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How Far We've Come

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I got a great e-mail from Robert over the weekend reminding me of a post we (and by that I mean you guys and I) did way back in the Summer of 2007.  It was entitled "All the Reasons".  Together we listed all of the things we were looking forward to in the coming year(s).  I opened up the topic and you guys replied.  This was in early August, well after the Greg Oden draft and just barely before the news about Oden's knee broke.  (Sorry...I shouldn't use "Oden's knee" and "broke" in the same sentence.  My bad.)  

As I look back over the list I'm struck by the good feelings, confidence, and yes, even a little optimism peeking through.  When I read through the list again I thought, nearly two years later, we should look back and see which have transpired and which we're still waiting for.  I've also commented on most of them.

The list was in no particular order of importance.  Here you go:

1.      The first fast break dunk. 

We got this long ago, of course.  I think it's fair to say that we still don't have the whole fast break thing down yet.  But we have seen more fast break buckets this year than in years past and this part of the game keeps improving. 

2.      The first time Greg Oden posterizes Shaq. 

Ermmm...still waiting on this one. 

3.      Brandon Roy proving that he's at or near the star level. 

Cute!  We said, "Star".  How about All-Star?  How about the tier below the serious MVP discussion?  Because that's where he is.  Everybody went berserk the first time he was named to the All-Star team.  Most national broadcasts (and many of the opponent's regional broadcasts as well) now introduce him as "two-time All-Star Brandon Roy".   Ironically enough the next big step for him is getting that introduction shortened back down to just "Brandon Roy".  Think about it.  Are Dirk Nowitzki or Steve Nash ever heralded by their number of All-Star appearances?  Of course not.  You already know they're in the game every year.  It would be redundant.  Their accomplishments outstrip the glitzy appellation. That's where Brandon is headed next. 

4.      The battle for starting positions and playing time. 

Yeesh...we've had our fill of that.  Though there haven't been many true battles for starting positions.  Most have either been quickly decided or have been influenced by injuries.  But those positions, and bench positions to the nth degree, have been debated ad nauseum.  I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a settled rotation where the only real argument is whether we'll win by 2, 12, or 20.

I almost never do this but because there were so many things we were looking forward to you're going to have to click through to finish the list.

5.      Lamarcus dropping 25 and 10 on Z-Bo and the Knicks. 

Well, Z-Bo was suspended by the league for the game but he did drop 28 and 10 on the Clippers on February 22nd of this year.  He's also hit 25 and 10 a half dozen other times. 

6.      The team chemistry coming together into a nice gel. 

It's going so well now that it's hard to remember this was ever an issue.  This is one of the most amazing parts of the team and one of the reasons they're incredibly easy to love. 

7.      Brandon Roy's first career triple-double. 

He did it February 1st, 2008 against--lo and behold!--Zach Randolph and the New York Knicks.  20 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists, and the Blazers win 94-88.  I guess that's how you win, Z-Bo. 

8.      Any of the big guys getting a huge block. 

While Joel Przybilla hasn't exactly returned to the form he had from '04-'06 he has registered plenty of big blocks this year alone.  And EVERY block Greg Oden makes looks big.  Don't know if you've noticed that.  The block is actually becoming a regular and intimidating part of our defensive arsenal. 

9.      ALL of the big guys getting blocks in the same game. 

This happens with regularity too.  Exciting nowadays, isn't it? 

10.   An Oden block that leads to a fast break opportunity. 

We don't get that many fast breaks and Oden hasn't had as much playing time as we'd hoped, so the definitive one has yet to happen.  This is still on the list thought! 

11.   A Blazer hustling back on an opponent's fast break and breaking it up. 

HELLLLLOOOOOO Nicolas Batum!  I bet you'd forgotten what it was like in the days when we hoped to see this happen just once. 

12.   The applause and excitement of a rejuvenated crowd. 

Oh yeah.  The Rose Garden is rocking big time nowadays.  The crowd pretty much destroys everything in its path when the Blazers get going. 

13.    Oden getting 20 and 10. 

It's happened twice.  He had 22 and 10 in a loss to the Warriors on November 18th and he poured in 24 and added 15 boards in a victory against Milwaukee on January 19th.  Those were both about a year later than we were hoping, but that's the way it goes. 

