By Kassandra Posted in: AndreMiller, ArmonJohnson, Blazers, BrandonRoy, ElliotWilliams, geraldwallace, LaMarcusAldridge, MarcusCamby, Mavericks, NicolasBatum, PattyMills, RudyFernandez, WesleyMatthews
Andre, Nicolas, Brandon, LaMarcus and Marcus
It's three days removed from the end of the season and things are still sinking in. The best term I can think of to describe the season is -- and perhaps this won't be original -- a roller coaster.
As with most seasons, we've had our high moments and low moments. This year, however, it seems as though those peaks were taller and the valleys were deeper. We said goodbye to some players and we said hello to some others.
Once again, we were hit by the injury bug and once again we didn't complain. There was no time to complain anyway. We simply, as we had done the previous season, dealt with it. We were resilient and even more creative in shuffling lineups and signing replacements.
Some may point out the negatives and, yes, there were some. There were also a lot of positives. There were tough losses, but there were some incredible wins There were performances we'd like to forget, but there were incredible moments we will remember.
Blazers celebrate Andre's inbound and Nicolas' tip against the Spurs
Is there any one of us who will soon forget the Andre to Nicolas lob with under a second to go -- which followed two clutch free throws from Nicolas? To me, that's the single-most highlight of the year. Of course, you might single out Brandon's 21 points in the last 12:02 to lead our improbable comeback in game 4 against Dallas. That's a pretty darn good one too.
Perhaps the major storyline of the season was the emerging development of our players. It's common knowledge that LaMarcus took his game to another level this season. His numbers improved across the board. In addition to that, he took a huge step in terms of leadership when Brandon went out. The offense was reworked to make him the focal point. He took the proverbial ball and ran with it. There were times this season that he literally carried the team on his back. Despite being snubbed for league honors such as the all-star team and league's most improved player, he earned conference player of the month for February and conference player of the week twice.
Wesley showed why the Blazers pried him away from the Jazz with a lucrative contract. He improved his scoring average by 6.5 points over his rookie season and stepped into the starter's role admirably when we needed him to do. Patty, who wasn't signed until the day before the season opener, earned the backup point guard spot and turned in some memorable performances, quickly becoming a fan favorite. Andre and Marcus played like the cool and crafty veterans they are.
We said goodbye to some our friends, and hello to some new friends.
During pre-season, we lost Jeff Pendergraph to a torn ACL. Three days before the season opener, Jerryd Bayless was traded to the Hornets. Five games into the season, Fabricio Oberto was forced to retire due to a heart ailment.
However, the largest personnel change happened just seven minutes before the February 24 trade deadline. We parted ways with Joel Pryzbilla, Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks. Joel had been the longest-tenured Blazer at six-and-a-half years. Dante and Sean had been here for shorter spans, but had made their impacts with the team.
What we got in return was a high-energy, aggressive player who very quickly earned his nickname of "Crash." Gerald acclimated himself to his new team and created his own highlight reel and gives us optimism for the future.
We, as fans, were able over the course of the season to follow and become closer to the team than ever before. With the additions of Traibllazers.tv and this blogger network, we had four separate and official team websites by which to follow the team.
Videos became available and live shows began airing. A fan was able to watch a game one night, then interact on TBtv about the same game the next day with Up and Adam
and Just Casey
. If it were a game day, Just Casey
evolved into Chalk Talk
, a preview of that night's game.
We no longer just had news and message boards on the site. Now we had the addition of insight from both Blazers' staffers and we fans ourselves. As someone who enjoys various perspectives, being able to read all the different blogs -- and write my own -- was extremely welcomed.
There was another connection to the team -- on twitter. It started with a couple of the guys, and then spread. Patty was instrumental in getting about half the guys on the site. Over half of the players have a twitter -- Patty, LaMarcus, Wesley, Nicolas, Marcus, Rudy, Elliot, Armon and Earl -- in addition to a few departed Blazers (Dante, Jeff and Fabricio).
It's great to tweet these guys after the games and occasionally engage them in conversation, but the real treat is following their tweets to each other. Perhaps the most entertaining conversation between these players came the night before their game in Orlando (home of Disneyworld) when several of them discussed going out to search for a mouse. Of course, bowling night was quite humorous as well.
Marcus displays the three goggles in the playoffs
No season summary would be complete without mention of the three goggles. What began as a light ribbing between Patty and Rudy turned into a phenomenon. Before too long, other NBA players were doing it, then it became rampant in the NCAA tournament. For me, the culmination of the three goggles was when Marcus displayed them toward the Blazers bench after he made his own three in game 3 of the playoffs.
Seemingly countless new friendships have been made over the course of the season. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank TG, Kylie, Occassia, Albert, Cristi, Patch, Debra, Sarah H., Dustin, Shalamar, Grant, Dan and several others. Lest I forget Mike (BlockParty), Mega and McBeastie -- a trio of wonderful Charlotte Bobcats' fans who've made the Blazers their west coast team. A special thanks also to Adam, Casey, Justin, and Sarah X. and Greg from Sportlandia for the terrific hours of Blazer talk on TBtv. You all have made this season much more enjoyable; more than you know.
Talk of next year has already begun by some and I suppose that's only natural. I think we've got some time to concern ourselves with that. For the most part, there's nothing much we can do until the draft in late June (though I have no doubt the front office is busily preparing prospect profiles for that). We can't even talk to free agents until the beginning of July.
This all, of course, is dependent on the results of the collective bargaining agreement negotiations -- a subject I'm just plain not going to touch at this point!
For now, I plan on further reflection of this season. It certainly warrants that.
In Kassandra's Words will feature regular blogs throughout the off-season. Comments and questions are welcome and encouraged. Seasons begin and end, but our Blazers are forever. Please follow on twitter: @Kassandra227