SPAWNING THE REVOLUTION: THE CASE FOR SCHRUNK THE SALMON

|
moyola project 3 c

DATELINE: PORTLAND, OR, MARCH 13TH, 1970.

The night the people of Portland were told what the name of their new professional team would be, the (soon to be World Champion) New York Knicks were the visiting team against the Seattle Supersonics at the Memorial Coliseum. In those days, Portland was mostly a shipping town: dockworkers, lumbermen, commercial fishermen, beaver trappers. A lot of families lived on barges. Vancouver, Washington was still technically part of Canada. Beaverton was still 80% “BEAVERTOWN,” a beaver themed theme park. The Willamette River had yet to be dug.

This is all to say, that once upon a time, the people of Portland were not basketball people, per se.

A traveling drifter knife fight in Pioneer Square? An exhibition baseball game with a viewing of Babe Ruth’s corpse during the 7th inning stretch? A group of truck drivers beating a hippie outside Powell’s? Portland was a town for all of these things, absolutely. But basketball? Too Eastern seaboard-y. I mean, Bill Bradley was playing that night, and he went to Princeton. Very fancy, Too fancy. Modern Basketball was born on the concrete jungles of New York, and Portland still was still 80% dirt roads. Basketball Hall-of-guys-who-played-pro-basketballer Mike Riordan would foul out in this game, an incidence that the PA announcer had to spend 4 minutes explaining to the restless fans who had come to see him. The culture shock had everyone in the stadium ill-at-ease as they watched the Sonics beat the Knicks behind 28 points from future Blazer player and coach Lenny Wilkens.

At halftime though, they announced The Name. Let your mind envision the moment. The mayor at the time, the Honorable Terry Schrunk, quiets the crowd. The lights dim. A spotlight follows an envelope in a little cart being pulled along by a pair of beavers, descendants of the beavers that Meriwether Lewis himself trained when he arrived in Astoria in 1805. Mayor Schrunk picks up the envelope, breaks the official seal, removes the small slip of paper and reads.

“The name of the new NBA team will be…”

A tense silence. One witness said later that you could actually hear the beavers breathing.

“The Portland Trail Blazers.”

A gasp. Then surliness. A small riot ensued. Several cars were burned in a fire in the field where the Rose Garden now stands, hundreds of basketballs were deflated and thrown into the river. Two young, coonskin cap’d children robbed an old lady in the madness. You have to understand: Portland was a town looking for any reason to riot in those days, and a sport that might as well have been soc-cer was now going to be played by a team with a name that had two words in it. It was a shocking thing.

Boos rained from every direction. It didn’t help that it was a capitulation. The team had held a “Name The Team” contest and the most popular submission, “Pioneers,” was already in use at Lewis and Clark College, then a training school for riverboat operators. (Side note: Reed was originally founded to teach failed farmers how to become speed manufacturers.). This necessitated the use of the city’s second choice, the “Trail Blazers.”

“THAT NAME IS TERRIBLE!” yelled one child in attendance.

“TWO WORDS? HOW AM I GOING TO WRITE HEADLINES!?”

“I AM VERY ANGRY THAT MY SUGGESTION, “THE BEAVER PELTERS,” WAS NOT PICKED.”

The team’s name probably would have eventually changed, were it not for the sense of tradition that was wired into the club after the 1977 title. But as a consequence of the violent rage on night of the Knicks-Supersonics game in the Memorial Coliseum, we don’t often think about the Trail Blazers as the “Trail Blazers.” We generally  use the “Blazers” shorthand. Think of all the popular modifications of the name: “Blazermania,” “‘Zers,” “#bazers.” The red and black colors associate the team with fire and heat.

“Oh, the Blazers are ‘Blazing’ tonight!”

“There’s a real ‘Blaze’ in the Rose Garden tonight!”

This was the frame of mind behind the creation of “Blaze the Trail Cat” a very ugly and unlikable mascot that has dumb ears made of fire and nothing to do the pioneering history and spirit of the region where he works.

Blaze was introduced by the Blazers in 2002. The marketing department wrote a contrived backstory about how he was a special breed of mountain lion which makes sense if that breed is “House Cat,” which is what Blaze clearly is clearly modeled after. They even said that Scottie Pippen adopted him from a rescue shelter. You don’t adopt mountain lions from rescue shelters, you adopt house cats from shelters.

