Bittersweet Rose Garden Finale
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.