In the comments to last night's Wizards game, the esteemed two4larue brought up a comparison to the 1979-83 era Blazers, and David Halberstam's classic book The Breaks Of The Game, which describes in sometimes painful but always compelling detail, that time in team history.
It indeed seemed like there were parts of that book that could be used just as well to describe the mood that's around the Blazers now. An avalanche of injuries. Coaches and star players questioned by fans. Dashed expectations of a dynasty and tense atmospheres around losing streaks. So okay kids, it's time to play "guess the season!" Quotes with names removed after the jump.
For the team, the news was worse and worse. The one thing that [Blazer coach] had hoped for, the late-season return of [Blazer center], was now out of the question. Toward the end of November, [Blazer doctor] had taken [Blazer center] to be examined by Swiss specialists who had pioneered the operation he had undergone. The specialists reported that [Blazer center] was making very good progress, that the operation was a success and that when he returned to play he would have lost none of his exceptional speed. But they warned against his trying to come back too soon and putting too much strain on a leg that was possibly not fully healed. He was now almost surely out for the season ....
Too close for comfort? Let's try:
Three nights later they played in Chicago. [Important Blazer Player's] knees were hurting more and more. The right knee had gotten worse game by game and now the left was beginning to hurt. It was all right when the knees were warmed up but the pain after the game, as they cooled down, was becoming more than he could handle. It was also affecting his game. In the Indiana game he could not jump and when he ran down the court his knees were always in pain when he reached the other end ... he was losing increments of flex every day ... That meant he was a standup basketball player.
Or, even ...
For suddenly the team went into a slump. A few defeats became, as they can in basketball, a psychological state. A slump was particularly dangerous to this team; for it was without a true core of its own, and without either a defined personality or great talent. On its best nights a lineup hastily patched together of overachievers could wear down more gifted athletes. Now, with injuries, there was less and less relief for most of the players, fewer options for the coach; under the pressure of defeat, there was a greater danger of the Portland players playing not so much strong as tight.
(Some quotes slightly truncated)
This isn't to say that things are so dark now for the Blazers as they were in those years. But sometimes looking back can lend some perspective or even a little fan-misery catharsis.
I've been a reader since the days of Dave's old blog, and sometime amateur-grade commenter here, but this is my first fanpost. And I hate to finally contribute one at such a depressing time! But for those fans who still haven't read it, this book may end up as required summer reading for those trying to make sense of a season going wrong. But it may also remind you that things aren't so bad and this team has seen much worse.