14.    Travis scoring 20+ in a win. 

What?  Mr. Fourth Quarter didn't always do this?  Apparently nobody had a clue about the arrival of Super Trout. 

15.    A free-flowing, beautiful offense. 

The pace is still slow but I think you have to admit that the offense is far more fluid and graceful now than it was two years ago.  Thank Rudy Fernandez for being the final catalyst to get us going. 

16.    Portland being somewhere in the race for the last playoff spots. 

We may be in the race for more... 

17.    The Blazers shooting 10 more free throws than the opponent plus getting 5 blocks. 

This one was kind of specific, but I know both have happened multiple times.  They could have happened in the same game, I suppose.  The general drift is that the Blazers are getting to the line and blocking shots more than they used to. 

18.    Darius coming back in some capacity. 

OOOOH!  Party foul!  Whoever suggested this one, I don't think that "Salary Cap Millstone" was the capacity they had in mind. 

19.    The Blazers not being doormats anymore. 

No worries there. 

20.    Watching Oden and Aldridge team up on defense and offense. 

Again, we haven't seen as much of it as we need to.  There are still kinks to work out.  But we'll get there. 

21.    Brandon Roy's first buzzer-beating three of the new season. 

Do you mean "season" as in 2007-08 or "season" as in "one for Christmas, one at New Year's, one on Valentine's Day..."? 

22.    Brandon Roy's game-winner on national TV. 

Hello, Rockets! 

23.    Martell going off. 

This happened a couple times in '07-'08.  The only "off" he's gone so far this year is "off his feet".

24.    Oden breaking a backboard maniacally and then apologizing sheepishly. 

Not frisky enough yet.  Although have you noticed the refs never "T" him up for hanging on the rim?  Being a first overall pick does have its advantages. 

25.    The first career game by one of those lesser-known acquisitions which will make people praise KP even more. 

Given the time perspective those would now include Rudy, Sergio, and Nic.  I'm not sure we've seen career-defining games yet but we've seen some sparks.  

26.    Oden winning the season's first jump ball against Tim Duncan. 

Because of the knee surgery he never got to try. 

27.    Just the season starting period! 

Somebody was a little cranky.  Or going through withdrawal shakes.

28.    The return of the hard-nosed, solid-D Joel Przybilla. 

You mean the kind of Joel that gets standing ovations in a 2-point, 1-rebound game? 

29.    Just one well-executed outlet pass. 

Hey, have you noticed that Oden does this from time to time? 

30.    The Rose Garden returning to the most home-court advantage joint in all of sports. 

Getting there... 

31.    Greg Oden ripping a rebound away from Joakim Noah in the United Center. 

Oden not only took the ball, but most of the nutsack.

I think I can say that because this is buried 31 deep down this list.  And that's a medical term, I believe. 

32.    Tony Parker streaking past Jarrett Jack into the lane just like last year then getting smothered by Oden. 

None of that is happening much anymore.  Jack and Oden never got to play together in any case. 

33.    Massacring the Sonics on Christmas as Oden swats Durant into oblivion. 

We did end up beating Seattle by 10.  Moment of silence that it can never happen again. 

34.    Oden winning the Rookie of the Year. 

Unlikely unless he averages 264 ppg for the next nine games. 

35.    Oden with an offensive game of 30+. 

Hasn't gotten there yet. 

36.    Just seeing Jarrett Jack's booty.  (?)  (I didn't know Jarrett had an account here.)

You can still see his booty.  It's just wearing blue and yellow now.

37.    Seeing some nationally televised Blazer highlights for a change. 

I still think ESPN shorts us a little, but they do with most non-L*ker West Coast teams. 

38.    Aldridge going off all over the place. 

That's been happening with regularity lately. 

39.    Seeing the Rose Garden full. 

Check.  By tickets sold, anyway.

40.    Even the first pre-season game! 

We beat the Clippers! 

41.    The Blazers showing some nasty competitive fire. 

Now with 78% more facial hair. 

42.    Finally seeing a consistent fast-breaking team in red and black. 

Not yet, but working on it. 

