For the Trailblazer organization, the path along this compressed season has seen them through many emotional and momentum affecting peaks and valleys. Not only has the team had to endure this, but their loyal fans and all of us in Rip city as well. With just a handful of games to be played in this regular season, and a spot in the playoffs possible for Portland, the proverbial time is now. Time to seize their rights to the post season and time to play the hardest. Time to "click" some would say. But what about the off season? I may not be in the majority but i am growing less concerned with the possible post season run, and more interested in the group of athletes and the cohesion between them come training camp 2012. Don't get me wrong, a post season is always exciting but what can be accomplished during this next off season could change Rip City for years to come.
Everyone knows that the possibility's during free agency will be huge especially with all of the
available money on Portland's books, and the draft could prove to be very fruitful for Portland.
This we all know and talk about, everywhere. On the list of needs there is written in bold letters:
GM and Head Coach. What a story it would be if Coach Canales was given the head coaching job. "what if" is a common phrase used too often in Portland, you know exactly what i am referring to. Simply put, pay Nicholas Batum and pay JJ Hickson, They earned their place. I do believe that the players and front office are important but i also believe that the system in place has a great effect on whether or not the players and coaches succeed together. Everyone is playing hard right now but this was not the case early on this season. After a good start and tumble, It took nearly fifty games for this group to come together. Next year I hope that the Trailblazers will find cohesion long before the first game of the regular season.
To envision that next season will start and end with a very special group of athletes all playing
and achieving together heights that will be unmatched probably sounds to you like fantasy. I am here to tell you that this year like any other, it is very possible. Author and cohesion expert Alvin Zander describes a group as a set of individuals who interact and depend on each other."A group is not merely a collection of people. The latter is a crowd." This is a simple idea and every team knows that you win and lose together, yet most teams in the NBA do not play together. The teams that do, usually win more games and have more confidence. What i hope this next off season will yield is a group of highly motivated and bonded players. How do we achieve this you may ask? Paintball war perhaps? How about a team building retreat?
Okay maybe a retreat is out of the question but I know that when the chips are stacked against you, you find out just who you are. That goes for an individual or a team. Whoever this group consists of next year, they all need a worthwhile experience that challenges and reveals them. A tough situation that instills trust in one another. An experience where leaders emerge out of instinct and progress. Regardless of what happens in the draft and free agency, I hope to see a group of guys who know their identity, who know the athlete to either side of them and have already passed through a storm together. My vision of what a good team looks like, is a family. So when the Trailblazers take the court for Fanfest 2012, I want to see trust. I want to see a family.
At the end of the season I wish to see but one thing, An upright crown on rip city's front lawn.
This is forever the goal, and next year the goal is once again possible.
-Wayne M Kehler, Rip City USA.