Holiday Ode to Portland and Blazer fans:
Thank you for all of the electricity that has filled the building and the city for the past 2 seasons and more. Thank you for the passion, the love, and the excitement. It has been a whirlwind really, but all of it has kept me captivated and fired up every night the Blazers play. I am grateful.
My basketball fandom began as a young kid outside of Boston where a father, who could care less about sports, introduced me to Larry Bird, McHale, Parish, DJ, and Ainge, because it was his duty. I took those amazing games and ran forward, a basketball fan forever. As I grew a bit older I would follow the Celtics through the years of Bird’s decline, Reggie Lewis’ death, and the onslaught of Michael Jordan. It was a blessing; really, to grow up at an age when I could forget about the home team and be a fan of who was good, appreciate the talent from my book of basketball cards rather than just the home squad. For some reason, as a kid while the Celtics and Lakers rivalry faded, I found myself keenly rooting for underdogs. I was naive enough that I didn’t understand that a kid from Boston should not root for the Knicks. I simply wanted to see Jordan get beat. It was weird. I loved MJ; I had posters splattered around the room, my favorite being “wings” heading up the staircase. But when that ball was tipped, I couldn’t help but root for the underdog. In 91 it began…Something about those Trailblazers…with a stadium that looked extra dark on TV, in a far away city named after one I lived close to in Maine, appealed to me. I’m not sure why to this day, Underdogs? Clyde? Kersey? The jerseys? I don’t know why, but I arbitrarily picked that team, I suppose as many kids do. They couldn’t defeat Jordan but the summer of 92 had me marking the driveway with chalk so Porter could drain threes and Duckworth could hit turnarounds on the baseline. I'd heave the ball around while announcing the players' names always making sure the Blazers won.
If it weren’t for those days I’m not sure I’d live here now…Growing into my teens my love for hoops remained, while a love for the outdoors grew as well. Family subscribed me to Outside magazine every year as a gift. Oregon was in EVERY issue, and I always noticed. Eventually I reached a crossroads in my life and needed a change, an experience. Not even old enough to drink (legally) two close friends and I packed up a couple vehicles and headed west, destination Portland. We needed out, manifest destiny, whatever you wanna call it, we were west coast bound and without ever coming to the Northwest, we (I) was ready to make it home. Into the great wide open….
Was it a childhood appreciation for the underdog Trailblazers? Growing older and fond of nature and a city that incorporates it? A combo? Yes, but once I got here; it was also you, the fan-base, the passionate citizens who take pride in their place of rest and their neighbor’s well being. This pride grew ten-fold for me when I witnessed you all stand up for your morals and your values and ask for something better. This was not a city/fanbase that should have been disgraced the way it was by our players and management. But unique to most cities worldwide, the fans were able to change it.
When I first moved here I got a job as an in-seat server at Trailblazer games. I wanted to be there every night, and wanted a position where I could see some of the action. My first season was the last the Blazers would make the playoffs after their tremendous run through the late 90s and early 00s. After that I was lucky enough to move to courtside as a server, but unlucky enough to see the first seasons in Trailblazer history where the stadium resembled a large library. Where fans showed up to see opposing teams’ players, and our players were the ass-end of jokes. It was hard for me too. I was new, finally got close to the game courtside, but was ashamed of the product I had grown to love. I was growing to love the city, but couldn’t believe I moved here at the team’s demise…But I see now, that demise was intentional. It got us somewhere great.
The amazing thing is, I’ve been serving the same section at mid-court for 7 seasons…Through all these years, you, along with some of the wealthiest fans, night in and night out hung in there. You demanded better, with passion, resolve, and hope for something great. Most of my customers have been there before and after the Z-Bo daze. They high-five me the same as they did with a Roy buzzer beater in his rookie year, as when he hits one now....Perhaps with a bigger smile, and with more pride, but they've hung in there, through thick and thin, just as all of you have.
One of my best friends just joined us out here in Portland from New England. He's a huge Celtics fan, growing up near the team, but, like I, after coming to Portland, is blown away with the true love here. He’s already shedding shamrocks;-) Its unique here, it's Green Bay Packer-like, every detail analyzed. We compare to Red Sox nation BEFORE the championships and the bandwagon. Every player under the microscope, scrutinized, analyzed, dissected, projected, rejected, and/or accepted...THIS is being a fan. With pride in your city, comes pride in your team and vice versa. With a team you’ve demanded disassembled and reassembled to greatness, lets not lose sight of how good we have it. Take a step back; remember why you’re a fan. Celebrate Portland as truly a unique place in sports, anywhere in the world. A place where one team helps define a whole people and one love for a city helps define a team. Lets enjoy it. We’ve had great misfortune this season with injury, but now are given an opportunity to enjoy the depth we analyzed into oblivion. Now’s the time to pack the Garden, scream, shout, dance, and support. We all know we nearly have the exact personnel we could have only dreamed of three seasons ago, but we need not take our good fortunes for granted. This holiday season give thanks to Trailblazer fans by being the best one you can be by supporting them through thick and thin, this IS the team you’ve been waiting for….
By supporting the guys who can actually play, you’re also supporting our amazing front office, our injured players, Mo Lucas, Paul Allen, all the while supporting the integrity of a truly amazing place to live, and the best team in the world to be a fan of. Thank you Rip City for having me, I am so ecstatic to support this city and this team with all I've got, and with all of you.