The Portland Trail Blazers are in a major transition phase. Damian Lillard appears to be on his way out the door. Scoot Henderson, Shaedon Sharpe, and Anfernee Simons are available to step up, but there are no guarantees any will be able to lead the franchise into success. In this atmosphere, mourning and uncertainty abound for Blazers fans, but also hope. Is any of the latter warranted? That’s the topic of today’s Blazer’s Edge Mailbag question.
Is there any hope for us? It’s been so rough lately. The past two years haven’t gone as planned at all. It feels like the whole team is headed into a ditch and ready to get buried. Do you see any hope of getting out of it? Will we ever win a championship again? I try to have hope but I need some reassurance.
Winning an NBA Championship is a lofty goal, but yes...there’s always hope.
Four years is a long time in this league. Seven is an eternity. Zap us all back seven years ago and we’d have sworn that nobody but the Golden State Warriors would ever win a championship again. Since then we’ve had Toronto, Milwaukee, and Denver claim titles. None of those were obvious candidates.
Look at Trail Blazers history to find plenty of examples of the same phenomenon.
Portland went from expansion team to World Champions in seven years. When Bill Walton’s foot went south, it looked like the end of everything. At the close of that same decade Portland went to the NBA Finals, engineering the longest sustained run of success the franchise has ever known. The architect of that era, Clyde Drexler, got traded in 1995. That was the end of everything for those Blazers. Four years later they returned to the Conference Finals twice.
After that, Portland drooped into the worst stretch imaginable, failing on and off the court in the Jailblazers debacle. That misery took root in 2002. In 2006 they welcomed Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, leading to a new generation of hopefuls. They won a huge percentage of the games that Roy, Aldridge, and first-overall pick Greg Oden played together until Oden and Roy crumbled under chronic knee injuries, a jaw-dropping catastrophe that only now is starting to lose its sting.
The epitaph on those “new look” Blazers got inscribed in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 they drafted a young point guard out of Weber State named Damian Lillard and another new era commenced. They didn’t have the same success as in earlier decades, but that run was still good enough for you to be mourning its loss even now, in this very question.
In each and every case, a major change—often unfortunate—preceded the next period of success. No need to despair. Maybe grab a Whiskey drink, a Vodka drink, a Lager drink, or a Cider drink instead. It sure seems like the Blazers get knocked down, but they get up again. Saying that you’re never going to keep them down might be going too far. There are no guarantees that Portland will win in the future, near or far. But it’s not impossible. So far, that’s been enough. I’m guessing it will be once again.
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