Dec 20

The Gift That Keeps on Giving- Perspective

By mikebarrett

It's the week of Christmas. The Holiday Season lasts much longer than this, of course, and is such a crazy time of the year. It's been an especially wild month or so given our schedule, and all the travelling we've done. Perhaps it also feels scattered because of the state of the roster, given all of the injuries, and all of the uncertainty.

But, with all that being said, here's the one thing the holiday season always gives me- perspective. What a great word. I've got a great wife and two healthy children. That's as blessed as you can get, and even though I don't take as much time as I should to give thanks and appreciate everything like I should, I do realize it.

Here's another word that always comes along this time of year- advent (stick with me here). Yes, you're probably thinking advent calendar, and something that's related so closely to Christmas. Advent is from the Latin meaning adventus, or “coming.” It's also all about anticipation- another great word. Better than the memory, better than the actual experience, it's anticipation. It's the practice of looking forward to one thing or another.

We all know that there is a huge difference between anticipation and expectation. Maybe it's difficult to separate to the two, I don't know. Usually, when you anticipate you automatically have an expectation of how things are going to unfold.

If you would have told me before the season that we would have lost all of these players to injury, lost a huge influence and friend in Coach Luke, lost six fourth-quarter leads, and would be sitting at the .500 mark in late December, I probably wouldn't have taken it very well. But, you know what? I'm probably more excited about the future, right now, than I've ever been.

What? How can that be? Isn't the sky falling? Isn't Brandon Roy finished? We haven't pulled the trigger on a hastily-concocted seven-player trade yet? Call me Joey Blue Skies, if you will, but the panic button is dust-covered, and my confidence remains high. And now, we can get into some nuts and bolts.

The Trail Blazers, at this same point last year, were 16-12. As of today, the Blazers are 14-14. Last year the team had played 14 road games, six back to backs, and had been on two road trips of four games or more. And, that team had Greg Oden for 21 games, and a very healthy Roy. This season, just two games behind last year's mark, the Blazers have played 16 road games, eight back to backs, and have been on three road trips of four games or more.

I realize those are just numbers, and perhaps can be considered obscure points. It's also stuff people don't want to hear as they wring their hands and demand a total house cleaning (ala Orlando or Phoenix). Am I naïve? Is this just being unrealistic? Or, am I just applying perspective? I know you've got your own strong opinions.

Here are the root things that I lean on during times of instability and worry (professionally speaking here). The Trail Blazers have an owner who is incredibly passionate about his team. He has invested heavily in his Blazers and is emotionally embedded. He's recently made big changes to his leadership team. He has a president and general manager in place who bring a unique skill set to the game. They focus less on what's being written and more on what's to be done. I'm close to this situation, and I can tell you that no one cares more than Mr. Allen. I know. I've talked to him too.

Rich Cho is different. I've gotten to know him pretty well. He doesn't just talk, he listens. He's patient, he's analytical, and smart. And, he's been incredibly active in the last couple of weeks in an attempt to make the Trail Blazers better. How do I know? I asked him. I had to ask him. Get it? Exactly what has he been doing, and who has he been talking to? I asked. He just smiled. I wanted rumors. I wanted hypotheticals, and I wanted scenarios. Nope. Wrong guy. Cho is loyal and respected around the league. He's never going to show his cards. And, that's exactly what we want.

Given all that we've been through in the last two seasons, the last thing I want is a trade just to make a trade. I'm sure Cho could have already done that if that's what was needed. That's what gunslingers do. I'll take Cho. Did you really want Gilbert Arenas? We've been down that path a few years back. That didn't work so well, did it?

Also, don't make this mistake of thinking that because you're not hearing constant rumors that someone is sitting on their hands. Don't be fooled by the notion that obvious activity means productivity. And everyone has an unnamed source that knows more than us, right? Sensational journalism makes for great copy, but it doesn't always stand up to the fact checks (Bob Whitsitt and the penny? Never happened. That's straight from his mouth).

If you've truly lost all faith, and are ready to burn this to the ground, you've got my sympathies. I'm thankful for the realist Blazer fans who have always held the organization accountable. You should. It's huge that Saturday night marked 127 consecutive sellouts at the Rose Garden. Our fans get national credit for being the best fans in the NBA. They are also some of the smartest.

Rather than search for immediate gratification, that may or may not last, I know most are comfortable with taking the long way home. Or, at the very least, the well-thought out, and carefully-planned way home.

At this time of the year, that means I'll open every little (and seemingly meaningless) door on the advent calendar, before I get to #25. That's the gift of perspective. I hope we all find that under the tree next weekend.

