chris.barnes's Blog

chris.barnes

Aug 20

A response to "Blog contest: Which ticket pack is right for you?"

By chris.barnes
As much as I love the Trail Blazers and watch as many games as I possibly can on TV, I can rarely afford to attend games at the Rose Garden. I'm a college student living across the Columbia River in Vancouver and, for the last couple years, have only been able to afford tickets once or twice a year. With my limited budget, the Value Plan is definitely the one and only plan for me! This upcoming season will be my fifth consecutive year attending the home opener for the Trail Blazers (and yes, I'm very excited for Portland to have a crack at being the first team to beat LA!). I've been a Blazers fan for about the past dozen seasons (I'm only 18 years old so 12 years is a big portion of my life) and have been becoming more and more emphatically consumed with the Blazers every season since then. My love of the Blazers has slowly spread to a love of the NBA as a whole. Well... almost as a whole. I will never support the Lakers. This love of the game led me to develop a blog recently which has only encouraged me to watch more basketball. Being a Blazers fan for the past 12 years has been both a rewarding and punishing experience. Despite that, the Portland Trail Blazers have left me with incredible memories both at the Rose Garden and watching them on TV.
I remember watching so many amazing games on TV. I watched Game 7 of the 2000 Conference Finals and was devastated that we lost. That was the first season I really enjoyed watching the Blazers, and my six year old self felt, for the first time, what it meant to hate the man named Kobe Bryant. I watched the game against Houston in 2008 when Roy hit the 32 foot shot in overtime to win the game. I watched the game in 2011 when Batum tipped in the game-winner against the dominant Spurs. I watched the game where Roy scored 52 points against the Suns and was so glad I got to witness his greatest scoring performance live.
I remember attending Game 3 of Portland's 2009 playoff series against the Houston Rockets and subsequently winning our first playoff game in a long time. The emotion and energy in the building that night was astounding, and the cheers when we finally won a playoff game were deafening. I remember walking around outside after the game hugging random strangers who felt the same euphoria as me. The infamous "Beat LA" chant was yelled by many that night in the sudden excitement that we were once again a legitimate contender. I also remember the two Rockets fans sitting behind me slinking away the moment the buzzer sounded in an attempt to escape the mocking jeers of Rip City. I remember going home that night and thinking "This is the beginning."
My favorite Blazers memory was two years later during the now famous Game 4 of the 2011 playoffs against Dallas where Roy played "his last great game". I remember, halfway through the third quarter, myself and two friends sitting on the couch feeling dejected and wondering if we should go get Taco Bell instead of force-feeding ourselves a fourth quarter of pain. When Roy hit the three near the end of the third quarter, we all thought the same thing and simply looked at each other. We somehow just knew what would happen. The ensuing 12 minutes of basketball were the loudest I've ever yelled in my life. We woke up my friend's parents who, after seeing what was happening, forgot their anger and watched the last few minutes with us. I'll never forget that day, and every so often I go onto youtube and no matter how many times I watch the video, I get the same excitement and chills I got when I watched it live. Even when I just went onto Youtube to paste the link into this blog, I got sucked in again and watched all seven minutes. I loved Roy and was incredibly sad when he retired. even though he's not a Blazer anymore, I will find a way to be at the Rose Garden when the Timberwolves come to town.
We once attended a Celtics game with a friend of ours from Boston who had lived in Washington for 10 years and wanted to see Boston's Big Three when they first came to town. When he showed up in a Celtics shirt and hat, we went a step further with face paint, hair dye, and a 6'6" friend of our's with a mohawk who actually caused little kids to stare at him in fear and awe when he walked around outside the arena. When you only get to go to one game a year, you gotta show your passion as much as you can... 
All these games and memories helped me develop a close relationship withe the Blazers. I cheered with the rest of Rip City last season when Aldridge finally made the All-Star team, and and felt the pain when we missed out on Roy Hibbert over the offseason. I enter every season with a feeling of hope, anticipation, and excitement. After attending last season's home opener against a very good 76ers team, I felt optimistic. Little did I, and the rest of Portland's fans, know that the acquisitions of Gerald Wallace and Jamal Crawford would not be the edge we needed to get past the first round.
A few months later, after witnessing Portland's suicide attempt of a trade deadline roster change, I decided not to go to any games for the rest of the season. It was clear that the powers-that-be in Portland's front office weren't interested in trying to find success with McMillan and our current squad. Instead of keeping Nate, who had led coached the Blazers from the bottom of the league back to the playoffs, and getting rid of the discontented talent in Crawford and Felton (both of whom ended up leaving through free agency during the offseason), the front office sided with the players and decided to blow up plans for immediate success. At the time of the trades, I was a fan of Gerald Wallace and didn't see why we would get rid of him and not Raymond Felton or Jamal Crawford. I didn't see the fuss about New Jersey's first-round pick until a few weeks before the season ended when a friend told me that the NJ pick had a chance at being a top 5 lottery pick.
