So the season's over. And it kind of hurts. In some ways it really hurts. I'll be honest with you up front. If you're looking for magic tips to take away the pain I don't have any. The Blazers have gone to the playoffs twenty-seven times since 1977. Only the first trip didn't end with heartache. I was quite young, but I've been there for every one of those heartaches. I remember Seattle in '78, Detroit in '90, L.A. in '91, Chicago in '92, and with most of you L.A. again in 2000 plus some Utahs, Dallases, and San Antonios thrown in. The only perspective I can give you is kind of cheap. Don't think it would have been better had we made the next round and then bowed out. It hurts worse the farther you go. Only a championship ends in unbridled happiness. But even a little bit of that happiness makes up for all the rest of it and more.
It was a good season, though. 54 wins is an amazing mark for this team. The hardest leap in the NBA is from contender to champion. But right after that comes the leap from mediocrity to good-ness. It's relatively easy to get from 30 to 40. You just have to not stink that bad. Getting from 40 to 50 is a huge deal. Going in four years from 21 to 32 to 41 to 54 is incredible. And that last leap is the most striking by far. Short of a series victory, the Blazers got what they wanted out of the playoffs as well. They didn't get swept. They didn't give up. They never got that road win but they fought within sight of it twice. They played a team with tough matchups as well as could have been expected. They notched a couple of wins and found out what the post-season is all about. They have all of the tools and experience to come ready next spring. They still may not be ready to go all the way but they'll be better prepared to get past this step. But we'll talk more about that later. And even that won't ease the heartache of not playing Saturday entirely.
I've never figured out how to make the hurt go away, but I can tell you how I deal with it. It's my own ritual. I've never been blogging when the Blazers have lost a playoff series so I've never shared it. It's called Color Day.
Color Day means tomorrow, the day right after we got eliminated from the playoffs, I will get up, shower, and put on my Blazer clothing just as if we had another game tomorrow night. T-shirt, warm-ups, cap...whatever I've got, whatever I've been wearing for the past few weeks. I invite you to as well. I'll tell you what will happen if you do. People are going to look at you really funny. "What's up with you?" their eyes will say. "Don't you know they lost last night? It's over! Finished! Let it go already!"
You know what? I don't think so. Oh, this year is done. I have no illusions about that. But if you think my Blazer fandom is just about this year, you don't know Blazer fandom. More to the point, if you think Blazer fandom is just about winning...that it gets crumpled up and thrown in the laundry basket once the team loses, you don't know Blazer fandom.
I believe not just because the team wins. I believe not just on the days when it feels good to do so. I don't believe just to get credit and high fives when things are going well, as if this were all about my own status. I believe because this is something good and worth following. And when something is worth following you stick with it even when you don't get an immediate reward. If Brandon Roy passed me in the street today I would smile and nod, shake his hand and thank him...even though the team lost. Heck, if Michael Ruffin passed me in the street today I would smile and nod, shake his hand and thank him...even though the team lost. I feel just as good and proud about being a Blazer fan today--the day after--as I did yesterday. And I'm going to feel that good tomorrow and the next day and every day until the season starts again.
So look at my colors. This is who I am. This is who we're supposed to be. If you're going to do something, do it. Don't be half-baked about it. And I'm going to be a Blazer fan, now and always.
I invite you to join me in Color Day--my own special catharsis--tomorrow. On the day when people will be least likely to wear their Blazer stuff, wear yours with pride. It was a great season and it only gets better from here.
And by the way, if you're thinking the coverage here stops with the end of the season, you also have another think coming. In some ways the off-season is busier around here than the regular season. Officially we'll cover the draft (including the Annual Blazersedge Readers Mock Draft), we'll be down at Summer League with media credentials, and we'll be on top of trade reports and salary cap info as usual. We'll also have room and time for a lot more philosophical and speculative talk that gets lost in the rush of the regular season. We post nearly every day, even during the off-season. This is also time for you to make great use of the sidebar as all topics begin to open. We're going to have an amazing summer. We do a pretty good job of getting you through those months until training camp starts again. I daresay you won't find discussion and coverage in the same way anywhere else, as our long-time readers can attest. Make sure you check out and join in the fun. First up: a review of the season and of each player, their performance, growth, and contributions, and their prospects for the future. Your input will be valued!