manjoseph's Blog


Aug 27

Do you remember? Recall that one time a Mr. Brandon Dawayne Roy heaved a prayer (well, a prayer to us mortals, but in his minds eye was nothing but a mere layup) that delicately, beautifully, and triumphantly caressed the pure white net en route to a swishing buzzer beater against the Houston Rockets? I remember. I remember because the second I saw him catch the ball about eight feet away from the three-point line, I thought to myself that, "If he makes this, he will save our franchise." On November 6th, 2008, Brandon Roy did just that, much to the chagrin of the Houston Rockets. 

We all know what happened years after that triumphant moment when Roy made the shot and untucked his jersey in a catharsis of game-winning greatness. Cruel fate decided to steal yet another Portland limb, and left us with the meager shards of what could have been had B-Roy stayed healthy. But, as diabolical as fate can be, she gave us one last token of the man who will always be adored among Trail Blazer faithful. 

The Dallas game. Game Four. 2011.

The fourth quarter. 67-49, the blue team. There goes the season, once again. So everyone thought. Everyone but Mr. Roy.

His beautiful blender of floaters, fade-aways, and drives not only channeled a former healthy version of himself, but a former healthy version of himself that played with such unparalleled excellence -- excellence that hasn't been seen in the likes of Rip City since the days of Mighty Mice, Our Vydas, Glides, Worthy Ducks, and Uncle Cliffords. He led Portland to perhaps the most triumphant comeback in the last ten years, complete with the rare deliciousness of a clutch four-point play to boot. 

Both scenarios are testaments to Roy's legacy as a Portland Trail Blazer. But one easily stands taller than the other, no question. Roy's high-arcing, net-grazing gem from the Houston game is exhibit "B," but it is his immaculate symphony of greatness from Game Four of the Dallas series in 2011 that is wholeheartedly his exhibit "A" concerning the trial of his greatness. 

The point of my diatribe looms near. Greatness is greatness, real recognizes real. However, Brandon Roy's legacy will stay with the Dallas game, and not the Houston game, for several reasons. Yet the most ominous of reasons as the aforementioned being his crowning achievement is the stakes of the contest, and the high-level aura of what that particular game embodied. 

It was against Dallas, a longtime tormentor of Portland playoff pursuits. It was basically a must-win, even though in hindsight the Blazers fell to the eventual champs. And it was huge. Portland needed that win.

In other words, it was a big game. 

Big games are what separates the heroes from the sidekicks. They are the embodiment of a future legacy, the stage where pressure is welcomed, not feared. Big games form hometown heroes, and are recounted to wide-eyed youths years later in an almost fairy-tale like rendering. 

Which is why the Big Game Package is leaps and bounds the package to acquire compared to the other options. 

The hopefully promising rearing of Damian Lillard as the playmaking successor to Brandon Roy will be crafted during the big games. The schedule speaks for itself. A preseason appetizer against the Denver Nuggets is almost too perfect of an opponent for Rip City. Ty Lawson is on the menu for our young point guard, and the rest of that team is no joke. But again, it is only the preseason.

The electric loathing that is felt when our fellow Purple and Gold decked West Coasters come up north to visit us caps off what will hopefully be a building season. What better way to cement a legacy from our rookies than a spectacular showing against the hated rabblers known affectionately among Portland as "BEAT LA!" We all know what Mr. Aldridge, Mr. Batum, and Mr. Matthews are capable of, if Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard more than hold their own, it will be a nurturing joy to witness the growth of two possible franchise cornerstones excelling in a big game. 

Big games are not necessarily enjoyable for the quality of opponent that comes to town (although seeing the likes of Derrick Rose, Tim Duncan, Aaron Brooks [!], LeBron James, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Deron Williams, Jeremy Lin, and Kevin Durant does help), rather they are cherished for how the hometown team fares against a quality opponent. A victory in a big game does more than just add another W to the favorable column -- it builds and builds and builds upon a legacy. A legacy of trust, greatness, and promise, all the applicable factors of resurrecting the likes of a torn Rip City. 

As a fan, I will never remember a game for the price of the ticket, or the day of the week it was on. No, I will remember the big ones. The big ones that not only featured marquee opponents, but which saw our very own Portland Trail Blazers go chin-to-chin with hardy foes despite the discrepancies of on-paper skill. The big games are the ones to look forward to, even though any moment of witnessing Trail Blazer basketball live is a joyous moment to bask in. It is the big ones that allow us as fans to witness the building of a team, for in the face of adversity, the true wills of teamwork, unity, and desire are reached. 

The Big Game package is the only package for me. To experience our rebuilding Portland Trail Blazers mold into what could be a great team for years to come will no doubt be a joy to watch, but to watch them do so in the big moment will be an unparalleled feeling of everything that accompanies the pride of being a member of Rip City, the greatest basketball city in all the towns in all the world.

I am a Trail Blazer. And I love my team. 


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