Previous Story: Portland Survives Again
Next Story: LaMarcus 2.0


  1. Incredible post MB.

    Thank you for perspective.

    by sarahhecht on 12/20/2010 4:50 PM
  2. Glad someone can see through the haze. Adversity happens, its inevitable. But what matters is how you handle that adversity; do you freak out and make wholesale changes? Or can you see the light at the end of the tunnel, even if the tunnel just got a little longer? I'm glad this team hasn't just up and flipped everything. Brandon can still come back and be the Roy of old, only time will tell. And Greg Oden could come back after next season and never be hurt again. You never know. And that's what is so great about this thing; you don't know what's going to happen next. Do we get sick of the injuries and nagging problems, sure, we wouldn't be human if we didn't. But just the possibility of what could be keeps this thing called sports in perspective.

    by Richard Ackerman on 12/20/2010 5:18 PM
  3. Great post. Agree with almost everything. But how long are these games going to continue to be considered "sell outs" when there are literally 1000's of empty seats many/most nights? And it's clearly NOT just people not showing up, as there are entire chunks of rows in some sections with no people (those aren't no-shows, those are not-solds). How do these keep qualifying as sell-outs? And does it have anything to do with the continued justification by management to not do something about the Comcast situation? Didn't Larry Miller promise that we wouldn't go into LAST season without having this situation resolved?

    by blazersam on 12/20/2010 5:19 PM
  4. "The Trail Blazers, at this same point last year, were 16-12. As of today, the Blazers are 14-14. Last year the team had played 14 road games, six back to backs, and had been on two road trips of four games or more. And, that team had Greg Oden for 21 games, and a very healthy Roy. This season, just two games behind last year's mark, the Blazers have played 16 road games, eight back to backs, and have been on three road trips of four games or more."

    You put into words EXACTLY what i have been thinking the last few days. so many people are so quick to just jump ship and tear the team apart. Thank you for bringing those people back down to Earth. Such great perspective MB.

    by Cristi on 12/20/2010 5:38 PM
  5. I totally agree with all of this and think our team is in pretty fine shape heading into the future and I don't want any changes made unless it is one that will only bring in players that want to play here and can play here at high levels for years to come. Portland should run it's organization as a place for high-class, hard-working individuals who don't care about just themselves. Just like the individuals in the great city of Portland.

    by Andrew Gnaneswaran on 12/20/2010 5:46 PM
  6. Great stuff.

    I'm a trailblazer fan who has no loyalties to the State of Oregon or the west coast whatsoever. I've never been there, probably wont visit there anytime soon, and will likely never live there.

    I live in New Hampshire, and the reasons my favorite team is the blazers is a long story, but if someone who is supposed to be cheering for the Boston Celtics (me) sticks with the blazers through the tough times, I'm sure everyone in Oregon can as well.

    The only thing that sucks about being a Blazer fan in New Hampshire is that #1. I have to use league pass which costs some serious cash, but hey... I guess I'm financially invested in the team in a way. #2. I can't watch the Mike and Mike broadcast during every game.

    Be happy that you have a team. (Sorry to the Seattle fans for that one)

    by beover on 12/20/2010 5:53 PM
  7. The right words from the right man. I won't lie, I've hit the panic button when my emotions were high after a loss that we should have won. It's what us fans do, and we're the best, the most emotional.

    However, I did hear that we offered Batum and Joel for Iggy. I would love Iggy on the team, but at some points, it would be nice to hear from Cho. What are his plans? Poker faces are always a pain.

    Something we also need to find under the tree is patience as well. I think people are giving up on Roy too early. No one had a problem after his performance in Phoenix did they? It wouldn't feel right to see Roy wearing a different Jersey than a Blazer jersey. It wouldn't feel right being upset that he made a shot in the Rose Garden.

    by Herr on 12/20/2010 5:53 PM
  8. Finally...a post that covers my thoughts. We have a good team that has dealt with adversity and alot of it. I really believe in the phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and I think we will see our team play some very productive basketball in the upcoming month. Please, no trades and no rumors...I actually hate reading through those threads because I feel like Blazer fans turn their back on the team at the first sign of trouble. Faith Blazer nation...FAITH!

    peace out,

    by daddylogan on 12/20/2010 6:12 PM
  9. I know!@#$!

    by occassia on 12/20/2010 6:32 PM
  10. Mike:

    I was tought that it is great to anticipate a coming event. It is when you start planning the outcome is when you start getting into trouble with expectations. That is why I look forward to all the BB games but I don't plan the outcome.

    by Hg on 12/20/2010 6:37 PM
  11. Nice perspective.

