For 17 years, I have hated the Portland Trailblazers, and with a valid reason too. Up until a few months ago, I bled the green and gold of the Seattle SuperSonics. Well, with my Supes not being in existence anymore and all, I'm doing the unthinkable- I'll be rooting for the Blazers come November.
For those of you back east who don't know or care about the great Northwest, I wouldn't hesitate to say that the I-5 rivalry was every bit as intense as the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. In both late '70s, '80s, and '90s, the Blazers and Sonics were often in the playoffs, and though it was a fun rivalry, us Seattleites hated Blazers fans.
Well, I know I'm contradicting what I would've done a few months ago if I still had my Sonics; but I don't care. When a city's team gets ripped out from under them by a gang of Southwest carpet-baggers, I think it gives me the right to pick any team I want to switch my loyalty to.
Portland is the logical choice. They have tons of Seattle roots: Nate McMillan is known as "Mr. Sonic" and his No. 10 hung in the rafters in Key Arena. Brandon Roy grew up in Seattle and went to UW, and Martell Webster was a star at Seattle Prep. Then, of course, their owner, Paul Allen, owns the Seattle Seahawks.
Plus, I would consider the Blazers as the hot team in the L right now. If you're going to jump on any team in the NBA for this year, Portland is the squad. Their roster is full of talented, young guys. Oden, Roy, Aldridge, Bayless, Rudy Fernandez (who blew up in the Gold Medal game for Spain), and Webster. I like their chances, even in the tough Western Conference.
Seattle sports had a pretty pathetic year. The Mariners lost 101 games, college football has been bleak at best (a combined one win between WSU and UW, and it came against Portland State), and the Seahawks are struggling, too. So maybe the Northwest can share the Blazers and shed some light on the Emerald City, which so badly needs something to go right in the sports world.
So, on my recent trip to Portland, I made a stop to get a Blazers shirt, and proudly wear it, and tell everyone that I'm not giving up on the NBA. Even though David Stern neglected Seattle and treated us like scum, I can't give this game up.
I can only hope that Blazers fans in Portland accept the Sonics fans and forget about the rivalry we shared for 40 years and have the Blazers represent a region, rather than a city.