Apr 18

Bittersweet Rose Garden Finale

By sarahhecht
It’s been four years now since Portland fans knew when they were watching the final game of the Trail Blazers’ season in the Rose Garden. On this night—Fan Appreciation Night—this reality left one with a bitter taste in the mouth. That said, you don’t have to look too far for the sweet, and that “sweet” comes in the form of offseason potential.

As we head into the final stretch of games, all of which are on the road, it’s hard not to view tonight as the end of the season. Of course, we’ll be watching the final three games because this is our team and we stick it out through thick and thin, but I’ll be the first to admit my mind will be wandering forward to the sure to be eventful summer.

There is much to discuss on that front, but first we need to shake-off the disappointment of not seeing this Trail Blazers team come away with a win in their home finale.

“I feel bad with the way we lost tonight and coming out with these fans out here,” J.J. Hickson said. “They’re definitely our sixth man and even when we’re losing, they’re still cheering and they’re yelling at the top of their lungs. That’s something you can’t buy and that’s something you can’t take for granted. I’ve played for other teams where it’s not like that. That’s something I definitely look forward to when I come to the arena.”

Seasoned veterans of this fan base, players who have been here for years and even the newest additions all know the impact of the Rose Garden faithful. They also know the amplification of the 20,000-plus when the post-season rolls around. It’s unmatched. Not having that to look forward to brings a range of emotion from anger to frustration and that’s natural.

Nicolas Batum, a restricted free agent this summer, feels the lottery-bound Trail Blazers “disrespected” their fans by not making the playoffs. With that sentiment I wholeheartedly disagree. Disrespect and disappointment are very different. The first is blatant and intentional. In the basketball world it’s a complete lack of effort from top to bottom. On the other hand, disappointment is felt when a team underperforms but continues to persevere. We saw this perseverance from the Trail Blazers who battled through earning some monster-wins in Chicago and Dallas after their starting line-up was decimated on trade deadline day to position the team for a better future.

They kept playing.

This next statement from Batum is a prime example of the mentality the frustrated Trail Blazers—and all Trail Blazers fans for that matter—share. Even though they didn’t achieve all that was expected they’re still not giving up on the fans and the future is oh so bright.

“This is the first time in my life I’ve missed the playoffs, in seven years. So I don’t know this situation, but I don’t want to be on the court like tonight and the next three games on the road and lose by 30,” Batum said.

“No, I want to be on the court and try to make us proud.”

Three more until the sweet really begins.


  1. Good blog Sarah. Sadly, my season ended awhile ago when it appeared the team was out there for fun rather than out there for wins. My expectations went outside my window, leaving a massive hole, about 2 months ago when all the deals were made. The front office, and Paul Allen himself, said that they made these moves for the future. When your owner says that, you know the rest of the season is meaningless to them.

    It's been a fun ride, although the lack of defense has been killing me. It's going to be a huge, eventful season (I hope). It was a tough one, even tougher than losing opportunities to go far with lackluster play in the playoffs. But, I believe it's necessary. There were lots of low times, but lots of high times as well. We've got a future, a bright one, and we'll be back next season. You know I'll be there.

    by Herr on 4/18/2012 10:27 PM
  2. Hey Miss Sarah: It is a bitter sweet ending to the season.
    I love to win as much as you do, well almost as much. I haven't got to watch the game yet, but listened to Wheels and tone; it sounded like Jonny and Nolan played great, Thabeet played good, JJ got beat to pieces but still managed a great production, and Matthews made his threes and was very active, Babbitt will make a pretty good player if they keep playing him. So we lost with the bottom of our bench playing, but we won, trust and faith in our new players.
    Not a moral victory, but a well played training camp.

    by Hg on 4/18/2012 10:33 PM
  3. Hey Miss Sarah; didn't get to watch the show this morning Grandfather duties took priority.
    You know that I am always thinking Blazers, and I love the players more then I do the wins or losses. I hate to see players we have go for new players, for fear the new players will bring just a different type of headache. Like you felt when we lost GW. but then when we get a JJ Hickson, we can see his value.

    Our big needs for next year is a younger adequate center, a Elite PG or Shooting guard. and a consistent scoring and defensive bench. When Utah's bench came in we would gain on them, it was just that our bench couldn't match up with their starters.

    Therefore, the starting five that was on the floor last night with Babbitt instead of Batum and Maybe Elliot Williams in place of Wesley, we would have a pretty good bench. That would cut our needs down to about two players, an elite center and an elite PG.
    That would cut down the finding out who stays and who leaves.
    My pick for a full roster at this time is
    1. an elite PG, Jonny and draft pick
    2. Elliot Williams, Wesley, and Nolan as combo guard that can play both
    3. Nic, Babbitt and maybe Shawn Williams.
    4. LaMarcus, JJ, Joel Freeland
    5 Joel P, elite center, Thabeet as a project with Freeland and LaMarcus taking duty there also I didn't include either Ray or Jamal in my keepers, because I don't believe they will be here along with Craig
    This is subject to change as the summer goes on, but right now it gives my brain a rest.
    Sorry for the long post but this is a sweet bitter post.

    by Hg on 4/19/2012 1:01 PM
  4. I definitely agree that it was not disrespect, but rather disappointment at least on the part of most of the team. The guys like Nicolas who you can really tell want to win for the fans prove it. You could tell that he really did not want to disappoint the fans on their night. Not wanting to give up on the fans or themselves is all the Blazers fans want. Just bring that attitude back next year. :)

    by Niki C on 4/19/2012 4:29 PM
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