Been There And Back: The Trail Blazer's Story

March 5, 2009
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'BOOM SHAKA LAKA!!' The voice erupts through the radio, momentarily sending chills down my spine.
'Another excellent play by this young Blazers team'' the announcer continues, regaining his composure. I feel a smile sweep across my face, and I know I will be unable to conceal it. Who can blame me? Looking back, I can remember when just four or five years ago the Portland Trail Blazers were a sub par team with plenty of 'should-be' good players, with 'can't be' attitudes. They were the laughing stock of the Western Conference, dubbed 'The Jail Blazers' for their infamous off-court incidents, including spousal abuse, dog fighting rings, and more than a few drug busts. Rip City, as Portland is called, was heading down the same road of extinction as dinosaurs had before us. The city, once so well known for passionate, vocal fans and one of the best home court advantages in the NBA, couldn't bear to watch as the team they had once been so proud of was collapsing from within. Even the Blazers billionaire owner, Paul Allen, pondered selling the floundering franchise.

Ticket sales reached an all time low, and even the most loyal fans were losing hope. All the more discouraging, players continued with off court antics that could make a convict flinch. Fans started boycotting games, refusing to accept the team's low work ethic and embarrassing off court behavior. Blazer officials knew something needed to be done, and soon enough, a new president had been hired; a happy sign for the still hesitant, shunned former blazer fans. Next, two promising young players, Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge were drafted, and many members of the notorious Jail Blazer team were traded. The future for the once pathetic franchise was looking up. In 2008, the last player of the former team was traded. Now, the Blazers had young, raw players with endless talent, and most importantly, nice-guy team members, polar opposites from the team full of over-inflated egos of the past.

The next few seasons were spent rebuilding the bridges that had been burned with the Jail Blazers. While these seasons were not filled with awe-inspiring wins, the fans slowly but surely started to pile back into the arena every night. At the end of the 2006-2007 season, and although their record would never reflect it, the Blazers were leaps and bounds above the low valley they had been in just a few years before. The Blazers may not have been the best team in the league, but their roster was full of hard working, character guys, and the fans could understand that. Even with the low win percentage, the team was considered possibly the most up-and-coming team in the NBA. The future, for this young, bright, team was nowhere but up.

Two years, one all star (Brandon Roy), a number one draft pick (Greg Oden) and a likely 50-win season later, the Blazers have come even farther than expected. They sit 4th in the ultra competitive Western Conference standings, even though they remain one of the youngest teams in the NBA. Rip City mania is, without a doubt, back, shown by the Blazers 55 straight sell out games. And as I sit here, oozing with the pride a mother feels for her children, there is one thing that makes me happiest: the team is full of truly good people, the kind of people the great city of Portland is proud to call their own; the kind of guys who visit hospitals and speak at elementary schools and keep their name out of the police blotter. Just the kind of guys Portland was longing for. So, as I sit back and await the Blazer's next excting game, I nod happily as the the announcer roars through the radio:
'Oh, its good to be a Blazer again!'

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