In case you haven't heard the latest on Brandon Roy, you can read all about it in our diary section or by checking Oregonlive. In a nutshell his ankle felt funny yesterday, they pulled him from practice, they did an MRI as a precautionary measure, and it came up negative on the ankle but positive for an irritation of the same heel bone that caused Roy trouble last year. He's day-to-day and the Blazers are basically saying, "No biggie." I think we as fans are hyper-sensitized by the recent Oden events and are taking it a little harder than necessary, but what do I know?
Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about. I don't know if anybody has been watching the Ken Burns movie on PBS about the Second World War. I've been catching bits and pieces of it. It's hard for me to devote enough time to watch entire swaths and frankly I can only handle so much intense human experience in my off-hours. But what I have seen has been very good. It has made me think. We get all serious about the team and Oden and our prospects and all of that, but when you see something like a documentary on how The War affected people there's only so serious you can get. You remember once again to thank the heavens we have the freedom to be all seriously wrapped up in something like sports. Also seeing what that generation went through brings you up short: the kids who fought, died, got wounded, were shelled, had to kill people, saw atrocities on a scale that hasn't been seen since, all before they hit 20...the families who saw black cars pull up to announce that someone they loved was never coming home...the years of heartache and constant worry...the people interred in prison camps abroad and "refugee" camps at home...the folks who agonized over the bomb, who dropped the bomb, and who had their lives obliterated by the bomb...it boggles the mind. And this isn't ancient history. This was our grandparents, aunts, and uncles (for some "greats"...for some parents...give or take). Compared to that, what do we have to go through as sports fans? We call it tough, but it's "pretend" tough. It's the kind of tough that's enjoyable to have because you know it means you don't have real tough and are free to call this tough. (Not that we haven't been through anything really tough. I'm sure many of us have. But this Blazer stuff isn't it.)
Even with Oden out a year, even if Brandon has to have some corrective surgery, this is all a piece of cake. I mean, really folks, the future of this team isn't good...it's GREAT. We're going to be fantastic, amazing, unforgettable. This is going to be one of the groups of players you tell your grandchildren about. Even if due to injuries we have to go through another year where wins are doled out like they were on ration coupons, so be it. It's not like we haven't had to do that before. We still managed to make it through and still be in love with the team and the game. And it's not like we're facing four years of war against powers that threaten to overwhelm the world. It's just more of the stinkin' L*kers and Suns, that's all.
Another thing that struck me is the remarkable lack of angst I feel about the team's ability to weather these short-term storms and prosper. I think this is directly correlated to my trust in the current management group. I work with kids and youth a fair amount in my job and one of the basic messages I try to instill is this: You'll be fine as long as you don't go around risking long-term consequences on the basis of short-term circumstances. Bad things happen to everybody and, truth be told, everybody messes up a little bit. But the mess-ups you want to avoid are the ones that stick you with consequences at 42 for decisions you made at 16. Your feelings and needs are very real at 16 but some gambles just aren't worth it.
That's exactly the situation the Blazers are in now. We're very young with one heck of a future ahead of us. We're also entering this season on shaky ground compared to where we thought we'd be. The worst thing we could do would be to make decisions in reaction to this year that cost us when it really matters. Granted the team's situation was different in past years but I also got the sense that we had guys at the helm that were invested in making themselves look good in the short term even if that was at the expense of real growth. I don't get that sense one bit from this group. It feels like they know exactly what we have, exactly where we're headed, and just aren't willing to do anything that would jeopardize what's really important. The confidence is palpable. In other words even though we're young in terms of player age and front office experience, it finally feels like we have grown-ups running the team, or at least people who know how to make grown-up decisions. Come what may this year I think we're going to be better for it in the long run.
That's my two cents anyway. Now back to your regularly-schedule training camp reports.