After a long summer of frittering and fidgeting, the Portland Trail Blazers Media Day is finally upon us! Sure, it's the NBA version of a baby shower. The due date isn't close yet. You're not even far enough along to begin Lamaze classes. But after reading, "What to Expect When You're Expecting" for the 22nd time you're ready for some friends to laugh, quip, and share a present or two with before the real work begins.
That's about what will happen today. New attitudes and old platitudes will get plenty of exposure. You'll hear a ton of quotes, see some ridiculous still photos, and maybe catch a nice video interview or two. Then the party's done and it's on to business.
We'll enjoy that party together, of course. Ryan A Chase will be on the scene for Blazer's Edge gathering comments and sharing the general ambiance. Our crack staff will bring you all the news from around the web. It'll be a nice kick-off to the new year.
To whet your appetite before our general discussion/news thread opens tomorrow morning, here's a Mailbag question on the topic.
We've read plenty about players gathering for early action even before the pre-season starts. Does this signal an even better start to the year than last year? Because if it does, woof! I'm stoked! Go Blazers!
Second, if the "Gunny" is referencing a sergeant's position, thanks for your service. Your sacrifices help make it possible for us to enjoy things like basketball.
Third...probably not on the "better start" thing, for a couple reasons.
1. The Blazers started the season 22-4 last year. My guess is that's going to be a little hard to top.
2. Coming in to work out early has been an off-season storyline for this team since the Brandon Roy days. (Who can forget the joy of Greg Oden joining in those August workouts and then stretchers and...ugh. Nevermind.) Every year we get cheery reports of players coming in voluntarily. Every year the season ends up like the season ends up.
That's not to say early workouts are a bad thing. Rather the team has won 54 after early workouts and the team has won 33 after early workouts. Maybe they would have done worse had those workouts not happened. We don't know. But we do know they're not a magic formula to success. Instead they're one of the things you figure might be expected of a modern NBA player with some affinity for his team. Failing that, you'd expect him to work out somewhere. If he wasn't working out at all you might get worried. But pre-season conditioning and informal drills are like learning the alphabet before you try to write the Great American Novel: more prerequisite than guarantee of success.
You could play bingo with Media Day phrases the same way you can with the clichés on draft day. Memes abound. "They're working out early!" should occupy one of the squares on your card. You also have:
- "This player looks stronger."
- "This player gained/lost 15 pounds"
- "This player is turning over a new leaf."
- "This player knows it's his year to step it up."
- "This player is fired up for the season to start."
- "This guy now understands he needs to play defense to be a complete player."
- "This player has been talking to/working out with [insert name of former superstar here]."
- "Players X and Y have developed quite a bond over the summer."
- "The coach is promising the team will fast-break more."
- "The coach is planning on employing more full-court, pressure defense this year."
- "The coach is excited because the roster is much deeper this year."
- "The coach said that even though Player X had trouble elsewhere, he gets a clean slate here."
- "The coach said that all starting spots are up for grabs." (Not likely heard in Portland.)
- "The team is carrying a chip on its shoulder from last year."
- "This young squad has an extra year of experience under its belt."
- "The general manager says no trades are imminent but he'll always listen to offers."
- "The goal this year is to [insert one step above last year's achievement level here]."
- "The new guy on the team is going to [do something that heretofore in his career has been outside his skill set]."
- "We're working our way towards a title and this is a step in the journey."
The only such phrase I tend to lean on is, "Player X has been working on his outside shot." That one seems to pan out more often than the others. Of course it also means Player X will be over-relying on his outside shot for a while, but hey...you take what you can.
In any case, these are all things you'd expect to hear at your average baby shower when the baby is orange, round, and will tip-off in a month. You wouldn't necessarily credit, "Your baby is going to be the cutest EVER!" as absolute truth but you'd be worried if you heard, "Your baby is going to look like a pink, wrinkled lizard." It's best to take the platitudes with a grain of salt but appreciate the chance to hear them as opposed to whatever the Philadelphia 76'ers GM is going to try to say this year.
Enjoy media day! Congratulations on your impending new season!
(Oh, and if you have your own Media Day Bingo contributions, leave them in the comment section. It'll pass the time while we wait.)