43.    Seeing the front line get a three-handed block on a Kobe buzzer-beater. 

This one seems a little far-fetched, as we'd never allow the L*kers to get that close. 

44.    Seeing how much we've grown in late March. 

Fast forward it to this season and you've got it. 

45.    Seeing a textbook pick and roll. 

Lately they've been better.  I think the Blazers got tired of seeing other teams do it to them. 

46.    One of our bigs hammering an opposing driver to the floor. 

And that driver's name was LeBron. 

47.    The snazzy wardrobe bling that will hopefully surround the new Blazers (warm-ups and such). 

The motto of this new team:  less bling, more ring. 

48.    Oden swatting the heck out of Dikembe Mutumbo and then waving "the finger" (like Deke). 

That isn't really Oden's style.  Though for a while there his beard was wagging on blocks. 

49.    Any win over the Spurs, Mavs, or Suns. 

Two out of three ain't bad.  Though we did beat Dallas in '07-'08. 

50.    Hearing Rock and Roll Part 2 for the first time when it matters.

This was before the Gary Glitter news came out. 

51.    (cough)  Blazer Dancer Ione's wardrobe malfunction during team intros. 

Still waiting on that one I suspect. 

52.    A clean sweep of the Lakers. 

At home? 

53.    A new-era Blazer getting a 6-story picture on a downtown building like Jerome Kersey used to have.

Are the grain elevators close enough? 

54.    Watching our speedy guards on the break. 

Sergio! 

55.    Oden leading the fast break (like Shaq used to do?) for a dunk. 

I've seen him on the secondary break.  I don't think you'll be seeing him dribbling. 

56.    Sergio (eventually to Rudy Fernandez but for this year to anybody) for an alley-oop. 

Yeah, we get a lot of that. 

57.    Portland fans STANDING every once in a while! 

That happens a lot.  Especially while applauding. 

58.    Meaningful games in April. 

Wait about two more days... 

59.    Just one playoff win. 

I think we could manage that one. 

60.    Nate not having to call a timeout within the first 4 minutes of the second half. 

AHHH!  Remember those days?  Remember when Nate had to keep himself from strangling Zach right there in the huddle every third game or so?  Thank goodness we're free to employ our times out more strategically nowadays. 

61.    Just watching them play when I haven't been able to for years.

I'm not even going to ask if you can get Comcast. 

62.    Zero arrests/convictions/bad headlines/drug stories/etc. 

732 days without an accident and counting! 

63.    Brandon Roy crossing over Bowen on opening night and then scoring on Duncan. 

I bet this has happened a time or two. 

64.    A new Blazer SONG coming out! 

Or a couple remakes of the old one played at the beginning of every telecast? 

65.    McRoberts Mcpassing to Oden for a big McDunk.

Sadly, never happened.  One got McScoped and the other got McTraded. 

66.    Seeing a clear starting small forward and point guard emerge from the pack. 

Hmmm...probably still waiting on that.  Two years later, too. 

67.    The Twin Towers getting double-digit rebounds together. 

Well, LaMarcus and Joel did it in that heartbreaker loss in Orlando in December.  Not what you meant?  OK, how's this?  Oden 10, Aldridge 10, and Przybilla 14 in a 109-77 rout of the Kings on December 16th. 

68.    Greg, Lamarcus, or both getting a 20-20 game. 

Still waiting on those rebounds. 

69.    Brandon Roy getting some respect on calls near the end of the game. 

Not an issue anymore. 

70.    Maybe going a whole season without significant injuries. 

And I, personally, would like a Bugatti, a season ticket seat right next to Paul Allen, and a harem. 

71.    Jarrett and Martell playing better and smiling. 

Halfway there.  But not for us.  And not when T.J. Ford is playing too. 

72.    Channing Frye making Pritchard look like a genius and Isiah Thomas look like a fool. 

I'm not sure either needed help from Channing. 

73.    Travis Outlaw rewarding the team's patience with consistent play. 

Closer...closer! 

74.    Seeing somebody hit an open three. 

Wow!  How low the bar used to be.  One of the most significant developments in opening up the offense has been the advent of all of these shooters. 

75.    Seeing KP's first full year as GM. 

Worked out OK, I think.  That lottery thing helped. 

