Not to sound greedy, but 4,249 minutes of basketball, the duration of the Portland Trail Blazers' 2010-11 season, isn't enough. Sometimes, like when you're sitting alone in a hotel room in New Jersey or when you're leaving the office at 2 AM knowing you have to be back by 9 AM, it feels like it's never going to end. But when the final buzzer sounds on the season, as it did Thursday night for the Trail Blazers, you wonder where those 4,249 minutes of basketball went.
Now the season is gone, and the future is uncertain, just as it always is. We look at future dates on a calender and tell ourselves that events will happen as scheduled, but there are never any guarantees. We convince ourselves that there are certainties, but there are not, or at least very few.
There will be time to remember the highs and lows of the 2010-11 season, and equal time to look ahead, but let's wait on that for a little while. I'd rather let the players and coaches, who sacrifice more than most people realize, give their initial thoughts on the season now that it's over.
"I thought we fought through a lot of adversity this season and we had an opportunity to do something special this year. The goal was to certainly get back to Dallas. I felt like if we could get back to Dallas, we could win that game. But we didn’t and we end the way we’ve ended the last two years, so we get in this summer and try and improve the team and get ready for next season.”
"It's tough. Very, very tough because my first year, got no experience. Last year we got a lot of injuries. This year, we've got a team. We've got a very good team. We were ready to beat this team and that's tough. That's very, very tough."
"Very disappointing, especially that way. Our goal was to get past the first round this year and we got a team to do it. We've got a team to do it. We struggle in Dallas. Game 5 we should get it, we lost it. That's very, very tough to end it that way."
"We do some pretty good things. Maybe the organization try to improve this team for next season. I hope we can finally get out of this first round because those fans deserve a team to win something. They deserve it. Even though at the end when we're down eight, six, they keep cheering for us. This town, this city, those fans, those organization struggle too long right now, so we've got to do something to get past the first round next year."
"We went through a lot of adversity, fought hard, came up short. Great group of guys, great team, great city, great fans. We've just got to make sure that next year we take care of what we need to in games that we need to throughout the 82-game season. Put ourselves in a better position in the postseason."
"I had a better season than I had last year. That's the goal. So next year, have a better season than I did this year."
"I'm just thinking about the loss and... what could we have done differently to give ourselves a better chance to get our of this round."
"I'm just thinking about this team. So much has changed and so much is going to change. Every time a year comes to an end you think about your teammates, your friends. You build bonds with guys. I just think about not seeing them. Seeing them tomorrow then everyone kind of goes home. It always takes about three weeks to say 'Man, we ain't got tomorrow' or 'I'm not missing anything?' Just kind of going through that feeling, like it's over. It's over. There's no more chances at it this year."
"Ask me tomorrow Casey. Ask me tomorrow."
“Definitely got better. I think I definitely got better this season. I grew as a leader this season and as a main option on the floor. Definitely have a lot of growth left in me to get better and come back better next year. I think this season was a big change for me as far as mentally becoming more of a dominant player, taking a big step and being that main guy every night. I felt like I got better this season but I want to get a whole lot better.”
“I’m excited. To be honest with you, when the trade happened, I was disappointed, didn’t know what to expect coming here. I knew they were a good team. They had all-star caliber players on their team. I didn’t know how I would be accepted as far as the players, but I think they did a great job of welcoming me, making me feel wanted, and inviting me into their family. This is all positive for me – gives me something to look forward to next season, a whole year with these guys."