Just when I thought I was out ...

they pull me back IN (snarling and clenching fists)!

Not that I would ever stop watching this team. But a number of life changes in the past year had me rethinking the level of time and passion I was willing to devote. A new little girl 6 weeks ago (in addition to our 2 year old). A semi-new job that requires lots of evening hours, and which comes with copious amounts of stress. Completing grad school, etc. Combine these life changes with the continued off-season let-downs of BRoy and Oden, and this seemed like a good time to take a step back. Financially, we were even forced to cancel DirecTV, which meant no League Pass, and even no TNT games. I was steeling myself to checking box scores and reading an occasional column.

Then they signed Crawford. What's this, a perfect combo guard for our system to come off the bench? Someone who can handle and stretch the floor to give LMA room to work? Someone who can still fill it up when the offense stalls? Something this team has lacked for years. (BRoy WAS the offense in years past, and when they stopped him who else stepped up? Usually nobody.)

Then they signed Kurt Thomas. What's this, a grizzled (is there anyone in the league more grizzled than this guy?) veteran who made a name for himself playing tough-nosed, defensive-minded basketball for some of the best coaches (Riley in Miami, Van Gundy in NY, and Popovich in SA) and alongside some of the best players (Mourning, Houston, Duncan, Nash, etc.) in some of the best playoff series of all time. You mean he too can hit a 15 foot jump shot to give LMA room to work? You mean he's actually played in the Finals? (Or, you mean he's actually played in a 2nd round series?!!!)

Hmmm. Well, maybe this team is worth paying attention to afterall. They're making kind of sneaky-good moves for sneaky-good players that actually fill direct needs that we have right now. In fact, I'm not sure there are too many holes left on our team outside of some deep bench support. But I don't want to get my hopes up too soon just to have them dashed again like in years past.

Oh, you mean they won their first couple games in convincing fashion? Well, Philly and Sacramento aren't that good. That's to be expected right?

Oh, you mean they handily beat the Nuggets, who seem to be the League pundit darlings this year for some reason, after doing nearly everything wrong with the ball they could possible think of?

Oh, you mean they just destroyed two of the best couple of Western teams over the past couple of years?

Oh, you mean Charles Barkley ... CHARLES BARKLEY just said it's hard to see anyone taking 4 of 7 from us in a series?

OK. I'll bite. I guess I can watch a few games. (Thankfully, illegal streams are easy enough to find these days without the help of Blazers Edge users.)

I'll admit ... It's hard to contain my excitement for this team. But it's not just the wins. It's the players and their style of play. It's the fact that this group of individuals has never won anything, and collectively appears hungry. It's how they spur each other on. It's the new brand of basketball we haven't seen around here probably since Drexler's teams. It ... is ... EXCITING!!!

Yes, I'm sure we'll lose some games we should win in the near future. We won't go 65-1. But playing like this, we will be in every game this season, and hopefully in the playoffs. These shortened seasons are weird. It's more possible for someone to catch lightning in a bottle than it usually is. And that might be just what is happening.

Don't look now Portland: After all the pain and heartache and weighty expectations, you finally have something to root for. Have fun watching. I know I will.

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