Dear Mr. Olshey,
As a long-time fan of the Trail Blazers, I welcome you to the Rose City. Enjoy our quirky little one major sport (sorry Timbers) town and all that it has to offer. You are the man, the captain in the chair, the king on the throne for the time being. You are the head mom of all the “soccer moms”, as Bill Simmons of ESPN endearingly calls us.
Now, please bring us some players who have, with apologies to the Rocky movie creators, the “Eye of the Tiger”. Please look into the eyes of Kevin Durant and Kevin Garnett, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan. They have it. It is that competitive fire, that competitive will to win. Brandon Roy had it, and if you go back a few years, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, Buck Williams, et al, had it.
That is what these Trail Blazers have been missing the most. Forget about centers, point guards, all that positional stuff, the biggest void in the Trail Blazers has been the leadership on the floor.
Please don’t get too caught up in “measurables”: height, vertical jumps, shooting strokes, all that analytical stuff. Give us leaders on the floor that would rather gouge their own eyes out than lose. Leadership can come in any size, at any position, at any age. Leadership cannot be taught, it must be come from within and it must be cultivated.
Leaders do not passive-aggressively try to get their coach fired. Leaders do not show up to training camp 20 lbs. overweight. Leaders do not chuck contested threes when their teammates are wide open to pad their own statistics or mope that their teammates are not passing them the ball enough. Leaders do not secretly want to become dentists.
Please don’t concern yourself too much with picking the right coach, what we really need are leaders ON THE FLOOR! This is a player-driven league anyway. If the leaders on the floor are happy with the new coach, I’ll be happy with the new coach.
Magic was not blessed with great leaping ability; Russell was not blessed with great height. But their leadership and will to win was second to none. So, as you’re going out and evaluating players, as I’m sure you are supremely qualified to do, first see if they can play. Then see if they are sprinting down the floor on D, see if they are practicing as hard as they play, see if they slam the ball down if their team loses a pickup game, see if they have that “Eye of the Tiger”. Those are the ones to build around.
Oh, and by the way, please also make sure they have two good knees.
Thank you for listening.