.  I have been on record for a long time saying this is the year Portland returns to the playoffs.  That would be quite a success.  But because the top of the West is still experienced and intimidating it's not likely the Blazers will crack the top five.  That means returning to the post-season on the road against a tested, talented playoff team.  It's a tall order indeed, and one worthy of this team.  If you're going to shoot for something, shoot for that.  In the long run it will mean more, both to your team and about your team, than another name on the R.O.Y. list.

We could not have said this in seasons past.  It makes sense now though.  The team has changed.  The focus needs to change too.  These guys weren't just drafted to win awards, nor to make us ooh and aah with their future promise (as much of a hobby as that's been around Blazerland).  These guys were drafted to drive into the post-season, control it, and win rings.  It's time to put the other stuff aside, accepting it as a by-product of good play perhaps but not being satisfied with it.  It's time to get about the business of winning--not statistics or moral victories or playing time, but winning--and to settle for nothing less.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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