Blog contest) Choosing a ticket plan. Official entry.
By Wayne M Kehler Posted in: Blazers, Clippers, Grizzlies, Jazz, Lakers, LaMarcusAldridge, NicolasBatum, Nuggets, Pacers, Thunder, Timberwolves, WesleyMatthews
Imagine for me that you are a car. A very small car to be precise. Now imagine you have secured to your rear bumper an extremely heavy, over packed trailer that you now have to pull all the way home, on flat tires. This was the way that I felt last season after the infamous goal tending call on Lamarcus Aldridge. That bogus call led to the eventual loss for the good guys and a 4 point win for the Thunder of OKC. I will never forget the atmosphere on the Max platform that evening at the Rose Quarter, as thousands of fans departed for the long journey home. Such disbelief among those in the crowd and rising tensions led to various expressions of frustration including a full on fight between a couple of Blazer fans. I know right. Trailblazer fans fighting Trailblazer fans after a loss really defines the level of rivalry. Once the smoke settled and the dust cleared, one thing was for sure, OKC is unequivocally Rip City's biggest rival in the NBA. Extending far beyond the I5 pacific northwest Supersonic rivalry days and endlessly into the future.
As you probably guessed at this point, the ticket plan that I would rank number 1, is infact the Rivals pack. Each and every time one of these eight teams step into the Rose Garden, Rip City wants and expects a fight to the finish.
This is the Rip City Racket.
In their return to the RG this season,the Thunder will have Hasheem Thabeet on their roster as well. Thabeet, in case you missed it, was a Blazer during the last meeting between these two teams. Thabeet was the 2nd pick in the 2009 draft and showed some potential during his brief stay here in Portland. Only time will tell if his departure to Thunder land ends up adding to the feud. Bright lights, the Blazers squad and a sellout Rip city mob eagerly await Durant and his Thunder January 13th.
The first game in the Rivals ticket pack brings the Clippers to town. I am delighted anytime Blake Griffin comes to Portland because I LOVE to Watch Lamarcus give him the business. (Griffin just cannot hang with Aldridge) Similar to building two robots and then watching them fight each other, former LA General Manager Neil Olshey will now sit back with Blazers owner Paul Allen and together observe the battle of machinery that he designed. The Clippers have a loaded roster and their key pick up this off season was Jamal Crawford. Man that stings. I remember helping convince Jamal to choose Rip city for days on Twitter. Hard to believe that it worked, then led to Jamal regretting the decision, opting out of his second year and leaving Portland for Los Angeles. With some hope, Jamal will shoot even worse in the RG wearing a Clippers jersey, November 8th.
On to Brandon Roy. Unbelievable. That was always the word best fitting the description of his game, but I never imagined the levels of disbelief and shock that would accompany him retiring and returning to the NBA as a member of the Timberwolves. I cannot say whether or not I will cheer for him. He will be wearing a different jersey but he is still "The Natural". If that isn't enough of a divide, the Wolves nearly plucked Nicolas Batum from us as well. Nearly. Close, but no toast. I bet Nic plays very well in this game because of it. Kevin Love is always a good test for Aldridge and even more so this season. Considering the fact that Love's minutes during this years Olympic Games in London would have been severely shortened, had Aldridge been healthy enough to compete, I would say Lamarcus has something to prove in this game November 23rd. The Timberwolves are also led by Head coach Rick Adelman, who spent 5 seasons in Portland as Head Coach 1989-1994.
The Pacers come to town January 23rd and the Jazz March 29th. Both games will be interesting. The Jazz always get more than they can handle from their former teammate Wesley Mathews, and the post battle between LA and big Al Jefferson never disappoints. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pacers plan to give Portland a heavy dose of their big man Hibbert when they come to town. Offering max money to Roy Hibbert and failing during free agency this off season, the Trailblazers now must watch and imagine what might have been, as the big man does his work for Indiana. Both of these match ups are not to be missed.
It is always pleasing to attend a Denver beat down and February 27th it happens again. Former Blazers Rudy Fernandez and veteran point guard Andre Miller lead the bench squad for the Nuggets. Winners of the last 7 homes games, I expect the Trailblazers will continue that trend this season despite Denver Head Coach George Karl's game plan. Why would this game be any different?
One game that could end up being pivitol happens March 12th when the Blazers host the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizz are led by Head Coach Lionel Hollins, who helped to win the one and only championship for Rip City in 1977. The Grizz will also bring with them two former Trailblazers as well, Jerryd Bayles and Zach Randolph. Z Bo and Marc Gasol can be very effective in the paint and this late in the season in March, I am willing to bet bricks to straw bucks that these two teams will be vying for playoff position in the Western Conference. This may get interesting.
The Rivals pack rounds out against the new look LA Lakers on April 10th. With playoff implications a likely factor make no mistake, this game has the potential to be the best game of the season. Everyone knows Dwight Howard and Kobe will be a problem and Pau Gasol may be a thorn, but my biggest concern with the Lakers goes by the name Steve Nash. If the Lakers do indeed find success with this new roster it will be because of Mr. Nash and his leadership. If history is any gauge, the Laker squad will continue the tradition and drop another one to the Trailblazers at the RG. The mob that is Rip City will be ready as always. BEAT LA!
When it is all said and done, I imagine we will look back in awe of what story lines unfold in Portland this season. We will look to the future with great anticipation of the rivalry games that are sure to persist, ever boiling over into simply next time.
Thanks for reading, Wayne.