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Vive La Difference!

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The lull this week (1 game in 7 days!) marks a natural break-point in the season...a chance to catch our breath, assess what has gone on, and anticipate the future.  And as we do so something needs to be said that hasn't yet.  Not something about the Blazers this time, but to them.

Thank you.

The transformation this season has been everything a Portland fan could have hoped for and much, much more.  It's amazing how far we've come in a very short time.  

The scarlet and black of the Portland uniform had come to stand for a lot of strange things in the past decade.  We lived through the time of the hired guns, the "CTC" era where we enjoyed winning even when we couldn't feel that close to the team or its players.  We lived through the Jailblazer era where we became a public laughingstock, known more for what happened in the courtroom than on the court.  We weren't just lost, we were buried.  In the last year and a half we've enjoyed not just a renaissance of Portland basketball--with all of the artistic grace that implies--but also the full-on resurrection of the relationship between the team and its fans.  Wearing scarlet and black means something wonderful again.  It stands for unselfishness.  It stands for making your teammates better.  It stands for listening, learning, and adapting.  It stands for working hard at your craft.  It stands for not being satisfied with where you are.  It stands for keeping your eyes on where you're going without missing what's right in front of you.  It stands for winning without getting cocky.  It stands for losing without breaking apart.  It stands for meeting every challenge and not getting shoved around.  Most of all it stands for caring...caring about the game, the franchise, and excellence.

And that's just on the court.  This whole organization has been transformed off the court as well.  It's amazing how well these young players have connected with each other and with the community.  I don't just mean the pre-planned charity events that you see on TV.  We're starting to get story after story of people who have run into Blazers on the street and come away from the experience awed and smiling.  

It's not just the players either.  I'm hardly an "insider" but over the years I have had contact with people surrounding the team for various reasons.  From what I've seen it's night and day different than it used to be.  Everybody I talk to surrounding the team seems happy and proud to be a part of this organization now.  Most of them wear it out on their sleeves.  And believe me, they're doing things that you (and most of the time I) never hear about or see to make sure people know they care about the community, the people in it, and the team's image.

There's a genuine sense of excitement surrounding this team now.  The winning streak helps, but I don't think that's the source of it.  In fact I think people would be nearly as excited if we had 10 fewer wins.  It just wouldn't be as far out of the closet yet.  Almost everybody I know is stoked about the present and keenly anticipating the future.  We have been given permission and opportunity to be fans again.  That's all we wanted in the first place.  We didn't need perfection or instant results, just the chance to do what we do best:  love this team without fearing that the rug could be pulled out from under us at any given moment.

This passion was way too deep to remain buried for as long as it was.  Having it out in the open again (and spreading) is a fantastic thing.  And we need to take a moment to say congratulations and thank you to those who made it possible, which includes the players, the coaches, the organization, and the fan base itself.

Thank you for the beautiful basketball.

Thank you for the effort.

Thank you for the togetherness.

Thank you for the chances to cheer without being ashamed.

Thank you for the shivers down the spine and the stupid, sloppy grins when we think about the seasons to come.

Thank you for the culture.

Thank you for taking time to talk with us, for acting like you care about us, and for helping unite a great community.

Thank you for letting us be fans...no, BLAZER FANS!!!...again.

There's nothing better.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

P.S.  As always, feel free to add your own below.