It's ok. You can admit it. You're among friends here. What team are you rooting for now that the Blazers are planning their respective summers in earnest?
I know, I know. Choosing a team (or teams) to root for once your favorite one is dunzo can be a complicated process. But with all these tight series and buzzer-beaters and what-not, you almost have to take sides.
Some folks naturally gravitate towards the underdog. Others like to be 'practical' and go with a likely Finals contestant. Still others may change their allegiance each round; or you may have a favorite in each series you want to advance. Though in this last case, you might have a really tough job figuring out who to root for between the Clippers and the Rockets.
Who you choose to root for (or against) definitely says something about you. Well, I suppose everything you do says something about you. So that'll be $60 for the hour.
Without further ado, here's a brief Blazer fan's guide on who to root for the rest of the way:
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: It's pretty easy to look at them and dream. Hey Charles Barkley, this team is winning AND shooting jump shots! Their depth is something to aspire to, while the sense of roster continuity, incremental upgrades, development of young talent and team play is heartening. In the meantime, you can live vicariously through an often star-crossed organization having a historic season...at the expense of being called out as a frontrunner. Eh, you've been called worse.
MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: One school of thought says you root for the guys that beat you...sort of like some Stockholm Syndrome / Highlander crossover situation. Hey, you just spent a couple weeks getting to know these guys intimately, and, well, they got some serious heart. It's easy to respect that along with the grind and the toughness. A major side benefit is that the farther they go, the better the Blazers' loss looks. On the flip side, actually watching their games can be a strain on one's appreciation of basketball aesthetics. And it's kind of hard to look at them and not automatically feel that sense of dread I've had on the days when they've been on the Blazers' schedule lately.
ATLANTA HAWKS: Similar to Portland in terms of philosophy and methodology. It would be nice to see such a team succeed, especially since the postseason has been a bit of a slog for them so far. Having the mental toughness to push through when things get tough is something that I'm sure Blazer fans would appreciate, even if the process is messy at times. Plus the complete organizational turnaround is a great story. But if you decide to boycott them till they go back to the old-school logo and unis, I completely support you.
CHICAGO BULLS: The Bulls have been close to championship contention for some time now, but one thing or another keeps derailing them. Maybe you empathize with that hard luck. Or maybe you like to see great third acts, heroic returns from injury, or just enjoy their hard-nosed approach. Their team colors aren't bad either. Problem is, good luck coming up with a comeback that wins over the room when your buddy berates you because "They beat us in '92".
WASHINGTON WIZARDS: If you're a sucker for underdogs, these guys are the last true one left. If you want to see a team pull together after losing its best player, if you hope that Paul Pierce can smite Father Time once and for all, or if you want to be the first on your block to call Bradley Beal 'the next big thing', then this may be the team for you. Also bonus points for a mohawk and a guy who goes by one name. How much better would this team be if it said something other than 'Wizards' across their chest? If a team name is somehow meant to be emblematic of a city, this one suddenly makes the politics in D.C. to be more mysterious and reliant on potions than I'm comfortable with.
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: The hateration aimed at this team early in the year never quite reached the crescendo of the first year of the Miami Heat triumvirate, and they definitely have worked hard to transform and become the team they were supposed to be. Heck, this team has made guys like Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith into the best versions of themselves. It's also easy to root for a small market city besides San Antonio to win for the first time in a LOOONG time. But you may want to pass if you don't want to risk being co-opted by LeBron's next hype-laden merchandising campaign.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS: OK, so there may have been times this year when they looked like they didn't like each other, or didn't really enjoy playing basketball, or maybe complained once or twice to the refs, or have even called out their fans. But as long as the other team isn't in Hack-A-DJ mode, they can put together some pretty fun stretches of basketball. If you can look beyond the social transgressions your friends make, why can't you do the same for your enemies (or at least the entertaining ones)? If you do in this case, you'll see a focused team on a mission in a make-or-break year, which is kind of compelling.
HOUSTON ROCKETS: Alright, you're going to have to come up with your own reasons to root for these guys. Maybe you have a hard time turning away from a hot mess in prime form? You're a contrarian? You're from Houston? You went to high school with Terrence Jones? You always prayed that Jar-Jar Binks would turn to the Dark Side, clone himself a dozen times and form a basketball team? I dunno.
So let us know - who have you hitched your wagon to now that a family member has died from dysentery on the Oregon Trail, and why?