When I read the news of the Rose Garden changing its name, I - like many of you - felt a sting of loss. The feeling of loss was immediately followed by the supporting memories of all the events that have happened in that storied arena, and those events slowly and surely made me realize what I owed to the name that represented an era of my favorite sports team:
Not a damn thing.
The Rose Garden opened in 1995. Every Dairy-Queen-Glass-Wielding Blazers fan will tell you that Adelman and Drexler were gone by then, and the Whitsitt rebuild began. The good guys left, and the bad guys came. They won a bunch of games, got into a lot of trouble, and cared a famously small amount for their fans. I have never, before or since, disliked a winning-record home team as much as those Jailblazers.
There were good bits here and there, but Brian Grant and Sabas were bright spots in a dark era. We then lost their talent, along with most of the rest of our talent, and spent the next few seasons washing out the memories of our ungrateful would-be's with dollar store suckpaste. And you know what? We kind of preferred that for a while.
Next came the false hope. LMA, Roy, Webster, and Oden became LMA, nothing at all, shoulda-been-CP3, and shoulda-been-Durant. Despite what we'd like to think, the heartache of those players has so far produced nothing worthwhile. The products of losing Oden and Roy have been Nolan Smith and Meyers Leonard. Not Lillard. Even the worst-of-the-worst that happened before the Rose Garden got us a Buck Willams out of the deal.
Faried didn't happen, and we knew it would. We knew Felton was a bad idea, and we were right. And that just about catches us up to today. The last season in the Rose Garden gave us a preview of things to come - an exciting young team that could very much be a contender with the right pieces added. We may have very well added those pieces this summer, not the smallest of which is the one hopeful product of our recent mediocrity - a 4-year quality guard out of LeHigh, whose talent will be realized (or not) in the first years of the Moda Center.
All in all, the last time that we had a fan-supported, fan-supporting contender driving the rock in Coffeebeantown was when they played across the pavement in the smaller building. You, the fan, will be hard-pressed to find a time since then - in the Rose Garden - that has not been tainted with unrealized potential or over-realized character deficiencies. We now go into an old arena with a new name, with a team that has me more excited than any other since the Memorial Coliseum days.
And if you ask me, it's about time.