Top 10 Moments of 2009 Portland Trail Blazers
It will be the first time we have aquired home court in the playoffs in nine years, as well as the first time we have made the playoffs in six years.
Yet the 2009 Portland Trail Blazers started the season with the most difficult schedule in the league, lost their No. 1 Draft Pick Greg Oden to an injury in the first game, and it seemed that they would claw for the seventh or eighth place in the Western Conference standings or not be in the playoff race at all.
However Portland came out of the early schedule with a winning record, got their #1 Draft Pick Greg Oden back, and now have the sixth best record in franchise history and are tied with most wins at the end of the regular season since the 1977 NBA Champion Blazers.
As Keanu Reeves says: "Whoa."
For me, this season has been a long magical trip, one that I will one day look back upon and realize just how lucky I was to live in my rainy-dive bar-mini San Francisco-city in 2009.
I am a true Blazer fan and I am there for the team when they win or lose. I never got caught up in hating on the "Jail Blazers" (a term I think is racist and disgusting) and I even purchased a ticket for every single home came from 2006-early 2008 (once the Blazers went on that 13 game winning streak, it was harder to get a ticket for every game).
The Blazers are not just a great team playing great basketball, they are FUN to WATCH.
They have their own unique flavor, like the 2006 Phoenix Suns did under their run and gun offense, the 2002 Sacramento Kings had with their small town pride, or even the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers with their Iverson vs. the World storyline.
Since none of those teams won the title, I would rather compare them to the 2008 Boston Celtics, whose glorious veteran rush gave Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnet their first "It's about time thank you God!" NBA rings.
Allow me to recap the top ten moments of this historic season.
10. Preseason WHOOPING of the Sacramento Kings
Even though it was just the first game of the preseason, on 12-7-08 a sold out Rose Garden gets their first taste of what lies ahead as Rudy Fernandez and Greg Oden's debut turns into the first YouTube highlight sensation of the season in a 110-81 route against the lowly Kings. Thus it began...
9. Defeating San Antonio in First Home Game of Regular Season
The only time I ever saw Tim Duncan slump around and Tony Parker do that "what fowl?" shrug was on TV, until 12-31-08 when the Trail Blazers put on a gritty fight and forced the four time world champs to use such body language.
I was there! In a game that went down to the wire, Spurs forward Michael Finley missed a wide open shot at the buzzer to give Portland a 100-99 victory. How did he miss? Portland got in his head. That's how.
8. A Sunday Afternoon Romp Against The Detriot Pistons
On 12-30-08 the Portland Trail Blazers played an early afternoon game on the road against the Detroit Pistons. They were in control the entire time, and forced Rasheed Wallace to slam the ball down in frustration. Blazers 96-85 win was the sort of game Portland would have lost in seasons past...but not now.
7. Steve Blake's Three Point Shot Kills the Raptors in Toronto
Just one week later, on 1-7-09, another early Sunday game on the road ends as Steve Blake drains a game winning three. Blazers win 98-97, go 4-1 on their five game road trip, and whispers around the league are this team means business...
6. Blazers Defeat the Indiana Pacers in Dramatic Fashion
On Draft Day 2008 Portland traded Jarrett Jack to Indiana. On 3-4-09, Portland rallied from behind against Indiana in the fourth quarter, leading by two with only seconds remaining.
Jarrett Jack had a chance to claim his revenge with a wide open three, but he misses and the Blazers defeat the Pacers at home 105-107 to end their longest losing streak against any team in the NBA. Go Blazers.
5. Brandon Roy's buzzer beater kills the Knicks
Brandon Roy made a lot of great shots this season, the game winner against the New York Knicks turned into a poster child for our season. On 2-8-09 the Blazers were down by one point with four seconds to go.
Brandon Roy drove to the basket and put the ball up. As he let go there was a startling second where it looked as if the ball would not roll in our favor. But it did. Blazers win 109-108 while Brandon Roy and Travis Outlaw embrace in mid-court.
Their celebration is now an epic image of our success.
4. Brandon Roy drops 52 points against the Phoenix Suns
For far too long the Phoenix Suns bullied the Blazers. On 12-18-08 the bullying came to an end. With Greg Oden in foul trouble, the Suns went up by twelve points. Brandon Roy heroically rallied his teammates with a performance that Charles Barkley declared the "best individual performance on NBA on TNT."
Brandon Roy scores a career high 52 points, none more dramatic than his final three point shot, and the Blazer shock the Suns, the League, and the world.
Check the YouTube highlights of THAT game.
3. LaMarcus Aldridge HUGE 3rd Quarter Versus The Spurs in San Antonio
How can I not give props to the astounding play of LaMarcus Aldridge? On 4-10-09 the Blazers were down by over twenty points to the San Antonio Spurs, in San Antonio. But Portland rallied back in one of the best comebacks I have ever seen to draw the game within two at halftime.
The Spurs go up ten in the third and are preparing to blow us out...but LaMarcus Aldridge makes one sweet basket after another to silence their elders in San Antonio with a 95-83 victory that proves why he is one of the most underrated players in the league. Next year, make him an All Star.
2. Rudy Fernandez Scores 5 Points in 1.5 Seconds
Could there have been a more poignant microcosim of where the Blazers are today than on 3-26-09 when Rudy Fernandez did a sweet lay up on a lob from Sergio Rodriguez, then stole the ball on the inbounds pass and swished his trademark three at the buzzer to end the third quarter against the Phoenix Suns?
Portland has scored 100 points at the end of three quarters, and went on to whoop Phoenix 129-109.
Sorry Shaq, for all the grief you've caused this city it was our turn to lay a little damage to you.
1. Brandon Roy hits the three with 0.8 Seconds Left to Defeat Houston
Was there a better shot made in the NBA this season? On 11-6-08, in the greatest game I ever attended, Brandon Roy hit what should have been the game winning shot in overtime. The Rose Garden was on fire with celebration.
But Yao Ming scored and was fouled, putting his team up one point with 0.8 seconds remaining. I know this sounds strange...but I had no doubt in my mind we were going to score. None. Y
et there was this silence in a room full of 20,000 plus people as Brandon Roy caught the inbounds pass...lobbed it in the air...and up it went...a rainbow arch...getting closer...closer...suddenly the buzzer goes off...the red light appears on the backboard...and the ball swishes in.
Simple as that. Nothing but net. Now the celebration is not a fire, rather it is an explosion big enough to create a galaxy.
And is that not what happened with that shot?
Has a new galaxy not been created?
A galaxy known as Rip City Uprise?
The Blazers have finished the NBA Season in glorious fashion.
We have silenced all of our deadliest enemies and ugliest critics.
In a few hours we will know who Portland goes up against in the first round of the 2009 NBA playoffs.
I cannot wait.
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