“Ugh, that trade is going to kill our playoff chances this season…but I know GW will be fully appreciated by those knowledgeable fans in the Rose Garden”. The “our” in that quote was the Charlotte Bobcats. I found out about the trade as I was 2 hours into a 7 hour roadtrip from Charlotte, NC to a suburb of Nashville, TN to help coach my son’s Junior Charlotte Rollin’ Bobcats wheelchair basketball team.
My cell phone started buzzing more than a bumblebee’s wings in the spring time. I literally pulled off the highway to check a combination of voice mail messages, texts and emails from friends, I was worried at first, thinking my wife or daughter must have been in an accident, or worse; what other reason would there be for so many messages so quickly. “GW is gone”….”they traded away our heart and soul for salary relief”….”we just cut a bunch of players”….”GW and Nazr are gone and 3 other players have been cut”….”we are getting 2 first round picks, no we are getting 2 second round picks”…I was disappointed. I’ve been a season ticket holder for the last 5 years and the trade seemed to be a significant obstacle towards getting back to the playoffs in 2011.
In hindsight, the trades that occurred a few minutes prior to the trade deadline involved a 1 player for 3 players + 2 draft picks trade involving GW and a 1 player for 2 players trade involving Nazr Mohammed (headed to Oklahoma City). The Bobcats planned on waiving at least one of the incoming players in each trade, but NBA trade guidelines dictate the trade must stand alone by itself, so the Bobcats also had to waive 3 additional players (Derrick Brown, Dominic McGuire and Sherron Collins). After the dust settled, the Cats had 2 1st round draft picks, the TVG, an upstart utility Forward in Dante’ Cunningham and DJ White from OKC, and they were able to resign Dom McGuire (but the Knicks signed Derrick Brown to foil the Cats plan of bringing him back).
Over the coming weeks, I was out of town and unavailable to go to every home game, which allowed me to be on the “Bobcats Live Chat” more frequently then the norm (which was every away game). What I noticed in the ‘wake’ of the drafts were these die-hard Blazer fans (Kass, TG, Madam O and Kylie to name a few) that were so torn by the trade from the Blazers perspective, that they wanted to make sure the Charlotte fans appreciated “THEIR” players. Ironically, that’s exactly how I’ve always felt about Gerald Wallace. Even in the last game of the Blazers' season, RipCitySarah inquired of the Charlotte fans on the Blazers Chat “will Gerald come back from this injury”..lol..uhm, YES!
What had evolved from that February trade date, through the late March/early April playoff run for both teams, was a combined energy towards a common goal…supporting both Charlotte and Portland in their respective run towards the playoffs. For the Cats, there were too many injuries and too few games to get the newest players acclimated to their new roles (of getting significant minutes). Portland was a different story, the team seemed to be jelling at exactly the right time, dominating the top Western Conference opponents after March 1st.
I don’t remember which Portland game was the first one I joined the Live Chat, but it didn’t take long for me to become a regular attendee. And then I started watching Up and Adam, Sportslandia and Just Casey. I had seen the team play enough to see the pro’s and con’s of various lineups, 3 goggles are contagious (ask Camby) and each of the top 7 players had great games while I was watching: Nico beating San Antonio, Roy’s Game 4 comeback, Camby’s father-time rebounding performance vs Dallas, Miller Time just isn't something to do with beers anymore, Wesley’s 3goggle display in the 1st quarter vs Dallas, GW’s last game (WOW) and I’d have to use my hands and feet to the L-Train to count them up since the trade deadline.
#UpRise #RipCity. I’m not sure how many times I used those two items in twitter posts over the last month, but it was a definite sign that I had evolved into a fan of the Portland Trailblazers. As Kasey (Kass for all you Blazers fans) and I banter back and forth that we’ve agreed to pull for both team 80 games a year, with the exceptions the 2 times each season when Charlotte plays Portland. Maybe Casey will let me be a guest on his show the morning of the game in Charlotte next season.
But the part of this blog that I want to hit home is how welcoming the UpRise movement has been to me and other Charlotte fans. We even get ‘bold’ on chat, which really helped the exchange of ideas and comments. Other friendships have been created (Patch, Albert, Herr, Anees, Jules, Sarah, SarahX, Greg, Dan, Dustin, Casey, Justin, Insert more names here______, etc.) and I’m very envious of how spoiled the media/web/tv departments have made the Blazer fans. Seems like during the season, on a game day there are 4-5 shows, and at least that many blogs..that is truly FANtastic.
So I’m over the disappointment of the season, I’m…disinterested in the remainder of the playoffs, and hopeful the PDX and CLT have productive drafts and Free Agency dealings this summer. AND if there is a lockout, it is critical that the Bobcats/Blazers games are not cancelled. They need to be played so the Bobcats can win both and I can retain some bragging rights, because I KNOW RipCity will be a top 4 seed next season, and I will be front and center as much as the time difference allows supporting the team I have truly grown to Love (just like I love the Bobcats).
Coming soon…blogs about the evolution of Teamship in PDX(and an explanation of what it is), attending the 2010 NBA all-star game, and how I’ve been a fan of the Charlotte Bobcats for nine years even though they’ve only been playing for 7 years.