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It's the last day of the off-season.  Capricorn fifteens, time for renewal.

(Big props to you if you got the reference.)

Seriously, is there any better day of the year? (Save only the first day of the playoffs if the Blazers are participating.  That's way better but it hasn't happened in a while.)  When you're a kid you get a lot of days that bring about that silly joy and excitement.  But as you grow older most of those days either acquire deeper meaning so as to transcend the thrill (like Christmas) or lose their thrill altogether (hello, birthday).  But this...this is IT.  This is as close as we get to being a kid all over again.  The day we've anticipated and talked about for months is almost here.  Every single year at this time I get tingly all over.  There is nothing quite like it.

To be clear, it has little to do with everybody starting equal or anticipation of winning.  We're not equal, no matter what the standings say.  Nearly every team in the conference already has a jump on us in talent, in health, and especially in experience.  Winning one game in three would be a better season than I expect.  But who cares?  We're playing basketball here, folks.  Blazer basketball.  Are there any two sweeter words in the language (that can be repeated in a family blog anyway)?  If there are, I have yet to find them.  We get to have 82 games of ups, downs, rejoicing, worrying, sweating, pacing, analyzing, debating, and rooting with all of our crimson and black beating hearts.

I am anticipating this year even more than most as it will be the first season I'll spend in conversation with all of you.  I've been talking and writing about Blazer basketball for years in different circles, but never with this many co-conspirators.  Hey, if you've got an incurable addiction that's likely to bring you just as much misery as joy (in the short term anyway), what's better than sharing it with a thousand or so of your similarly-addicted friends?

Odds are that twenty games into the season we'll be talking about whether our 15th man would make a viable starter because the regular guys just aren't able to put out like we hoped.  Odds are by the all-star break we'll have forgotten what the Game 1 pregame excitement felt like.  Odds are that by Game 82 we'll be relieved that the off-season will give us a chance to recycle, cleanse, and DRAFT.  That all goes with the territory.  But we'll be here, and between us we'll have left a several-hundred-thousand word trail in our wake to prove that we were here.  And someday that will have been more than worth it, win or lose.  Because someday, my friends--someday before we all shuffle off into the great beyond--the Blazers are going to hit the right combination of personnel, talent, and timing and they are going to take it all...the...way...again.  Won't be this year, might not even be this decade, but it's going to happen.  And when it does the joy of that moment will be multiplied exponentially as it reverberates through the deep, long canyons carved by seasons like this, back along the trails we forge right now.  And it will be echoed in hundreds and thousands of voices of people who have believed and held on and posted on sites just like this one through all the years.  And boy won't this be the place to be then?  I shudder to think of the 200 comment posts, every one of them all in caps.  That's what we're working for, that's what the team is working for, that's the foundation that starts now, on this opening day.  

May we all enjoy the ride together.  Happy Season's Eve to all!  Go Blazers!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S.  If you haven't checked out Quick's and Tokito's season preview on Oregonlive you're in for some fun.  It's very positive and very extensive and should get you pumped up about some of the youngins.  Enjoy (and stop complaining about how those guys never say anything nice)!

P.P.S.  The Blazers are now offering 25-game packages at $99 on their site.  If you don't already have tickets, go buy them now.  That's 25 games for the price of a cheap hotel and a moderate dinner.  Never thought I'd see that in my lifetime.

--Dave