Personally, the 08-09 Blazers season is one of the most memorable and special to me, and there's a couple of reasons for that. One, it was the only season where I literally watched every single minute of Blazers basketball. Since then, due to the fact that I've been covering the UFC, I haven't been able to watch as much Blazers basketball as I would like to. On top of that, I'm about to start my new job covering the Memphis Grizzlies, so I'm going to have to suffer for the rest of the season watching Memphis games and being in-tune with the organization, meanwhile my favorite team in professional sports is one of the west's elite.
Secondly, during the 08-09 season I was having some serious personal issues, so one of the few things I could find solace in was watching the Trail Blazers. It was very easy to find happiness while watching the Blazers that season, as they had who I considered to be the second best shooting guard in the league in Brandon Roy. Yes, that means I'm saying he was better than Dwyane Wade but not better than Kobe. If you disagree, that's fine, so did most of my friends.
What I'm going to be doing here is going over the most memorable moments of the 08-09 season, from beginning to end. There will be some stuff that I look up, like dates of certain games, however I'm going to attempt to recall most of the greatest moments of that season just from memory, so if I miss something or get something wrong, don't ridicule me for it.
With all of that in mind, here we go!
Early October: Martell Webster Suffers a Severe Foot Injury - At the time I remember everyone acted like this was a major blow to the Trail Blazers, as Webster was expected to be the Blazers starting small forward. Before the season many people had predicted that it would be Webster's breakout year. Due to Webster's injury, Travis Outlaw was named the starting small forward.
October 28th, 2008: Greg Oden's NBA Debut - As all of you know, Greg Oden was the most hyped Blazer draft pick in the history of the franchise. After having to wait a year for his debut, we were finally going to get to see him in a high profile game on TNT against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Early in the game I believe Oden blocked one of Andrew Bynum's shots impressively. That got me fired up. Unfortunately my enthusiasm didn't last long as he hurt his ankle in the first half and did not return. He would be out for several weeks as a result, and the Blazers got destroyed by the Lakers on opening night. This obviously was not one of the games that brought a smile to my face.
November 5th, 2008: Nicolas Batum is Named the Starting Small Forward - This wasn't a significant moment at the time as I'm sure Blazer fans were just looking at Nic as a filler until Martell came back. Even though it wasn't significant at the time, it lead to something significant as Nic has pretty much kept the starting role ever since.
Side note - the Blazers lost that night to the Utah Jazz, who at that time were actually pretty good if you can believe that.
November 6th, 2008: Brandon Roy's Game Winner - On the second night of a back to back, which I'm only saying that because the Blazers commentators love to make a big deal out of that, so I feel like I should too, Brandon Roy hit the greatest shot in the history of the franchise.
After Yao was fouled and converted on the the 3-point play, like many Blazer fans, I thought it was over. Thankfully, I was wrong, and when B-Roy tossed up that shot and it went it, I screamed as loud as I could in excitement. I'm a pretty mellow guy, so it takes a lot to get me to do that. That Roy game winner was indeed enough to get me to jump up and scream like a dope.
Near the end of the season I remember talking to one of my friends about how Brandon Roy was the most clutch player in the league. Of course I was being bias. My friend's response to me was "he's not even that clutch, he's only made like one game winner". Of course Blazer fans know better than that, however, most of B-Roy's clutch moments didn't get the same love as his Rockets buzzer beater did.
November 12th, 2008: The Return of Greg Oden - A little over two weeks after Oden injured himself in his NBA debut he made his return to the court against the Miami Heat. Oden was not the starter, as Joel Pryzbilla had taken over the starting role at that point. Oden and Pryzbilla would flip flop as the starting center of the team a couple more times during the remainder of the season.
Oden's performance was relatively unmemorable, but he was able to not get hurt, which is always a plus when you're talking about Greg Oden. He finished the game with 3 points and a pair of blocks.
November 18th, 2008: He's Arrived - After the year of injury frustration and after struggling so far in the regular season, Greg Oden destroyed the Golden State Warriors.
Oden would come off the bench and have his very first 20 and 10 game. He showed what he was capable of, and even thought his dominating performance didn't lead to a Blazer victory, there still was something to celebrate.
December 7th, 2008: Hello Martell, Goodbye Martell - This one will be short and not so sweet, as there's not much to remember about this moment.
It was announced that Martell would be making his return and would be coming off the bench. He stepped onto the court, took one shot, played less than five minutes, hurt his foot again, and was done for the rest of the season.
December 18th, 2008: Brandon Roy, Unstoppable - It was arguably the most memorable Brandon Roy performance. The only other one that comes close is game 4 against Dallas in the 2011 playoffs.
Brandon went off, scoring 52 points. It was a big game, on a big stage, against one of the best teams in the western conference in the Phoenix suns. B-Roy delivered a head-shaking performance as he decimated the Phoenix Suns.
December 30th, 2008: No Roy, No Problem - The defending champs, the Boston Celtics were coming to town. With Brandon Roy injured, it was somewhat far-fetched that the Blazers would be able to beat the Celtics.
I remember watching the game and hating Kevin Garnett more and more as it went on. Ray Allen was annoying me as well. When the Blazers were able to pull off the victory and I saw the angry Celtics storm off the court, I couldn't have been more happy.
Note - I don't recall anything particularly memorable happening in the month of January, so that's why it's skipped.
