An Early Present
How strange this has all been.
I know you've probably got your own adjectives, and most of them probably wouldn't be appropriate on this family-friendly site. I have to admit, I certainly had those moments too.
During the last lockout, when I was covering the Blazers for KXL radio (just prior to joining the organization), the 50-game season didn't seem all that bad to me, or painful or odd. You might remember it differently, but I've been trying to remember everything about that abbreviated season. I guess I'm doing that simply to know what to expect this time around.
Perhaps it's been so long my memory simply isn't as good. I do remember the back-to-back-to-back sets of games, and how compacted things were. But, perhaps because I wasn't looking for it, don't recall that the actual basketball was awful, as some are suggesting it will be for the next five months or so.
Honestly, I probably only have several memories of that season that really stand out- both having to do with the playoffs. I remember how dominant J.R. Rider was in the conference semi-final series against Utah. I then remember he and Jimmy Jackson ripping their jerseys off after clinching the series in probably an inappropriately jubilent celebration, considering they had simply qualified for the Western Conference Finals, and weren't about to hoist the trophy. The other memory is of sitting courtside at the Alamo Dome and watching Sean Elliot hit the Memorial Day Miracle, thinking that he had to be
out of bounds. He wasn't of course, and the Spurs went on to sweep the Blazers.
My point is, even though a couple of those memories aren't great ones, I don't remember the lockout part of things that well. It's unrealistic right now to think that this season won't be defined by the lockout. I get that. But, to some degree, I think once we get hip deep into the season it'll seem like the season.
Some people have asked me if I really and truly thought there was a chance we were going to lose the entire season. I absolutely think that was a possibility, and I've heard things were even starting to fracture on the very night they came to the hand-shake agreement.
So, being this was totally of my control anyway, I'm trying to focus not on what was taken from me, but what was given to me. That's not a bad attitude to practice in every part of your life, by the way.
It also struck me, and I'm as guilty of this as anyone, how quickly our worry and fret transfers from one thing to another. Literally, the morning after the tentative agreement came down, I went from wringing my hands over not having a season at all, to saying out loud to my wife (who gave me the Heisman) "what are we going to do about a bench this season?" I then started going over the roster in my head, thinking about each position and going over strengths and weaknesses. I couldn't believe how long it had been since I had done that.
In my mind, there are three very obviously keys to the early part of this season for the Trail Blazers. Of course, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden. But, also Raymond Felton. When you replace your point guard that usually gets top billing on the concern chart, so it's amazing that actually comes in third.
The guy I'm most excited to see? Nicolas Batum. I think the head start he has over the players who haven't been playing will be noticeable. It should be, anyway. He's had this determination and killer instinct over in France, and that was really his
team. Will that come with him to the states? Is he ready now to make the next leap? That's no longer a hope, but an expectation. He better
bring that with him or it'll be disappointing.
The Roy and Oden stuff has been beaten around so much lately you don't need much on that. They'll take their time with evaluating Brandon, of course. Greg? No idea. You can weigh in on those situations if you choose.
I don't mention LaMarcus Aldridge because he was so consistent last season there's no question mark there. No worry. He's still getting better.
It's great to be back, and to be planning. I couldn't ever imagine there not being a season, despite how close that was to being a reality. We had so many restrictions on us, as far as what we could say, and couldn't say, and then there was this gray area. Everyone was watching everyone, and stuff written here isn't in pencil, as you know. So, in short, I haven't been blogging much. That'll change now.
I love that fact that so many of you have been commenting anyway. I appreciate that more than you know. Now, it'll be a two-way conversation.
I'm also now in the Twitter world as well. I was really dragging my feet on that one, and I'm still very much a rookie. But, once the season starts this will be a very cool way to communicate with you immediately.
My Twitter handle is @blazermb. But, I'm still swimming in the shallow end on that one, so be patient.
You're the best. Thanks for still being here.