Wunderkind Joe Freeman has another fine article this morning about the Blazers and Oden. Among the main themes are:
- They're shooting for a championship.
- They're preaching patience and not to judge things on 10 months of work but the next 10 years.
- Nate McMillan was a huge proponent of getting Oden.
Doug Binder also has a nice article about the rally downtown. His work brought to mind another recurrent theme around here: Blazermania was never dead, it was just hiding. I mean, technically we haven't done anything yet besides watch some ping-pong balls bounce and call a name. (Yes, last season was nice but it still had its off-court issues and it wasn't a winning campaign. I'm not denying it was progress but it was not what you'd call a great achievement on its own merits.) But look at the response! 6,000 people at the Rose Garden draft party...a jammed courthouse square downtown in the rain...kids painting their chests...signs everywhere...conversation out the wazoo. This is like old times. But this was not created in the last couple of days or even the last month, nor is it solely a response to circumstances. The circumstances, combined with the trust the team's management and stars have earned recently, have allowed something that was buried inside all of us to come out into the open.
To me this is a critical distinction, especially from the team's point of view. The worst thing that could happen is that they think Blazermania came about because of an ad slogan or a winning streak or even ping pong balls. That's exactly what got us in trouble last time, at least with the relationship between management and the fans. They thought they did it, or at least could summon it with the right formula, and they got out of touch. Blazermania is not about commercials or winning at all costs. Heck, it's not really even about the Blazers. It's about all of us together. It's about Greg Oden riding in a Max train instead of a limo. It's about Kevin Pritchard talking to us like we're real people. It's about watching guys like Brandon Roy do wonderful, talent-filled, and occasionally unselfish things on the court. People didn't jam that square yesterday because of a commercial, because they wanted to see a celebrity, or because they thought we'd win 50 games this year. They came because they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves and be happy about it. If the Blazers maintain a reasonable level of trust, honesty, humility, and unselfishness along with their talent they're going to find that we've gone right back to the old days in this town where they didn't have to advertise because every time they opened the doors people swarmed to be a part of the story.
The old days never really left. Most all Portlanders have Blazermania in their hearts. It just seemed for a while like the team either didn't have a clue or wasn't really interested in being a part of it.
I'm glad they're back.