February 15th, 2009: Roy's 2nd All-Star Game - I could be wrong, but I remember this as being the year where Brandon missed that alley oop dunk off the backboard. That was the most disappointing thing about the entire game.
B-Roy had a quiet 14 points, 5 assists, and 5 rebounds. When I saw the box score at the end of the game, I was surprised that those were his totals, as I thought he maybe had 6 points. But then again, I don't really pay full attention to the all-star game when it's on.
February 22nd, 2009: We've Got a Point Guard! Well, At Least For One Quarter - Steve Blake tied an NBA record for assists in a quarter with 14, I believe. It was weird that Blake did that on that day, because earlier in the day I was thinking about how crazy the 30 assists in a game record was.
After the first quarter I thought Blake was going to break the record. Unfortunately, Blake returned to his usual self and ended up with 17 assists. I was bummed out, but the Blazers won, so that's really all that matters.
March 9th, 2009: The Lakers Come To Portland - This game was memorable because of the atmosphere in the Rose Garden. It's one of those games that I wished I could have been there in person.
Portland handled the Lakers, and the crowd went nuts, as usual. One of the highlights of the game for me was when some passed Kobe the ball, he couldn't handle the pass, the ball went out of bounds, and the crowd just screamed "Ahhhhhh" while Kobe rolled his eyes. It's hard to give you the complete picture through text, but I thought it was hilarious.
On a side note, I think this may have been the game were Trevor Ariza drilled Rudy on the fast break, and Rudy took an ugly spill. Rudy was fine, though, and the Blazers won by double digits.
March 26th, 2009: The Roy, Aldridge, and Rudy Show! - Brandon and LaMarcus led the Blazers in scoring, as usual. But Rudy Fernandez came up big off the bench and ended the game with 23 points, hitting 5 threes. Boy, those were the days huh? Remember when Rudy was actually a shooter who could shoot? Instead of a shooter who couldn't shoot.
Before the end of the first half, Rudy hit back to back buckets in like 5 seconds or something like that. I reacted at home the same way the Blazer crowd did.
April 2009: We Want the Rockets in the First Round! - Not a whole lot to say about this. But I remember everyone was saying that that was the match-up that would favor the Blazers. Boy, those people were wrong, huh?
End of the Regular Season, 54-28, Northwest Division Champs, Homecourt in the First Round!
April 18th, 2009: These Refs Suck! - This game was memorable for several reasons which is unfortunate because it's one I'd like to forget.
Like most of the Blazer fans, I was so excited to see the Blazers back in the playoffs that I wanted to bite something. I was counting down the hours and minutes until game time. The day seemed to be going by so slow.
Long story short, the Blazers got killed. Brandon Roy was the only player who did anything. He and Greg Oden of all people were the only ones in double figures. LaMarcus got bullied, and the rest of the Blazers were terrified.
While the Blazers were getting blown out in the 4th quarter, what was left of the Rose Garden crowd broke out in a chant, as all of them screamed in unison "THESE REFS SUCK!". It's extremely rare that I'll blame the refs for a loss, and you can't completely blame the refs for your team losing by 20+ points, however, the refs that night did indeed suck.
April 21st, 2009: He's the Best Player I've Played Against - Before game 2, Ron Artest did an interview with TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager. In the interview Artest said that Brandon Roy was the best player he'd ever played against. Sager seemed to scoff at that and ask Artest if he was sure it wasn't LeBron or Kobe. Artest reiterated that it was Roy.
Side Note - While it's still on my mind, Kobe Bryant said the same thing the following season in a phoner to some national radio program, I can't remember which. Like Sager, the host was baffled and asked him if he was sure it wasn't Durant or LeBron. Like Artest, Bryant was sure of his statement. But the hosts reaction infuriated me.
Roy backed up Artest's words by scoring 42 points. LaMarcus added 27 and 12. The Blazers won. This was also the game where Greg Oden caused Dikembe Mutombo to tear his ACL, ending his career. So, if you believe in karma, there you go.
April 30th, 2009: See You Next Year - There's nothing memorable about the game that took place on that day. Just that the Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs.
When the season was over, I was a bit disappointed, but I had the next season to look forward to. Unfortunately the next season was the start of the injury bug, as Roy and Oden were out of the league soon thereafter.
Post Season Notes - Brandon Roy was an MVP candidate. He had no shot at winning, though.
Remember when Travis Outlaw was good? He was a legitimate 6th man of the year candidate that year, and should have won it.
Mr. Disappointment Rudy Fernandez set the single season record for three pointers made by a rookie with 159. That record has since been broken by our own Damian Lillard who turned out to actually be good, unlike Rudy.
Greg Oden was relatively healthy, and played 61 games. He was an out of shape foul machine though. The next year was when he showed what he could really do before he broke his knee. I hope he's productive in Miami.
LaMarcus Aldridge was thought of as an underachiever. To me, watching Aldridge grow has been the best thing about the Blazers over the last couple of years.
Nicolas Batum will be Scottie Pippen. Well, that's what Rice and Barrett said. He hasn't quite turned into Scottie, but he's a very good all around player.
In closing, the 08-09 Trail Blazers will always have a special place in my heart. That may have been, and may always will be my favorite Trail Blazers season. That may change this year, but for now, nothing has topped 08-09.