Two weeks ago, the Portland Trail Blazers traded Mario Hezonja to the Memphis Grizzlies for Enes Kanter. Hezonja did not join the Grizzlies for training camp, and recent reports indicate that the team plans on buying him out before the season starts.
This could represent the end of Hezonja’s NBA career. After flaming out in three separate cities, his next contract will likely take him back overseas.
While I would not recommend the Mario experience, I’ll also never forget it. He expertly filled the void left by Meyers Leonard as an exasperating bench player who made me go hands up in bewilderment multiple times a game. Having a player like this on the roster has begun to feel like an essential and endearing piece of the overall Blazer experience.
As a tribute to Mario and the bizarre experience of watching him, I wrote him a career elegy (not to be confused with a eugoogly).
Supernova Mario: An Elegy
Goodnight, sweet Mario, you wild, unknowable Croat;
the infamous slayer of Greak Freaks; the brash blocker of GOATs.
Your legend carried you far from home, a star shooting across the sea,
to the magical world of Orlando; fate’s cruel lottery destiny.
You shouldered the hopes of a Florida fanbase — tired, lost and sweaty;
a Mushroom Swamp in need of hero, but Super Mario wasn’t ready.
Unable to find sure footing, you faded from legend to afterthought;
a swingman who had swagger, but no semblance of a jump shot.
The Magic finally banished you to wander the wilderness of free agency,
where hopeful suitors pursued your favor, including my beloved Rip City.
Now at last, the time had come, when you alone controlled your fate;
a chance to rewrite your story, and find a team with a fit that was great.
Alas! Lured by Dolan’s siren song, you forsook damp Portland nights;
for a taste of the forbidden Big Apple, and the sparkle of MSG lights.
They say a single flame can spark a fire, but it’s hard to hold a candle,
playing next to Frankie Smokes, buffeted by winds from a spinning Julius Randle.
The redemption tour floundered, sunk by a maelstrom of Knicks incompetence,
but you kept yourself from drowning, clinging to a final shard of confidence.
Washed up on the Oregon coast, you were welcomed by the city you spurned.
The prodigal son returning. A chance to rebuild the bridge you once burned.
But then you were just terrible, man. Like to a truly shocking degree.
You made us pine for days of Aminu, and the snap of his catapult three.
A do-it-all guard who seemingly couldn’t do anything at all,
you struggled whenever we needed you to shoot, pass, dribble or catch the ball.
You chased every highlight, but always fell short in spectacular fashion,
discovering new ways to turn the ball over, as if it were your passion.
While your game frustrated and confounded, I’ll admit I found it fun;
you were basketball’s Icarus, intent on repeatedly flying into the sun.
So goodnight, sweet prince! Rest and find your peace.
Leave your troubles in the past; let your trials cease.
Destined to implode, your star burned too hot and bright,
like a basketball supernova, fading into the dark of night.
OK, Blazer’s Edge. Mark has thrown down the gauntlet. Do you think you can do better? Show appreciation to ANY past Blazers (or Blazers-related) figure in any poetry form you wish in the comment section and let us grade your work! Mark will be hard to beat, but we have creative readers, so let’s see what we can come up with!