Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Although the most recent outcome was a pity
It won't diminish the tone of this ditty
Because while the shorts have gotten longer
Blazer fan support has gotten stronger
As the Rose City revisits "Rip City"
On a late spring afternoon in early June 1977, in front of a sellout crowd of 12,666, The Portland Trailblazers scored 108 points, beat the Philadelphia 76'ers and the resulting NBA Championship fundamentally changed its perception of itself. On an early spring evening in late March of 2009, with a sellout of 20,620 fans, the Blazers scored 108 points but lost to Philadelphia during a push to return to the playoffs after a 6 year drought. Although much has changed in form, fashion, finance both personally and globally over the span of 3 decades, it's interesting to reflect on what hasn't changed.

The role of sports in society is widely debated as some feel it is emphasized too much in our educational system and garners more coverage in the media than other more significant issues. The role model aspect of sports has suffered as the perception of "win at any cost" has dominated recent headlines. Still, there are aspects of the sporting experience that are valuable for a society, particularly during challenging times. I've always felt that being able to identify with a team and vicariously participating in their ups and downs is valuable experience for dealing with life's inevitable ups & downs. I've been fortunate with my fan support of Medford, Stanford, and St. Louis sports teams and their level of success, so the thrill of victory has been experienced a number of times. (Medford's 1970 State football championship, Stanford's 1972 Rose Bowl and the numerous good showings in other sports, and the STL Cardinals entertainingly contending often with World Series in '64, '67, '68, '82, '85, & '06) The 1977 Trailblazer championship was another of those great memories and it's interesting to see the impact of that event still resonates with fans, many who weren't even born then.

Last night's game was enjoyable, especially since Sean was able to come up from Eugene to catch the game with me, much like Evan did when he lit briefly in Portland between foreign assignments. Sean came up with some buddies who were performing at the Mt. Tabor Theater, and he'll be back on Saturday with Reeble Jar, playing at the Goodfoot. Ted & I have tickets for the Memphis game so we hope to catch the early portion of Sean's show after the game. We settled in our seats during player introductions and after a nearly flawless 1st quarter when the 76'ers outshot their name (81%), we felt fortunate the Blazers were only down by 5 points. Aldridge kept the Blazers in the game, and Oden looked good in limited action but the Blazers still were down 58-44 at the half. A spirited comeback led by Rudy and Steve Blake made for a exciting 2nd half and with 20 seconds left, the Blazers were just were they wanted, Brandon Roy with the ball and a chance to win, tied at 98. Brandon had an off night, including his final shot and the resulting overtime only provided Chalupas for scoring 100 points, not the sweet taste of victory. The buzz in the crowd was some disappointment but more appreciation that the Blazers came back and gave themselves a chance. In the recent past of a few years ago, the team might have packed it in after falling behind by 20 but the current Blazers aren't quitters, and that sends a good message to the Portland psyche. Bad bounces, calls, or breaks are part of life on and off the court and the response is the valuable lesson. I look forward to experiencing more of those lessons… MTP

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