Before we continue, I would like to make perfectly clear that this is not about the performer who works in the Blaze suit, he is perfectly good at his job. It is about the very idea that the “Portland Trail Blazers” – a name once supposed to evoke the history of pioneers who came to Oregon in the 19th century – are represented by an animal that would be useless to any self-respecting pioneer. What would a domestic cat be to a group of people traveling cross country, across rivers and plains? Here is every use I could think of:

1. Maybe they kill mice at the campsite.

2. They are good for skinning and eating when things start to go south. Other than that, a cat is just gonna pick away at your rations and scratch your poor starving children when it gets bored.

Other local teams and universities have mascots that reflect the region. The minor league Hillsboro Hops baseball team have a perfectly charming mascot in Barley the Hop, a gigantic, anthropomorphised hop flower that honors the area’s craft brewing industry.

(A picture of the author with Barley the Hop)

The Portland Timbers, a local soccer team, have employed a series of “Timber” men that represent the region’s timber industry. The Oregon State Beavers take their name from the state animal, the mass genocide of whom by beating and skinning was the region’s earliest industry. The Oregon Ducks, I will concede, maybe make less sense in this regard, but there ARE ducks in Oregon. The University of Portland Pilots? Riverboat pilots from the 1930s. Portland State Vikings? That one doesn’t make sense. But this is not a Portland State sports blog, so I won’t extrapolate on this.

Nearly all of these teams have reasonable mascots that reflect the region, while the Blazers trot out an animal that not only does not represent the region, but doesn’t make even a lick of sense as a logical construct. Not to mention, Blaze is not terribly well designed. Is he as horrifying as the original Pierre the Pelican? No, of course not; nothing is. But is he attractive or engaging in any way that would make you miss him if he were gone? No!

His ears are made of fire which is unbelievably corny. He is white and grey, which I guess is the color of the weather here, but ain’t no one trying to think about that. His countenance is set in a constant smile which is disassociating in an anthropomorphization of a cat because cats are cranky and aloof animals who withhold love. Think of famous cartoon cats from history: Garfield, an open misanthrope merely waiting for death’s sweet embrace; Tom and Sylvester, put upon predator/victim of a smaller animals. “But Corbin, what about Top Cat? he has a cheery disposition!” When was the last time you or ANYONE paid attention to Top Cat? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

My friends Zak and Baylie own cats that have basically taken over their condo. They don’t even use one bathroom because they use it to store stuff they don’t want the cats to destroy. These are angry animals. Blaze’s big dumb smile is an upsetting fiction that prevents people from loving him because he is a fanciful lie. The symbol of our proud city in the arena of basketball is an animal that never smiles, “Blazing” a trail for a journey in which he would be utterly useless except as the last disgusting thing for pioneers to eat before they would eat their own children.

I have established that Blaze is horrible and must be replaced. But I did not come here to burn down the church: I came here to build new cathedrals and propose a noble animal to represent our beloved Blazers for now and forever.

Enter, the mighty salmon. The salmon will provide everything the Blazers need in a mascot. It is a local animal, a symbol of the region, a Trail Blazer by instinct and a charmer who will appeal to the the child in us all.

The Salmon is a native fish to the Oregon area. Before Europeans and capitalism arrived in the 1850s, the Columbia River was lousy with salmon. Scientists have ballparked runs at 10-16 million salmon and steelhead trout passing through the region every year.  In the 1860s and 70s, the salmon canning made the fish Oregon’s leading export after wheat and flour. A hundred years of overfishing, over-development, hydroelectric power and brutalization from invasive flora and fauna have depleted the runs significantly. The Salmon is a “keystone species” in the local ecosystem of the Northwest, an important source of nutrients for native birds, bears, and plants. Restoring salmon runs is the symbolic and practical heart of local conservation efforts. Anyone who grew up in the Portland Metro area knows about the area’s deep ties to salmon. I remember raising salmon for release into the wild in a tank aquarium in elementary school and setting up eggs to hatch in Whipple Creek in the 8th Grade. The salmon is a perfect symbol of Oregon and the Portland metro area, and one that has somehow slipped between the fingers of local sports teams looking for a mascot.

A salmon’s life, like those of the pioneers that walked the Oregon Trail, is full of adventure and travel. A salmon will hatch in a river bed and swim out to the ocean where he or she will live an adventurous life, feasting on the fruits of the sea and gaining mass. Then it swims upcurrent, back to the specific riverbed of its birth, where it will lay eggs and die. This kind of Trail Blazing is in contrast to a cat, which just hangs out in a person’s house until one of them dies.

“But Corbin,” you say, trying in vain resist this amazing idea because it overwhelms you so much. “Salmon are not cute!”

