According to Portland Trail Blazers fans, there’s no prouder, better franchise in all of the NBA than the Pacific Northwest stalwarts in red and black. For fifty years, through a World Title, Hall-of-Famers, NBA Finals appearances, and highlights too numerous to mention, the Blazers have been an example of the league’s best.
The problem is, give or take a championship, the fans of 29 other franchises think that too.
During free agency, particularly in the wake of the Carmelo Anthony signing, Dave Deckard discussed the distinctive flavor of the Trail Blazers and how it might, or might not, stand out from other teams. Today he and Dia Miller expand on the concept, asking what, if anything, truly distinguishes the Blazers from other organizations.
Dave: We’re all biased in one way or another towards the Blazers. Constant exposure will do that. But even though we think a lot of the team (in both senses of the phrase), some things stand out.
Here’s the question: Forgetting everything else, what aspects of this franchise are distinctive and objectively great? That might mean current things that put the Blazers on an NBA-elite level, but it could also mean evergreen attributes of the franchise that are as good as anyone has ever been. If you were to name one, what would it be?
Dia: If you can’t guess what I’m going to say first, you probably haven’t read anything I’ve ever written or heard anything I’ve ever said about the Trail Blazers. Chemistry. The Blazers are undeniably, objectively good at creating a team with chemistry. I had a conversation with my dad (a Laker’s fan *eye roll*) not long ago about bringing James Harden to the Trail Blazers. I mean, everyone seems to be having that conversation right now, so I wanted his take. Without hesitation, the first thing he pointed out is that the team has a certain chemistry that would be disrupted. He said that as long as he’s been watching the Blazers play, they have always had a certain team chemistry that you just don’t see everywhere. While chemistry doesn’t win championships alone, it is definitely something that Portland has always done well.
Dave: That has sure been true recently! It was also true in their greatest eras. I can give you that one.
I’m going to say uniforms. Every year, there might be one or two better, but the Blazers rank up there with the Raiders, Yankees, and even Lakers as having consistently awesome uniforms. Red, black, and white, with the red usually an accent piece, looks awesome on everyone. I understand that the uniforms of the teams I just named are more iconic because the teams themselves are more famous, but if you’re looking for cool and consistent, Portland’s got it.
What else ya got?
Dia: I absolutely agree. Portland’s uniforms are so good every single year. I’d go one step further and say the branding and logo of the team are top tier. Truly one of the best in the league if not sports overall. Sometimes branding doesn’t feel consistent or true to a team, but I have never seen that with Portland. It’s easily identifiable and just really cool.
I think the Trail Blazers’ social media is stellar. Incredible. Unmatched. The humor, wit, creativity and use of artistry is just so good. I follow a lot of teams on social media, and my own personal fandom aside, Portland is by far my favorite to follow. I think they have really found a way to not only highlight the team and players as individuals, but to pull in fans, local artists and creators, and really give a community feel to the team’s social media.
Dave: Here’s the question. Do the Blazers have the “best” fans in the NBA? This has traditionally been said (seriously) about a few franchises: Trail Blazers, Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76’ers, and New York Knicks. The Knicks have been clubbing their fans like baby seals for years, so I think they’re out of the running. Bulls, Sixers, and Blazers fans are quite different. Which do you feel are the best?
Dia: I’m not sure I can be completely unbiased on this one. I’ve experienced Trail Blazer fandom differently than I have any other team.Truthfully though, I think Trail Blazers fans are unique in a lot of ways. The Moda Center is loud and known to be one of the best places to play as far as fans are concerned. I’ve heard the players can actually FEEL the fans on the floor. Friends of mine who are not Trail Blazers fans have made comments about how loud Blazer fans get on Twitter during Portland’s games. I think there’s something unique about this fan base. I can’t completely put a finger on why exactly, but truly from as unbiased of a position as I can give, I think the Trail Blazers have the best fans.
Dave: I think Portland fans have been among the best at showing affection for former players. Once you’ve been a Trail Blazer, you’re part of the collective consciousness. There have been notable exceptions. The community is biased, maybe in ways we don’t even acknowledge. But in the pantheon of NBA franchises, Portland has one of the best historical legacies and culture surrounding it. The retired numbers hanging in Moda Center (that many people laugh about) tell the story. Everybody else goes, “Wait...who?” Blazers fans are, “Oh, HIM!” Then they’ll rattle off a half-hour story about seeing the guy play and how great those teams were.
Anything else from your end?
Dia: I could go on and on about what this franchise is good at. I think over the years they’ve done a lot of things right. But I think overall, these are the most notable. These are the things that any fan from any franchise (if unbiased) would probably agree with. Truthfully, these are great things to be known for. I’d love to be known for great drafting ability (but, *ahem* Michael Jordan), or winning championship after championship (I mean, we are 1x champions, so there’s that). But if we can’t be known for those things, these are pretty good legacies as well.
What say you, dear readers? What typifies the Trail Blazers as great in objective terms, or at least as close as possible? Lend your voice to the conversation in the comments below!