James wrote a letter yesterday reflecting on the Brandon Roy/NBA Championship post below. You can take this post's title in two ways, reflecting either the subject matter or the quality of the feedback. He writes:
Hey I want the Blazers to win a championship, but it's the little things like all-star games, memorable stats, those kinds of things that make every day worth it as a fan...
I believe in substance over style, but I don't believe in substance over style for it's own sake. If you can have both, that's preferable, if you can only have one lets have substance. But let's not forget this is all suppose to be fun. Roy having a great game at the sophmore/rookie game, it would've been great. He didn't, so that's fine. But let's not disparage it altogether.
To be honest I find all the "Us Against the World" stuff a little disheartening. Do I think Portland doesen't get a fair shake sometimes? I do but not as much as some people seem too. We're not getting attention primarily because we're in Portland, it's because we've never had a sexy, hollywoodesque team. We haven't had a really marketable star since Clyde and that's the managements fault, not the rest of the world's. We've had good players but for whatever reason the team has never gotten a real media darling/shining star.
If we had an exciting, winning team filled with stars it wouldn't matter if Portland was located in the dark side of Pluto.
There we go. Don't let it be said that I don't practice what I preach when it comes to honoring and respecting people you disagree with! (And part of the purpose of the post is so you can chime in one way or the other too.)
I can understand James' points, and maybe my whole All-Star attitude is a sign that I'm getting too old and cynical, but even with that empathy for his position I just can't bring myself to hop on board with all this.
The All-Star weekend is about glitz, glamor, and public opinion, as James suggests more style over substance. I understand that. I understand there's a place for that. But I also understand that we're never, ever going to get very far in that venue.
I learned this definitively a few years ago when it was my habit to consume as much Sports Talk Radio as I could lay my ears on. At that time we only got national feeds where I was, so I heard tons of ESPN Radio, Sporting News Radio, and the like. I remember clearly the discussion surrounding the NCAA tournament one year when there had been a fair amount of upsets, including Duke and some other "name" teams. The nationally prominent talk show host said, "I just can't get into this bracket anymore...all the best teams are gone." It became clear to me that it didn't matter what the other teams did, the already-famous schools were the "best" even when they got beaten fair and square on the court. The role of the "lesser" teams is to fill the schedule, occasionally provide a nice Cinderella angle, but then to know when to get out of the way so we can all have the big-time matchups everybody wants to see.
These were the same years that the Lakers were winning three in a row and when it came to the NBA all I heard show after show was how good the Lakers were doing and how strong the Lakers were and whether the Lakers were one of the best teams of all time. Finally one year they lost, and I tuned in that night relieved to hear something different for a change. What was the topic? "What do the Lakers have to do to win again?" Their opponent was barely metioned outside of the score recap.
THAT is what the court of public opinion says. And that tune is not going to change. How much pub have the Spurs gotten for being one of the best teams of the decade...no, clearly THE best team of the decade? And before you pull the "Tim Duncan's boring" card out, would that be the public perception if he played in New York? And what about Parker and Ginobili? Aren't they flashy?
Maybe I am too cynical, but I'm just not sure why, as a Portland fan, I should stress over credit I'm not going to receive or want people to ooh and aah over me when I not they're not going to. It's kind of like the guy in high school who tries to be a doormat in order to go out with the cheerleader when everybody else knows darn good and well that she's only ever going to date the jock (who in this case wears purple and gold).
I think many of our stars will turn out to be marketable in their own right, but I have deep reservations about whether they will get marketed. We'll never have a Hollywood team, not because we can't find the talent or play that style, but because we're not Hollywood. But how much does, or should, that matter? That's the question, I suppose.
I left James' best sentence out of the quote above. It not only encapsulates his point nicely it's one of the better sentences/references I've seen in an e-mail. He says:
Ah...that's good stuff. And it's made even better because James pegged me exactly.
I believe firmly that the S.S. Blazer is big enough for all of us and we're all here for different reasons and enjoy different aspects of it and that's what makes this cruise interesting. But as for me, you can call me Ishmael baby...cuz I'm gonna be leaning over the bow with the spyglass and the harpoon until we get that sucker.
Maybe every once in a while somebody can bring me up one of those little umbrella drinks from the Lido Deck?