A question of identity

There is a mental disorder in which the afflicted person claims that someone else, usually a close family member or spouse, has been replaced by an identical imposter ( Well, during the years I've been a Blazers fan, I've sometimes harbored similar feelings about the team.

Just as an individual is generally supposed to retain his or her identity after a haircut or even a heart transplant, we tend to think of a team as having an autonomous existence regardless of trades or free-agent additions. There've been times, though, when I just didn't recognize the Blazers, times when they didn't really seem like my team anymore.

I experienced that kind of alienation when Natt, Cooper, and Lever suddenly vanished, and I've felt that way a couple of times more recently. There's no doubt in my mind, though, that our current group of players are really the Portland Trail Blazers.

Now I know that trades are a fact of life in the NBA. I'm also aware that owners, general managers, coaches, and probably most fans just want a winning (or championship) team. But I am not one of those fans.

It saddens me to contemplate Oden, Roy, or Aldridge being traded away one day, even in exchange for a player as great as LeBron. If we could have traded the entire roster of the Drexler-led Blazers for that of Jordan's Bulls, would I have wanted to do it? Hell, no! All those NBA championships would have been won by "Portland", but it wouldn't have been my team. You might as well (and many people did) simply become Bulls fans.

I'm glad that our team plays hard, and that they have a lot of still-developing talent, and that they appear to be good people. I hope they make the playoffs and win a championship, and the sooner the better. But these guys are like family. I want them to succeed, not some other players claiming to be the Trail Blazers.

That's my ever-depreciating 2 cents...