As the various packets that come with being a season ticket holder arrive in staggered increments, there has been a very confusing emotion attached.
This is rather stunning. Usually, I am quite juiced about the forthcoming season. I am chatting about prospects, arguing over how many wins, win margin, which players will improve, and reliving past glory moments.
Instead, this year I am wondering if I should sell a quarter season, a half season, or the entire package. Not only am I counting down the days until the first preseason game, I am actually wondering if I want to go to any games.
With a curious reaction like that, I sat down to work through what the problem is.
I still love basketball. I like to play it, watch it, discuss it, think about it, read about it. I spend time at many of the hot-spots...True Hoop, Basketbawful, Bleacher Report, Blazers Edge, Hoop World, and numerous others.
But I do not currently love BLAZER basketball.
It is singularly odd because they are arguably the best team they have been since the late-80s'/early-90s' glory days of Clyde the Glide Dexler, Terry Porter, Jerome Kersey, Kevin Duckworth, and Buck Williams.
The optimist in this Blazer fan believes Greg Oden will stay healthy, LaMarcus Aldridge will take a step forward, Brandon Roy will be Brandon smurfing Roy, and the wins will pile up in rapid fashion.
I believe anything short of 56 wins or more, a division title, and a trip to a minimum of the conference series would be disappointing considering the talent level.
I just do not care.
The team I had grown to love has been dismantled slowly but surely.
The first to go was Travis Outlaw. That one hurt.
Yes, I am well aware of the flaws Blazer fans overemphasize.
I am also aware that he was drafted by Portland, we watched him develop, and he hit arguably the most important shot of the past three years when his buzzer beater against Memphis helped the young team realize they could overcome adversity.
While Steve Blake was not drafted by Portland, he fit the team and culture well and was instrumental to the turnaround. He also took less money to come to Portland because he liked the team.
Bringing in guys like Marcus Camby and Wesley Matthews unarguably make the team better. With Oden and Camby, fan favorite and long-time stalwart Joel Przybilla is admittedly dispensable from a basketball standpoint.
The problem is that the character of the team has changed.
Now, instead of being excited about Blazer draft-day acquisitions and treasured veterans who carried the team through their growing pains, we are looking at "import-heavy" teams.
It changes my interest level.
I am not a blind Blazer fan. The organization holds a certain portion of my loyalty, but so too do the players.
It does bother me how the Rudy Fernandez situation is playing out.
It bothers me that guys like Outlaw, Blake, and Przybilla are not merely considered dispensable but are basically run out of town in the eyes of some Blazer fans.
It bothers me all the negativity thrown at LaMarcus Aldridge because he plays the new millennium style of game, with a great mid-range game and developing post game instead of being the new Karl Malone—a player, by the way, I always despised for his substitution of strength and charging without getting called for it in place of skill.
It bothers me that new General Manager Rich Cho is talking about another "major move" which presumably would mean Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Jerryd Bayless, or some rumors even say Oden would depart in favor of another import.
Now, as a Blazer fan, I am happy about seeing the team improve.
On the other hand, they are no longer as compelling a story in my opinion.
Instead of watching a two- to three-year period of acquiring young, talented players with the expectation of watching them play together for a decade, now we have a mish-mash of some of those players, some guys brought in for just a year or two, and a lack of continuity.
The net result is the more they change the team, the less I like it.
And the end result is that as the season approaches, my customary excitement and thrill-expectation meters are completely gone, only to be replaced by one thing.
If I stay lazy and fail to list the tickets, I will probably go the games. I will almost assuredly even enjoy them.
But it will be the enjoyment of going to a movie that turns out to be a serviceable comedy rather than a memorable laugh-inducer, in box office terms.
That makes me sad.
It also makes me wonder: How can a team with rising expectations bring lowered anticipation?