I'd like to pose a few questions, and offer a few opinions. In light of Hedo Tukoglu's sudden "snubbing" of Portland for Toronto. One of the first specters to arise is the phrase " Portland can't attract top notch Free Agents". I've never believed that, and even with this unfolding with Hedo, I still don't. Here's why....
In the glory days of Bob Whittsit, Paul Allen threw money at The Blazers like a sugar crazed 10 year old throws marshmallows at a campfire. I think a lot of teams have caught up with The Blazers in terms of available amenities, but I also remember that The Blazers were one of the first teams to have their own private, specially modified team plane, courtesy of Paul Allen. Now that has become more common, but it wasn't so much 15-20 years ago. I also remember reading articles with quotes from players of the period that The Blazers franchise had the reputation of treating it's players right. In terms of quality of facilities, catering, air-travel and perks. Portland WAS a location that free agents wanted to come to. Through free agency or trades we attracted and/or obtained players that were very coveted by other teams. Scottie Pippen, Rod Strickland, Mario Elle, Danny Ainge and Detlef Shrempf...they all decided to wear the Red and Black...of course it didn't hurt that the team was a perennial playoff contender and had been seen in the finals more than once. Yes, some were trades, but we know players that are 1/2 way decent in the N.B.A. can Nix a trade by simply complaining publicly that they don't want to go to that team. Usually that ends it right there. Pippen, Strickland (first time around) and Ainge and Shrempf (first time) were all players that would of had that trump card, and they did NOT play it. They wanted to come to Portland. In a time of recession, I've got to believe playing for a owner such as Paul Allen should be a huge draw for players. Even right now, when many owners are instructing management to cut costs, Allens only public decree has been his desire to upgrade the roster. That's a HUGE benefit to being a Blazer. Paul Allen has got to be one of the best owners in which to play for, thus making The Blazers a desirable destination.
By the way, semi-related. Do you think it hurts The Blazers when rumors leak that we tried to obtain Shaq but he say's he Nixed the trade because he didn't want to come to Portland? The Blazers can deny it, but it becomes We Said, He Said and I've got to think a lot of players read statements like that and have to think....Hmm..why doesn't Shaq want to play for Portland...( I think it does hurt).
In the wake of Hedo this one hurts, and bother me the most. The Idea that Portland, as a city and location is undesirable. We might never know in the Hedo situation what real percentage of reality this might of had in his decision but the rumor that his wife wanted Toronto because she felt it was more "European Friendly" and/or Cosmopolitan is out in the public psyche. What bothers me is that Blazer fans themselves have a tendency to take this image to heart themselves...we can be an insecure fan base, and it doesn't take much for us to start beating our chests and crying woe our NW. Hicksville ways, we can't compete with LA, NY as destinations...woe is us... I call BS on those fans.
What a person might like in a city is individual and subjective. I think a higher degree than the norm of Blazer players have decided they like Portland and The NW so much after being here that they have decided to stay after their tenure as Blazers is finished. Channing Fryeevidently LOVES Portland. Not to sound like a travel brochure, but I've been to NY and I've been to London, and yes I'm prejudice because I live here but as much as I liked NY and liked London, I wouldn't trade the NW or Portland for either. In Oregon, you have the rivers, the mountains, the desert, the forests and a diversity of environments all within less than a days drive from almost any location. Find that anywhere else. Plus don't let it out, but it doesn't rain as much as people outside of Oregon like to think. In any case, of course it all depends on what a person personally wants from a environment, city and state but to think Portland and Oregon isn't desirable IMO is ridiculous. No we aren't the Hollywood Mecca, we aren't The Big Apple, but why should we assume that NOT being those things is a bad thing?
Along the same argument, I say with these players and players families even if Portland doesn't seem to fit the mold or environment you want, why should it matter much? Hedo and almost any free agent that we might desire that would make a difference, would make millions of dollars. These players are wealthy men. Just as an example, use Hedo. My feeling is during the playing season, these players are traveling and working and practicing a lot. A gym is a gym is a gym. Whether in NY, LA or Tualatin. Sure, during home stands and breaks it's desirable to have family around, but again these guys are very wealthy. Multiple residences are something they can easily afford. How hard would it be for Mrs. Turkoglu to live WHEREVER she wished, and then fly in to Portland from time to time to be with Mr. Turkoglu in a Portland residence? 1/2 the time of a season or more, these players are on the road, which means their environment is planes, buses and hotel rooms in cities ranging from Portland, Utah and Toronto to NY and LA. In the off season, they can live wherever they want. So I don't get it? Portland not "Cosmopolitan" enough for you? No Hollywood Agents lurking? Not enough Paparazzi? Go ahead, in the off-season go where ever you want to be. If during the season you are lamenting the absence of these things I'd suggest you aren't focusing on your job enough.
So that's it. I don't buy or accept the idea that Portland isn't a desirable location. I don't label The Blazers or myself as living in some "second class" environment that doesn't appeal to basketball players. I'm sure in the next few days, in light of Hedo I'll be forced to hear the moaning lament of how Portland can NEVER attract the big name free agent...I don't buy it, I don't believe it, and I do not get "fans" that want to put themselves down by attaching that label to themselves. Uber Wealthy and Generous Owner willing to spend for success, Beautiful City and State, a fan base that if it has a weakness, might be that it is OVER devoted. Good luck finding those elements in Toronto, or NY, LA or Cleveland (for Mr. Shaq O' Neal) .