To which I say: are Catfish cute ? Tuna?  Fish hooks? No, but a good design will make it work! I solicited some designs from notable artists for you to get an idea about what a salmon mascot might look like:

Casey Jarman gave us this handsome fellow dressed more or less like a Portland resident prepared for the rain. Check out the “77” on the jersey. Casey also sent along a nice alternate logo, for marketing purposes:

(Casey Jarman is the Managing Editor at Believer Magazine and the founder of Party Damage Records.)

Dana Cox’s contribution has a grim look of mild panic, which would be relatable to all people. He is also wearing a coonskin cap, like a pioneer. He’s naked, but I think people could handle that.

(Dana makes stuff. She made this.)

Matt Hatfield’s contribution is decked out in full pioneer regalia and beautiful Blazer black and red on his scales. Your kids are already demanding stuffed animals.

(Matt Hatfield is in Drop the Root Beer and Run and performs sketch comedy and improv in and around Seattle, Washington.)

HANDSOME STUFF!

Trail_Blazers_Rockets_Ba31

DATELINE PORTLAND, OR, JUNE 20th, 2015:

It was a hard fought NBA Finals. No one had expected the Atlanta Hawks, an underdog in every sense of the word, to bring it like that. LaMarcus Aldridge stepped up in the decisive Game 7 — 35 points, 20 rebounds, and a game winning pass out of the post to Damian Lillard, whose buzzer-beating three-pointer gave the Blazers a 101-98 victory. The whole Portland Metro area cheered in their homes. Parents and children, white, black, hipster, square. From Ridgefield to Salem, the people cheered.

The Finals MVP trophy was presented to LaMarcus Aldridge. “We couldn’t have done it without the fans. Or without that guy, right there.”

LaMarcus pointed to Schrunk the Salmon, the Blazers’ beloved mascot, named for the mayor who helped bring the team to the city. He was surrounded by laughing children and crying grown men, who never thought this day would come. In the locker room after the game, Wes Matthews, wearing a protective eye patch he earned in the heat of playoff battle, told gathered reporters that Schrunk, “Really rallied the fans…Schrunk brought everyone together. I can’t even imagine the Blazers without him.”

SUMMER LEAGUE RECAP: KNICKS 71 – TRAIL BLAZERS 69: KING OF COUNTRY

|
anthandcleo

A Summer League game between the Blazers and their spiritual cousins in the East, the New York Knicks, is always a special occasion and the two teams delivered today with a 71 to 69 point defensive monolith that left everyone in the Cox Pavilion on the edge of their seats.

I am going to level with you, the readership. Will Barton wasn’t wearing a headband in this game and Bobby Brown was, so I got them confused from time to time. Maybe once or twice I was impressed with Brown when I should have been impressed with Barton, because Barton was really good in this game. 11 Points on 11 shots, 7 rebounds and 3 assists. He should have had more assists: Freeland and Robinson both mucked up some really solid passes out of pick and rolls. In the game’s last three offensive possessions, Barton attacked the teeth of the defense, got them to collapse and delivered a good to a teammate who mucked up the attempt; McCollumn Missed, Freeland bricked a pretty point blank-y take at the rim, and Brown was out of bounds on a catch after Cleanthony Early (Is his name an intentional mash-up of “Anthony” and “Cleopatra?” If so, excellent choice, Mrs. Early.) missed a layup on the other end. Bad results, but Barton’s process looked good. Also had a nice midrange crossover sink in, show your kids that action on the YouTube reel someday.

McCollum also looked pretty good. He had a nice drive to the basket, looking real quick out there kind of stuff in the 2nd even if he did end up bricking the layup (The World Cup has lowered my standards for requiring a shot to go in to be impressed, apparently.). 1-4 from three isn’t ideal, but I don’t have to tell you about the sunrise, sunset nature of three point shooting. He also got 4 steals in the first half, which the commentators were quick to attribute to some kind of new defensive mindset that is going to now defines CJ McCollum, a sort of Avery Bradley of the West. But people, let’s get real. It’s great that CJ was playing heads up but the Knicks are trotting out a Summer League lineup with a marginal amount of practice time and telling them to run a triangle offense. It was a guy bringing 20 bicycles to the park and leaving them out while he went swimming in the lake: a lot of hot opportunities for theft.

The Knicks’ triangle execution got them two (2) Jeremy Tyler mid-post turnarounds that went in and 7 more shots that didn’t. So one might assume that Joel was doing a good job keeping him on lockdown out there. But Joel also had four fouls, so let’s call that a push. It also netted them a good performance from Tim Hardaway, Jr., netting 20 points on 16 shots, a ratio I will call “Summer League Efficient.”

