My dad has been a Blazers fan literally since I can remember. He likes to tell the story about listening to the title clinching game in '77 with my then infant sister in his arms, and being unable to scream and celebrate like he wanted to. He was doing that hoarse, fake scream you do when you've got to be quiet, but you also have got to give voice to the happiness bubbling uncontrollably out of you.
As a younger kid, I didn't care about basketball beyond playing for my local boy's club, and shooting baskets on my street (the curb was my "rebounder"). My attention span didn't allow for sitting there and watching little men run around for two hours. But as I got older, and my father's own fervor grew, I started to get the bug, little by little.
I started watching every game that was televised. I started listening to every other game on the radio. But, at this point, my burgeoning fandom was isolated, private. Once, during a particularly dramatic finish when Jerome Kersey stole an inbounds pass and made a lunging, half court bank shot of a three pointer to win, we came together in the kitchen with our excited grins and awkwardly jumped around a bit. And then we retired to our separate corners once again.
The teams back then were exciting, but average. Guys like Billy Ray Bates made for some interesting highlights, but not all that many wins. I had missed the glory days of the late '70s, of course, because I was too young to care. Now, as we entered the late '80s, things were getting interesting again. And my dad and I started to watch the games together. This team was our team, embraced at the same time, loved at the same time. We watched a game against the Milwaukie Bucks in that pivotal season when the terminally uptight Mike Schuler was replaced by the steady Rick Adelman. It was tough to see the writing on the wall, even then. The Blazers lost that game and many more besides. But we were cheering together, and being disappointed together, and that was new. Turned out, that would not be the only thing that would be new.
The next year was, of course, an incredibly exciting one. And when the Blazers made it past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in ages, to play David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs, my dad and I made it to our first ever NBA playoff game. We heard the deafening cheers of the crowd and raised our voices to join them. We screamed in unison as Buck Williams dunked on Robinson maybe twenty feet away from us. And we laughed together in delirious joy as the seconds ticked away on a Blazer's victory.
My dad and I are very different people. We have different personalities, we like different things. Figuring out how to communicate with each other and how to just be father and son has never come easily to us. These days, it's not perfect, but it's a lot better. Without the Blazers, we would have had little in common at all, and might not have ever gotten to where we are now. And now I should stop writing this and call my dad to find out what he thought of the Andre Miller signing.