Kerry Eggers, in his Fair Game Column marks the end of an era as Steve Jones and the Trailblazers officially parted ways at the end of the calendar year. He laments that the occasion was not marked in any way after Steve's distinguished service and the place he holds in many fans' hearts (including a very strong one in mine, by the way). I understand why the team might fear a repeat of the Bill Schonely fallout, but I agree with Eggers. And really, aren't they going to get more fallout not acknowledging it? (Case in point right here...)
Eggers references the aversion of the Blazer brass to the honest criticism Steve employed on-air over the years. Again I understand why that made them nervous in a time when it seemed everyone was criticizing, but they directed their misapprehension towards the wrong guy. Steve Jones wasn't saying anything that everyone else didn't see. I don't recall the complaining subsiding when the announcers became more like cheerleaders. In fact it intensified because people felt that nobody in the organization heard or understood what they were thinking. The attempt to cover up the team's on-court deficiencies with facile explanations from the broadcast crew is one of those examples of assuming fans are sheep that I was talking about the other day.
One of the constants surrounding Blazer management in the last few years has been their sensitivity to criticism. Apparently that has already cost them one of the best color analysts in the business...a guy who brought a sense of professionalism, honesty, and charisma that was once the hallmark of what was then widely considered the best broadcast entity in the business. It would be a shame if it also cost them a chance to acknowledge his contributions upon his leaving. Mike Barrett worked with the guy when he started out. At the very least I'd expect some kind of acknowledgement column from him in his blog as sort of an "underground tribute" thing. That's insufficient, of course, but at least it would be something. Hearing only silence upon his departure seems insensitive not only to Steve, but to the fans who loved and appreciated him.