Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Hey, Portland! Help TRP become a Blazer fan!

Now that I live in Portland, I think I need to re-start my dormant NBA love. If it's possible, that is.

I was a massive NBA fan (and especially Denver Nuggets fan) as a kid in the '80s. Loved that run-and-gun squad of Doug fun to watch. Alex English's silky jumper. Fat Lever running the point. T.R. Dunn's defensive stops. But sometime in the early '90s my NBA love fell apart.

I think I know why. With the advent of Phil Jackson's triangle offense, players stopped moving away from the ball. The game became all about isolation crap. I could almost hear the coach in the huddle: "Hey! You four guys go down there and stand still! Let the fifth guy take his man!" Ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

I remember trying to watch the All-Star game in around 2000. I got bored in a big hurry. I figured...gee, is it just that I'm an old fuddy-duddy, remembering a past that was never quite that good? It's a freakin' All-star game...I don't exactly expect poetry. I expect slop playground ball played by the best players in the world, which is a fun prospect. But so damn many people were standing stock still. So I popped in a tape of the 1984 All-Star Game, which my dad took me to in Denver. There, I saw people actually moving away from the ball...setting picks, working a real-live 5-man game.

It wasn't me. The game had changed.

Well, I'm in a one-team town now. And I want to be able to follow that team intelligently, if for no other reason than to gain the ability to talk to my co-workers about it.

This is where you come in. I need some help becoming a Blazer fan.

So, local folks, help me out. My NBA knowledge card expired in about 1994, and I've only paid tangential attention since. My Blazer knowledge is even less...I know Greg Oden is back and that Brandon Roy is a stud (watched him play HS ball in Seattle, actually). And now there's some guy named Fernandez, and Nate McMillan is the coach. That's literally it.

--What are some things I can look for early that will let me know this team is gelling and might have a shot at the playoffs?
--What are some things I can look for early that will let me know things aren't going well?
--Who are players that are fun to watch?
--Who appears to be having fun while they play?
--Who hustles the most?
--Who plays the best defense?

And finally--

--What are some backstories from the past few years about these players? (Current players only, please. I don't need Jail Blazer horror stories. But what are things that happened recently that will enhance my team-following pleasure?)

Please comment liberally and candidly.


Joe said...

I can't believe I'm the first to post, but... Oden actually went to class, did his own work, and was as nice as he seemed, at least according to the TAs for OSU's class on the History of Rock and Roll.

So I'm rooting for him.

Alison said...

Ditto everything Joe said about Greg Oden. I don't give a rat's patoot about the NBA, but my friends who taught him and Mike Conley said both were great to have in class, and when I met them (taking their final a week early because of the playoffs) they were both incredibly nice, and a hair bewildered at their own notoriety on campus.

pankleb said...

Watch out for the Blazers if ...

1. ... Fernandez and Rodriguez are caught trying to play defense. It may take a year or two for either player to succeed at playing defense -- right now, we just need to see an attempt.

2. ... early in the season, Outlaw looks like a really tremendous athlete who happens to be in great shape. Last year, he slacked a bit on the "be in shape when the season starts" thing.

3. ... Aldridge is a nightmare for other teams 50-60 games into the season. He seemed to get tired last year. Of course, the excessive double-teaming didn't help. Oden should free up Aldridge so that he doesn't turn into a jump-shooter (see Cliff Robinson and Rasheed Wallace for historical perspective).

4. ... Roy makes some awesome Youtube-able moves every week or so. I'm still blown away by a move he made last season. Out of this world.

5. ... MacMillan lets the fast break happen a bit more often, and he even smiles about it. At times, he has engaged in too much ball control, too much defense, not enough letting the kids abuse other teams with their athleticism. There has to a balance with young players. I hope he finds it.

6. ... Bayless shows us something. He scored a lot in summer league, but it was the typical, "I am a better scorer than all you guys" approach. Can he play defense? Can he distribute, or is he yet another undersized shooting guard? Watch out, this guy can move.

7. ... Przyzizbillabongilla finds another Damon. For whatever reason, Przybilla and Stoudamire had a special connection a few years ago. Damon and Joel ran the pick 'n' dunk together perfectly. It was practically unstoppable, and Joel had a nice run of double-doubles that year. On a rather lame team that still had some Jail Blazers, this became a late-season highlight.

8. ... Paul Allen lets his sportscasters speak the truth. Now that the Blazers are on Allen's FM sports radio station, it is even more important for the editorial reins to be loosened. Fans want their announcers and talk show hosts to be open and opinionated. The rah-rah stuff is tolerable at times, but the station cannot do this 24-7.