Thomas Robinson looked good in ways you wouldn’t expect and bad in ways you wouldn’t expect. Sinking some midrange twos: good! Netting five turnovers, primarily from bad catches and making pretty cruddy attempts at the rim on fast breaks: bad!

Alan Crabbe had a drive to the basket and missed all of his other shots. Meyers didn’t play on account of shoulder trouble, he was supposed to start. Bobby Brown wasn’t productive or anything, but when you watch him, you understand what teams keep giving him Summer League slots: he doesn’t make weird mistakes or ball hog or anything like that. It’s weirdly veteranish, like a summer league Derek Fisher. Fisher was coaching the Knicks today, I couldn’t even begin to tell you anything about that except “Yes, they are running the triangle.” Summer league has a weird scoring system that the Blazer got points out of, but it’s even more complicated than World Cup scoring and my doctor has me on headache watch right now so I’m not going to get into it.

Devion Berry played for three seconds and didn’t manage to get anything into the box score. The NBA Record for fewest seconds played while still scoring points is held by Earl Clark, who somehow scored while not recording even one whole second of play in a game against the Nuggets on January 13th, 2013. Second place goes to Joel Anthony, who got fouled and sunk two foul shots in one second of play in a game against, once again, the Nuggets, on December 30th, 2013. Third place belongs to former Blazer fan favorite Craig “The Rhino” Smith, who scored in four seconds of play in a game against, and hold on to your hat here, THE DENVER NUGGETS, on March 5th, 2011. The Trailblazer record for fewest seconds played with a score belongs to Armon Johnson in a game against, HOLY CRAP, The Los Angeles Lakers, in a game on March 5th, 2011. But you thought it was going to be the Nuggets for a second there, didn’t you?

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS SUMMER LEAGUE PREVIEW, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIELD ROAST:

|
Field-Roast-Corn-Fried-Franks

Another July, another half-hearted blockbuster Summer League roster from the PORTLAND MICHAEL BAYBLAZERS. I can’t be the only one tired of all these explosions and so called “Witty” lines and whatnot. I much prefer the prestige basketball of fall or the quirky indie college players performing to Belle and Sebastian in the early spring. But I am a basketball critic and Summer League basketball is the dominant financial engine of the industry so I am obliged to write about it, I suppose.

Because their bench is “Under-performing” and young the Blazers are bringing A LOT of NBA-players to Summer League for reps. Six of their players played for the team last year, two of them in relatively major roles. The rest of the guys are all weirdo Euro prospects, and I will discuss them as well.

DUDES YOU KNOW (In alphabetical order):

BARTON, WILL:

WHO IS HE? A dynamic guard in his third year on the Blazers. Athletic, rangy, possesses a good shot but either has been robbed of his birthright minutes by Mo Williams or too inconsistent to crack the rotation. The official position of this website is the former but I encourage people to read literature on either side of the issue.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Will has talked about playing point guard, which is probably not going to happen in the actual NBA, but he will hopefully get some cracks at running pick and rolls and seeing if he can make something out of it. He should also be features on defense, taking whacks at perimeter scorers and exhibiting development on that end, if he has any.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE, BROUGHT TO YOU BY FIELD ROAST BRAND SEITAN BASED MEAT SUBSTITUTES: A very jaunty headband.

CRABBE, ALAN

WHO IS HE? A three point shooter.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Shoot threes. Try to play replacement level defense.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE An eerie lack of accessories that make you feel unnerved by their absence. Who is this man? Does he feel? Does he sweat?

FREELAND, JOEL

WHO IS HE? A power forward/center on the Blazers who was actually pretty good at the beginning of the year, playing a brand of grinding defense that you wouldn’t expect from a gentleman of the British Isles. He had an MCL sprain halfway through the season and didn’t get back into the rotation when he was healthy.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Before he came into the NBA, Joel’s main selling point to any team that signed him was a tremendous pick and pop jumper. Expect to see him try and get that going again. He will also get postups because teams think that kind of thing is funny in summer league.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A totally hilarious basketball with fire coming off of it that he has claimed he is going to get removed because of how silly it looks. It’s like if a there was a cartoon tiger who has basketball themed stripes. Hopefully he replaces it with a big-ass bulldog wrapped in a British Empire flag weeping over Queen Victoria’s grave.

