This is not the introduction to some lame joke.
Rather, I had the opportunity to visit the southwest at a business conference and, later in the evening, ended up sitting in a hot tub sharing a few drinks with three guys from Utah who were all Jazz fans. We started talking basketball. I always find it interesting to hear what other folks say about the Blazers and thought I'd share:
* Utah hates Portland. Most recently, they hated the fact that they tried to take Milsap (they've very bitter about that) and are really pissed off that we "stole" Matthews. It's amazing to see--even after 2 years with Portland--how much these Jazz fans loved, loved, loved Matthews. Definite cult hero.
* I heaped some respect on Sloan. While they agreed that Sloan was a great coach and also agreed that he got driven out unfairly by a point guard that the Jazz weren't keeping anyway, they all felt that it was "just time." It felt a lot like the general bell-curve opinion on McMillan. (They also said the new coach had exactly one season.)
* "Aren't the Blazers having like the worst season ever?" They kept asking that.
* They didn't really know who LaMarcus Aldridge was.
* They dimly knew Roy retired but knew profoundly and immediately that Oden was a total bust. They were kind of sympathetic that way. But they didn't really tie the two events together in our "Black Friday."
* On the Oden is bust, there was a lot of, "You guys suck in the draft," commentary. But it was because we passed up "Michael Jordan to take Drexler" (I quietly corrected that to Sam Bouie but, of course, they're kind of accidentally correct) and then took Oden. That was it. I didn't even need to point out we also passed on Faried, Chris Paul, and Deron Williams.
* Their hatred of the Drexler-led Blazers was as virulent as our hatred for the Lakers. But it also means that the Portland games always have a little extra oomph in them, even when the talent disparity is stark.
* They thought Ostertag was an idiot. Apparently he likes to buy Humvees and crash them. I kind of liked Ostertag... he was sort of a primordial Przybilla.
* Their awe of Kevin Johnson (Phoenix) is as great as their awe of Drexler.
* David Stern is awful (guess that's not peculiar to Utah).
That's what I can remember in between the vodka. But it was fun to talk to those guys because they're passionate about the Jazz just like we are about the Blazers. So it's interesting to hear their perspective on Portland.