Dave asked me to write about the fan's experience. There was a stadium full of fans tonight.
There was Jerry Sloan: He of the Hall Of Fame credentials and decades of experience. He looked at the stat sheet post-game and said flatly, "I don't think I've ever seen someone get open that many times in a game." He looked at the note at the bottom, "Martell Webster Career High," and just shook his head. Jerry Sloan was a fan tonight...a fan, even in defeat, of the Blazers offensive explosion, of their shut-down defensive run, of their fortitude in playing without their team leader for most of the game.
There was Brandon Roy: He of the injured tailbone and ginger step. He threw on the black warm-up shirt during the second half, seated amidst his teammates who were all dressed in white. He seemed out of place, far from his usual spot at the helm of the offense, at the top of the key. Brandon Roy was a fan tonight...a fan of his teammates - a fan of Martell catching fire, a fan of LaMarcus dominating Boozer, a fan of Travis doing what Travis does.
There was Mike Barrett: He of the ultra-professional demeanor and perfectly kempt appearance. He threw his arm around Sergio Rodriguez in the locker room like a proud dad, after Sergio created pure electricity on both ends of the floor. Mike Barrett was a fan tonight...a fan of youth developing into exhilaration.
There was the man of the hour, Martell Webster: He of the bananas-crazy 3 point shooting and pinwheel passing. After the game, the cameras were on him. He was at a loss for words, trying to process what had just happened. He had just done things he has spent years dreaming of doing. Martell Webster was a fan tonight...a fan of his team and the night's circumstances pushing him to greatness.
There was yours truly and 19,000 others in attendance and thousands more across the globe. I was a fan tonight. I know you were too.
Up Close and Personal:
Was there pre-game interest in Brandon's health? This was taken more than an hour before tip. For his part, Brandon seems to be taking the super-duper-star treatment from the media in stride.
Brandon the Warrior. As up close and personal as I could get!
Basketball legend. They don't make them like they used to, as they say.
Brandon mock-interviews Jarrett about the Seahawks (Brandon's team) defeating the Redskins (Jarrett's team). How cool are the Blazers?
Nate on Brandon's injury: "He couldn't go... He said he was sore and that he felt like he was doing more harm than good.... This game wasn't worth losing him."
Brandon on feeling the pain: "I cut across the lane, I scored... but it was just painful. Brewer beat me to the basket and coach was like `how do you feel'..."
Brandon on playing with the bruised tailbone: "The speed was too much to keep up with... I [didn't] feel like I could help the team."
Brandon on his doctor's orders: "Just rest and ice."
Brandon on whether he will play against Golden State: "I don't know, I don't want to speculate."
Brandon on the Seahawks' playoff victory and the example they set: "Yea, you know I seen the Seahawks! Go Seahawks! Of course, I would love to get to the second round of the playoffs. We aren't focused on that, not even focused on the first round of the playoffs... We're too young; we're not that good yet."
Brandon on Paul Allen: "We talk a lot about the Seahawks. I was excited, a lot of the guys on the team were arguing.. After the game, I talked to Paul and I was like `so are you going to Lambeau?' and he's like `yea, I got to be there.' I was like, `cool, I wish I can be there, I'm a big Seahawk guy.'
Martell on his night: "It was like slow motion, when you're in a zone like that, it just feels really good."
Martell on getting open: "I was running my tail off. I was so tired."
Martell on "Baby Kobe", LaMarcus' nickname for him: "I don't even listen to that. It's Marty! Marty! Marty!"
Random Game Notes:
Tons of signs in the stands tonight. Here are a few: "Blazers fans unite and support your team," "Nate is Coach of the Year," "Hey, Travis, it's the fourth quarter," "It's all from the heart," "It's a loser for Boozer," "MVP: Most Valuable Personnel."... I loved Martell blowing a kiss to the crowd after the big three. Season-defining moment right there... Can't say enough about Sergio tonight. A beautiful hint at his potential... Saw a few fans purchase jerseys at halftime and not even bother to take the tags off before going back to their seat. Now that's excitement... Tons of Seahawks jerseys in the audience tonight too... In the locker room, Brandon grabbed a microphone and mock-interviewed Jarrett Jack regarding the "heartbreaking defeat" for Jack's Redskins. Everyone was in stitches. Watch out Greg Anthony, Brandon Roy is coming for your job... Boozer really struggled all night but he did succeed in putting Martell through the wringer. He would position himself with his body perpendicular to the baseline, becoming as wide as possible to disrupt Martell's sideline-to-sideline runs. Martell took a lot of punishment but kept going back for more. You saw the results... With Brandon out, it was the youngsters' time to shine. And they took full advantage, as Sergio and Jarrett waved their arms for the crowd, signaled their three pointers and jumped into Josh McRoberts who was coming out almost to half court to celebrate during every 4th quarter timeout... I won't be at the Warriors game this Wednesday so you won't hear from me for a few weeks. Here's to an undefeated road trip! Go Blazers.