The Portland Trail Blazers were expected to contend for a prime playoff spot this season. As a .500 November morphed into an even drearier December, people began to question their chemistry and commitment. So, too, the author of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag question.
How come you haven’t addressed the elephant in the corner of the gym? What the hell happened to our chemistry? Last year it was a big love fest up in here and now rumors are flying about divisions and effort on the court isn’t reassuring. Why the big change and how do they get the good feeling back?
To be frank, Nelly, we haven’t addressed it because up until now the question has been unanswerable. But all of that all changes today.
For the last few months we have been holding onto a secret surveillance tape recorded near the start of Trail Blazers training camp. Our lawyers inform us that we cannot release the tape itself without getting sued to the moon. We are allowed to print a transcript of its audio as long as we do not identify specific participants by name.
Having agreed to these restrictions, we can now reveal how the Trail Blazers chemistry problem evolved.
October 4th, 2016: Trail Blazers Training Camp, Week 2
Blazers Practice Facility, Tualatin, Oregon
Sound of dribbling balls fills the gym.
Player 1: Man, the groupies are getting older but mmmm...that one sure had some fine moves.
Player 2: Groupies? I don’t see any groupies around here today. Wait. Mom?!????
Whistle blows. Dribbling stops.
Coach: Huddle up, guys! Team doctor is here!
Team Doctor: Ahem. Yes. As you all know the Trail Blazers have The Finest Owner in Pro Sports™. Sparing no expense, he has commissioned these completely undetectable enhancement pills tailored to each of your individual biochemical footprints. The pill will give you an approximate 2 in 15 chance of developing astonishing offensive skills. If the dose works you will become a scorer with All-Star potential, huge contract, and attendant benefits. Each dose also comes with the unavoidable side effect of draining all your defensive ability. Even though we produced enough for all of you, this is a calculated risk. It will be important to determine which select few should actually take... Hey. Where did all the pills go?
Player 3: Speaking of contract benefits, I bought myself a Maserati this summer!
Player 4: Ha! You’re cheap! I got a Lamborghini.
Player 5: Stuff it. I got a Bugatti Chiron.
Player 4: How’d you do that? You don’t get paid until next year.
Player 5: I got it on order. They take a while to deliver.
Player 6: Hey, man! What’d you get? Ferrari?
Player 7: Naw, I went old school and got me eight Porsches, one for every day of the week.
Player 3: But there are only seven days in a week.
Player 7: Not anymore! I bought an eighth one.
Sounds of laughter and high fives slapping.
Player 6: What ride did you buy, Anonymous Unnamed Center?
Awkward silence falls.
Player 6: Oh man. Sorry. I forgot.
Anonymous Unnamed Center: It’s ok. I like my Honda.
Player 7: But hey, you’re still going to rebound hard and cover for the rest of us defensively when we let our men into the lane, right?
Anonymous Unnamed Center: Yeah, sure.
Whistle blows again.
Coach: Alright, listen up! I brought in my old mentor, George Karl, to give you guys a pre-season pep talk.
Player 2: Coach, isn’t that supposed to be “Anonymous Old-Time Mentor”?
Coach: Naw. Everybody’s going to know who it is anyway.
George Karl: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve. But I do know that everything that’s about to happen is YOUR fault, Player 7!
Player 7: What the...?
Coach: George, what’s going on?
George Karl: I am old, Terry. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.
Coach: Or something. Let’s just move on, shall we?
George Karl: I came from the end of bag, but no bag went over me. I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ring-winner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.
Coach: That’s crazy, George. You never won a ring.
George Karl: Oh yeah? What have I got in my pocket then? Tee hee!
Gasps of shock and cries of revulsion fill the air.
Coach: EWWW! Get him out of here! Everybody take a break. I’m gonna go gouge my eyes out.
Player 7: Huddle up! We’re all going to San Diego again this weekend. Mandatory retreat.
Sound of groans.
Player 7: Come on, none of that. We gotta do more team building.
Player 1: And by team building you mean...?
Player 7: Listening to the demos for my new rap album!
Player 4: Again? We did that the first three weeks of September!
Player 7: You want to take any shots this season, Player 4?
Player 4: Yes.
Sound of arms folding and an audible glare.
Player 4: San Diego it is!
Weak cheering fills the room, followed by the sounds of basketballs dribbling once more.
There you have it. As you’re digesting these important revelations, don’t forget to send in your Mailbag questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. We might try to answer them a little more seriously. Or not.
Meanwhile please help spread the word on the following:
We need your help sending 2,000+ underprivileged Portland-area kids to a Trail Blazers game on March 9th, Check out Blazer’s Edge Night 2017 for information on how you can make a difference in the life of a child!