Individual Player Conversation Ground Rules

We're going to spend the next few days talking about the seasons of each individual Blazer.  I'll have stats, a look at their progress, and some analysis but more than half of the fun will be seeing what you guys think.

Before we start, though, I have a couple of conversation rules to head off our collective progress towards certain cliffs that people seem to love to drive off of when these things are brought up.

First, criticism of these players is fair game.  We're almost all Blazer fans here.  We all love the team. That's understood.  But loving the team doesn't mean refraining from thinking or saying anything critical about them.  This team is good.  This team isn't perfect.  Nobody in the front office is taking a five-month vacation because they think their job is finished.  Kevin Pritchard and Tom Penn aren't playing Parcheesi all summer.  We get to talk about issues and possible solutions just like they do...maybe not as intelligently, but earnestly nonetheless. 

We all have to understand that this isn't a fairy tale.  These guys are here to win games.  Right now LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are lining up for a decade-long run at titles, much like Michael Jordan and the Bulls did in the 90's.  Right now Kobe Bryant and the L*kers are trying to do the same in the West, albeit with a shorter window.  The Blazers won't be waltzing their way to any dynasties.  They have to do everything they can at each step to make sure they're in the best position possible to compete and ultimately win.  Loyalty is part of that winning equation to a point, but sentiment can't stop a single move that would make us better or we've already lost because somebody else is going to make that move when we don't.  If it became clear that 11 guys in that locker room were helping the team but the 12th, for whatever reason, wasn't optimal, 12 out of 12 guys--every one of them including the player in question--would vote to address the situation.  Nobody wants anything less than the best chance to win.

Without invalidating that point, let me also say that there's criticism and then there's crap.  The two aren't the same.  Use the stats, use your observations, use lessons you've learned from history or watching the rest of the league, use your gut instinct if you want.  If any of those lead you to a critical observation, so be it.  But nobody cares which player you think is a clueless idiot.  Nobody cares that you think Player X "sucks".  And none of these players kept the team from winning 70 and a championship this year.  It's tedious to read that kind of thing.  If you're going to criticize, substantiate and let us debate.

Please note that comments should generally center around the player at hand rather than any player(s) you perceive as competing with that player for a position.  It's not kosher to run down Player A because you prefer Player B who's behind him in the rotation.  Save that comment for Player B's thread and analyze Player A on his own merits.  It's pretty discouraging to read multiple threads full of nuclear comments because everybody is interested in taking out other guys so their horse will be perceived as the best.  It not only makes all the players involved look bad for the preponderance of negative comments in their threads, it makes us look silly as well.  Don't do it.  Talk up your guy all you want when his day comes.  If you're not reasonably sure you can latch on to a grain of objectivity when talking about his competition, just let other people carry the weight that day knowing your guy's turn will come.

To be clear:  both emotion and debate are encouraged.  We are fans.  This is a fan community.   That's what we do.  But the emotion and debate need to be fairly expressed and honest in their aim.  You don't need to come up with a brilliant treatise to participate, just be straightforward in your assessments and your explanations for them.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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