The last month of the 2012 season was the only time I ever rooted for the Blazers to lose. We weren't making the playoffs, so why bother trying to win? The increasing amounts of minutes for bench players such as Elliott Williams and Luke Babbitt showed I wasn't the only one to think that way. We all know what happened after that. New Jersey sucked just enough to maximize our profits. We got the 6 and 11 picks, and drafted Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard, as well as a second round pick named Will Barton who recently dropped 72 FREAKING POINTS in a pro-am game featuring DeAndre Jordan, Brandon Jennings, Kemba Walker, and Derrick Williams. I watched all of Portland's summer league games on TV and quickly became ecstatic about our future all-star point guard named Damian Lillard, who nearly led the summer league in scoring. After resigning JJ Hickson, who I came to like when he was given starter minutes near the end of the season, and Nicolas Batum, I was excited for our new team. With Leonard's potential to form into a solid center and an excited young point guard running our offense, I felt like we once again had a playoff caliber team.
When the Blazers released their schedule about a month ago, I saw that they had a really cheap ticket package on sale labeled the "value pack". $60 for 12 games. To me, that seemed like a gift from the heavens. Here I was, highly excited for the new season, and then I see a chance to make the Rose Garden one of my regular evening destinations. After convincing myself that I could afford to spend $60 on tickets, me and my friend were able to snag to final two tickets in the Tan section. Now obviously the games we will get to see aren't exactly in high demand. That's why its the value pack. If I had $200 to spend on tickets, I would've gotten the Big Game pack or the Rivals pack. Who wouldn't want to see Lebron James come to the Rose Garden instead of Chuck Hayes? Unless, you know, you wanted to see the Blazers win... in which case you'd probably choose the latter.
The Value Pack, since it is so cheap, is comprised mostly or teams that are neither playoff caliber nor showcasing a star rookie (Read: New Orleans Hornets). This package kicks things off with a preseason game against the Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, and the Utah Jazz. Other teams in the package include Cleveland, Washington, Toronto, Sacramento, Charlotte, Golden State, and the now Nashless Phoenix Suns and the new lottery contending Orlando Magic. The remaining four teams in this package, however, are legitimate playoff contenders that will provide quality talent at a ridiculously cheap price. Would you like to see the Mavericks for $5? I will on Jan. 29. How about Atlanta? Or Denver? Or Memphis? 
Even though none of the current superstars (other than Dirk Nowitzki) are included, the Value Pack offers names that will have a lot of potential for the coming years. Ty Lawson. Bradley Beal. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Kendall Marshall. Harrison Barnes.  Rudy Gay. Marc Gasol. Andre Iguodala. Josh Smith. The list is longer than you think.
As much as I want to believe in the quick fix one year turnaround for the Blazers, I simply can't talk myself into it. I don't think we're going to be a playoff caliber team. We're still really weak at Center and don't have a solid starter there. Our current lineup at PF and Center is less than exceptional: Aldridge, Hickson, Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver, and Jared Jefferies. Claver and Hickson aren't really tall enough to play Center (both 6'9"), and Jefferies is a below average player who probably won't see much playing time. That mean the bulk of the minutes at Center will be going to the rookie Meyers Leonard. Despite being the 11th pick and being good in college, I'm not expecting much. If Leonard is going to be a solid player, he'll take a year or two to grow into it. Same with Lillard, although I think that he will mold into the NBA game far more quickly than Leonard. 
I believe that while seeing big names and some of the best teams in the NBA can be fun, its not as fun when they're blowing your team out on your home court, which you'll probably get for half your games if you go for the more expensive "Big Games" plan. Does seeing Lebron and Wade sound as appealing when they're sitting on the bench for the fourth quarter while Portland is losing by 20 points? Maybe its a pessimistic idea, but if I watch that game at home, I can flip the channel and watch something else while not losing any money. When I go to the Rose Garden, I want to see a good game. It doesn't matter so much who we're playing against rather than what's happening. I'd always want to go to a game where we pull out a close game or win in overtime whether its against the Heat or against the Bobcats. I'm not at all saying that I think the Blazers will lose their games against the best teams (Indeed, we seem to have a knack for winning a good number of those games), but it's far more likely to be disappointed seeing the Lakers or Heat rather than the Wizards or Raptors. However, you're more likely to see a transcendent performance from Lebron or Kobe than DeMar DeRozan or Javale McGee. I guess it really depends on what you're looking for when you go to a game at the Rose Graden. I know that when I go, I'll get to sit down among 19,000 other avid Blazers fans who, regardless of the opposing team or the quality of their seats, are there for the same reason I am: to cheer on the Blazers. Win or lose. I'm not going to get to see any of the current superstars, and I probably won't get to see anyone score 50 points. That's alright with me though. Thanks to the financial-friendly value pack, I assure you that for 12 nights next season, you can find me at the Rose Garden. Section 325. Row M. Seat 16. I'll be in the middle of it all and cheering on the Blazers along with everyone else in that sold-out arena. Thank you to the Front Office people who decided to sell the Value Pack, and thank you to the guy (or gal) who gave up their hold on a ticket so I could buy mine. Rip City baby!

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