The Gift That Keeps on Giving- Perspective
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.