THIS IS AN ALARM! DO NOT HIT SNOOZE! DO NOT UNPLUG THE CLOCK RADIO (besides, it's got battery backup)!
Inspired by BlazersFanSince1970's strikingly similar post, I'd like to offer some things that have been on my mind, as a guy who is excited for the Beavers top-10 ranking, but doesn't particularly care for football; who is peripherally following what's happening in baseball, but who, at heart, is a pure basketball fan, and who can't WAIT for this season to start!
I, for one, and optimistic! For the first time since 2008, I'm feeling like there are legitimate reasons to be excited about the long-term prospects of the team, and I'm not either waiting for someone to get healthy, or praying that they don't get hurt. What, specifically, am I looking forward to?
- Damian. Freaking. Lillard. I plunked down $5 to catch the summer league games. I was on vacation at the time, and while my girlfriend slept comatose from sunburn and dehydration, I was up at 1am EST watching this guy manipulate the court like a politician working a crowd. A little pro-America rhetoric, a little opponent-bashing, and BOOM. Landslide victory. Unfunny comparison aside, watching him play was like watching a veteran. A 23-year-old with veteran's patience and the athleticism of a racehorse? Sign me up. And he can shoot. And pass. Can't wait to see him play, learn, get better, and get us a championship in year one.
- Leonard Meyers. NO, wait, Meyers Leonard. Drinking game: down one for each time Mike Rice mixes up his first and last name. Hopefully a few games in he'll pick one or the other and call it a day. But a legit 7-footer who moves with the flexibility of a politician? ...okay, that doesn't work (unless you're Mitt Romney, AMIRITE?) But he's the opposite of a stiff, has a solid, if not imposing upper body and decent hops, has the makings of a jumpshot, can shoot free throws, can sort of pass, and is obviously mature, articulate, and YOUNG. How good does it feel to have a 20-year-old center who looks his age rather than like an old paper sack? Pretty good! Apologies to Greg Oden, but I am stoked to see Leonard skip around with fluidity rather than gallumph along like a giraffe.
- New culture! Bye Nate! Bye Larry! Bye Kevin/Rich/Chad! Bye Paul... wait, no, not yet, and (contrary to what some say) hopefully not ever. But we have a totally new power dynamic in Portland, or as new as it can be with the same owner who is as involved as ever. But really, I think this makes a huge difference. You can actually feel the way the pieces fit: Neil reports to Paul about basketball matters, and the new president will report to him about financial matters. That would be nice. Is it too much to ask for that money matters be separate from basketball matters? Yeah, it's a business, I get it, but I much prefer a separate power structure than having your GM eyeballed furiously by both and owner AND a president more strongly than a politician eyeing SuperPAC donations.
- Optimism! Might we suck this year? Yessir, we may. We may even REALLY suck. Call me a pinkbell, but I really appreciate being able to watch a basketball game and watch for things (chemistry developing, talent improving) that aren't strictly connected with wins and losses. I know, I know: "moral victories" are going to get old real quick, even for me. But watching Damian get better, Meyers get tougher, and LA learning to play with both is a lot better than cringing every time Brandon crosses up, or every time Greg jumps in the air, hoping they won't pull up lamer than a politician's stump speech.
- Batum. Oh, boom-boom! From sack shots to corner threes to chasedown blocks, what's not to love? Beside months of contract negotiations, that is. But he's here, he's freer (to play the way he wants to play since he's a big-contract guy), and we probably won't have a hard time getting used to it if he improves a little. While I'm wary that even a new coach and a new team with a renewed focus on our huggable French export will drastically improve his stats, I am looking forward to him finally finding a little bit of whatever compelled him to junk-slap that guy in the Olympics and bringing it with him every game. I mean, can you imagine Batum with a 15% increase of nastiness? It woud be more refreshing than a politician's sweet, soothing campaign lies. Maybe with a point guard who is a legit threat and can spread the floor, and all of the things mentioned before, Batum can take a relatively shallow team and step up in a way that might make the Blazers THAT much more interesting as a destination for free agents (from "not-at-all" to "almost"), or win them an extra game or two. Oh, and he's been in the league for years but he's still 12 years old. That's a plus.
I love this site so much. I really do. But it sucks without participation, so... write! Write! WRITE!