    by Ancientone on 12/20/2010 7:07 PM
  12. Awesome post Mike. One of your best yet. Thanks so much.

    by Anees on 12/20/2010 7:46 PM
  13. Good piece, Mike. I agree with perspective and patience are called for. It's also true that the Blazers have played poorly on the road and have at times looked atrocious. Much worse than I remember them looking early last year, even though the record is only 2 games worse than a year ago. So unless the team that is playing well at home (esp. the bench) starts showing up on the road, this is a .500 team and probably not a playoff team. And the team will need a healthy Roy or Oden if it wants to compete for championships. That hardly looks likely right now. Short of that, Cho does need to make moves to make the team more consistently competitive and return hope to the fans. Patience yes, but also action is called for on the player movement front.

    And while you're calling out a certain Oregonian columnist, why don't you try to put the rest the accusation that Cho and the Blazers are pawns of the Vulcans. Or is there more truth to that claim?

    by blazerich on 12/20/2010 9:56 PM
  14. interesting piece about Cho. As long as he helps put the right pieces together, i don't care if you're a mute.

    by blazerdarren77 on 12/20/2010 10:04 PM
  15. We're not worthy, we're not worthy! Great post Mike, extremely great! The way you tied "advent" into the end of your post was masterful. I walk away facing you and my hands waiving up and down in unison saying "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy." A huge thanks for a great perspective on this young season!

    by Kraydayz on 12/20/2010 10:05 PM
  16. Mike,

    Will you please take over the 12pm - 6pm time on 95.5? Thanks, I look forward to it.

    David M

    by davidmarkham on 12/20/2010 10:37 PM
  17. I'm with you all the way on this one. I know the bad news on injuries has hit people harder than it might have because of the "not again!" factor, and because of the danger that key players may be unable to come back. I know the East Coast trip was a nightmare, and hammered home all our inner doubts about the Blazers. But when a team loses so many players at once and still goes on a three-game win streak it tells you something about them. Yes, there's the old "character" thing to be sure, but what we also see is that there's more talent on this team than we realized. It may seem cold, but I've always enjoyed watching the team when there have been injuries, because I get to see what players can do who would otherwise be buried on the bench. Would we have know Wesley was this good if he had stayed buried behind Brandon? Could Patty Mills become the next Aaron Brooks? Obviously he can't, if he doesn't even get a chance to try. Can Rudy make them forget Manu? Put him in the right situation and it sure seems a lot less absurd than it did when he was just a guy who came in to shoot threes. (Isn't it nice to have a shooting guard who can deliver the ball to the hole on a pick-and-roll?) And of course, I'm happy I no longer have to be like Cato the Elder on LaMarcus. He was the old Roman who used to end every speech with the statement "Carthage must be destroyed." My version was "LaMarcus needs to be the man." Now he is, and everybody knows it, so I can shut up and enjoy. I know there will be many tough games ahead--we've been racking up the wins at home against bad teams that are almost as injury-riddled as we are--but I still think this team has discovered some valuable things that will carry over. Once Marcus and Joel come back I suspect we'll discover that we've got a genuinely good team. If there is a big trade, I suspect it will be driven more by the need to deal with the future impact of expiring contracts than by fear over gaping holes in the team we've got right now. I've occasionally longed for moves in the past, not because I get starry-eyed about players on other teams, but because I thought we needed to clear away pieces that didn't fit my notion of what the Blazer's needed to become. But right now I'm happy with the guys we've got, if we can just get a few ankles and shoulders healthy. We've got players who work hard on D, who move and pass and look for one another, whose games complement one another nicely. We've also clarified the pecking order and know who our main man is. I won't even grumble too much if Brandon comes back, as long as he plays the way he did his last game: picking his spots and deferring to LaMarcus. Speaking of whom, did you notice the most impressive part of his great line tonight? Not the 66% shooting, the six offensive rebounds or the 13 defensive ones, or the solid padding of blocks and assists and steals, but the nice round zero in the turnover column. The team as a whole had only 10. Keep racking up a 27-10 assist-to-turnover ratio, and we'll soon have enough wins to entice those extra-panicky fans off the ledge.

    by Islander on 12/21/2010 12:52 AM
  18. Thanx ,MB.Alsothatwas a cute story on Up and Adam about foolin yer son about what day is christmas,even tho he has the advent calender.
    We have shown our "fight in the last few games.One thing I can say about Sarge is just when you want to count him out,he seems to rise above.We are without a few players, but the ones we have are playin their hearts out.Weley money ,LMA,Rudy have all been outstanding.There is still much to be excited about,considering all the adversity.

    by DowntownVinnie on 12/21/2010 8:57 AM
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