About halfway through December last year, when the Portland Trailblazers decided to start reeling off win after win, I had this strange thought: If the Sonics were to leave Seattle, I think I could become a pretty big Blazers fan.
Blasphemy you say! How can someone who cheered for Shawn Kemp, Detlef Schrempf and Gary Payton POSSIBLY cheer for the same team ‘Clyde the Glide’ Drexler played on? BLASPHEMY you’ll say. Well, it’s simple. The Sonics have sucked for the better part of ten years now. And with the Mariners – and especially the Seahawks playing fairly well over the past decade, my passions have sort of switched. That’s not to say I stopped being a Sonics fan, I just didn’t care to watch them lose every night with no promise of really ever improving.
But the Blazers … there’s a team I thought I could get behind if the Sonics were to leave. Brandon Roy is a University of Washington graduate. Nate McMillian played his entire career with the Sonics and even coached the team for a period of time. Paul Allen, the only reason the Seahawks are still in Seattle and not wasting away in L.A., is the owner of the Blazers as well. With all those Seattle ties, I thought of how easy it would be to shift allegiances.
Well, the Sonics have indeed fled, and so there I sat without a team to cheer for. Not entirely true … there’s always the Blazers.
Needless to say, I’ve been pretty stoked about the start of the new season. Portland has improved steadily over the past couple years from Western Conference fodder to actually semi-respectable. With Roy, Greg Oden and now Jerryd Bayless, I was anticipating an exciting season this year. Then I looked at the schedule the Blazers were dealt and cried. Just take a look at their first five games.
@ LA Lakers
In the first month of the season, the Blazers have 11 of 18 games away from home with road games against Detroit, Golden State, New Orleans, Orlando, Utah, Phoenix and the L.A. Lakers. Talk about a brutal schedule. It’s hard to get excited about a team that even though could be really good could also very likely start 0-5.
I really don’t understand how the people who make these schedules sleep at night. I know in the end it all evens out, but I don’t think it’s wise to understate the importance of getting off to a fast start. Meanwhile, let’s look at the first month for the Spurs. The Spurs will play nine of their first 16 games at home. They play Memphis twice, Chicago, the L.A. Clippers, Sacramento, Miami, New York and Milwaukee. Tell me, does a powerhouse like the Spurs really need the benefits of an easy schedule to start the season?
I’m not going to lie. No matter how difficult the Blazers’ schedule may look, I’m still going to be excited about the start of the season. But holy geez…