76.    Watching Roy and Aldridge versus Oden in the rookie/sophomore game.

Knee.

77.    Seeing Channing Frye swat Zach Randolph. 

Playfully on the butt, you mean?  Because Channing's post defense isn't that great.

78.    Watching anyone steal the ball from Steve Francis. 

I don't think he cares much.  He'd just buy a new one. 

79.    Seeing Lamarcus outplay Rasheed Wallace in the Rose Garden. 

I don't know about outplayed, but he's done OK. 

80.    Watching Oden outmuscle Yao in the post. 

Have you seen how big Yao is? 

81.    Seeing Brandon Roy dropping 50 on Hibachi without strutting like a rooster. 

Gilbert doesn't play for the Suns. 

82.    Or watching our backcourt shut out Agent Zero in Portland, either one. 

That's been done. 

83.    Simple: Aldridge, high post, to Oden...ALLEY-OOP SLAAAAAAM! 

Except for the alley-oop part we've seen the high-low a few times.

84.    Finally having Nate have something to smile about...then seeing if he does it.

Occasionally.  I don't think he thinks there's that much to smile about yet.  At least not until the season is over. 

85.    The first Roy-to-Aldridge assist of the season. 

Cinchy. 

86.    Oden blocks to Blake who whips it to Aldridge...throwdown...BOOOOOM CHAKALAKA! 

Be a little less precise on the players and I think you could see it. 

87.    The first time Greg Oden is introduced to the crowd. (chills) 

There were indeed. 

88.    A whole summer of anticipation coming out as the Blazers are introed on opening night. 

That was kind of killed both years by the Oden injuries. 

89.    Seeing a team that works hard on BOTH ends.

The results aren't always there, but we've been seeing much more effort. 

90.    Watching five guys get back on D instead of four. 

That happens with regularity. 

91.    Seeing the relationship between players and other players (plus fans) grow. 

Yep! 

92.    Watching Brandon and LMA become real leaders on and off the court. 

Yep! 

93.    Clicking onto OregonLive.com and seeing some totally unexpected wins. 

I'm sure you meant Blazersedge.com, right? 

94.    Big smiles on MAX after the game! 

I can personally testify that happens.  In fact I've had people talk to me unsolicited about the team.  That hasn't gone on in years. 

95.    Having more people interested in attending a Blazer game party at the pad than the Superbowl party. 

Except for the commercials I think you might have that.

96.    Seeing homemade Rip City signs in cars across Oregon. 

Would you settle for at the Rose Garden? 

97.    Kids telling stories about Blazer players attending lunch at their school.

And not stealing it? 

97.    Those same kids memorizing lyrics to our new Blazer songs. 

Bustabucketwhodatdunkit...oh wait, that's old. 

98.    Martell getting fierce and angry (at somebody besides himself). 

Crutches always make a guy look more fierce. 

99.    John Canzano getting the "bandwagon" treatment because of all the positive articles. 

There has been some positive sentiment from time to time. 

100. Finally...GREG ODEN BOBBLEHEAD NIGHT! 

Now with Bobbleknees!  I am waiting for the Greg Oden version of the classic game Operation.  They should sell that at the Blazer Fanshop.  "BZZZT!  Now that's three weeks more on IR!  Good job, Justin!"  

101. The Blazers Big Three outworking the more heralded Celtics Big Three. 

We did indeed see that at home. 

102. Greg Oden responding to the Durant question with a 20, 15, 10 triple-double.

Unless they allow 10 fouls... 

103. Watching a Blazer dunk all over Yi Jianlian. 

That's like saying, "Watching a critic pan Ashley Simpson music." 

104. Blazersedge continuing to blow up all over the place. 

We blew, alright.  Up, that is. 

105. A ton of people sporting Blazer gear all over the town! 

I'm doing my part!  Just not in town. 

106. Seeing the Blazers play on Christmas Day. 

Twice so far.  One win, one loss.

107. Seeing more international coverage. 

There's been more of that for sure. 

108. Beating the Lakers and watching them mope!!! 

And shake their heads.  And whine about refs.  And wonder why they can never win in Portland.

And that's about it!  If you have new ones to add go ahead and put them in the comment section below!

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)