LEONARD, MEYERS

WHO IS HE? A tall person who flails a lot on NBA courts. A person I’ve made so much fun of that I have dreams where he beats me up while I cry and apologize.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Not flail so much. Resemble an NBA player.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: An unnervingly perfect pomade structure fixed on the top of his head.

MCCOLLUM, CJ

WHO IS HE? An aspiring NBA journalist who is occasionally a small combo guard in the NBA.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS: Resemble an NBA player. CJ being injured for a lot of last year was not good for his getting used to the league, but when he did play, the results were really underwhelming for a four-year player. If he can help the summer league offense go he will go a little ways towards proving he belongs.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A faint mustache, the sort preferred by a man trying to make love to your wife at your bowling night.

ROBINSON, THOMAS

WHO IS HE? A power forward who does hustle shit. Was regarded as skilled in college but hasn’t shown anything in that vein in the NBA.

WHAT ARE HIS SUMMER LEAGUE GOALS? Board, try and exhibit the kind of skill shit that will buy him more NBA minutes.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A cat-like reaction to being sprayed with a bottle

13501912-standard

OH MAN, this has been a real work-a-day typing out all this stuff about summer league. I better take a break and have some of the new FIELD ROAST BRAND MAPLE BREAKFAST SAUSAGE. All the flavor of breakfast sausage, none of the pig. Soy and GMO free!

polentafieldroast

DUDES YOU DON’T KNOW (And for this section, certainly the most important section, please welcome PRS Summer Leaguer James Fillmore who will be providing extra insights on players you will never think of again after these two weeks.)

The goal of every undrafted player who plays in Summer League is to attract the attention of scouts, be they NBA or D-League or European so I won’t expound on that as much in this section.

APPLING, KEITH

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Keith Appling, a smallish man by basketball standards, played point guard at Michigan State, a college in Vermont. He averaged 3.3 assists — this in college ball, mind you, where all they do is pass for 39 seconds then huck it up — and 2.2 turnovers. That’s an assist-to-turnover ratio of Lousy. He also shot .283 from the shorter college three-point line. This is better than I could do.

CORBIN: A 6-1 point guard guard who played at Michigan State. His DX profile is not terribly kind: the word “Vanilla” is involved. It does compliment his defense, though. In this Youtube video, the ESPN YouTube guy calls a move he made “Nasty,” but he just kinda dribbled behind his back without any particular flair and drove to the rim. College basketball types: raise your standards for nastiness!

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: A wristband on his left hand. This probably indicates that he is left handed, which would be VERY useful if he were a baseball pitcher.

BERRY, DAVION

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Davion Berry can shoot, which is nice for him, because he is 6’4” and 185 lbs, just about the worst possible size a professional American basketball player can be. Like Damian Lillard and Jack London, Berry is from Oakland, a town that could pass for Baltimore in the second season of “The Wire” (the one with boats) and is known for its tough-as-nails point guards such as Lillard, Payton, Kidd, and London (“The Sea Wolf” would be a cool NBA nickname, or maybe “C-Wolf”). Like Lillard, Barry also played at Weber State, so the two can reminisce about doing beer bongs in Utah. He looks, in photos, like a very nice young man who should probably give up basketball already, since he is the wrong size, yet I can’t judge. I was pretty confused at 23, and maybe Barry could use basketball to live in Poland. The Blazers might sign him for the Idaho squad, because he can shoot, but Poland is better, Davion. Really.

CORBIN: A Webber State product who went undrafted this year. Statistics and height (Real GM lists Six-Four, DX suggests he is six-two and a alf without shoes) suggest a that he is a guard by trade. He doesn’t have a DraftExpress profile. Played at Cal State Monterey for two years before transferring to Webber.  Here is a highlight package. Probably got the slot because of his connection to Lillard, which is fine and the way things work.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Had dreads when he was a younger man.

BRACKINS, CRAIG

CORBIN: WHO IS HE? A 26-Year old forward, height-ed Six-Ten. Drafted in the first round by OKC in 2010, then traded to the Sixers where he didn’t play much for two years. This makes him one of many people (see also Evan Turner) who thirst for Doug Collins’ sweet, sweet blood because he ruined their careers in some way or another. He deserved to lose that medal for the mid range shooting he enabled later in his life. Played in the D-League for a while, spent last year in the Polish League, doesn’t seem like he played so great or so much (1.9 rebounds a game, yeesh.). A man on a mission for a new European home.

JAMES: Craig Brackins, a largish man by any standard, played forward at Iowa State, where they helped invent computers and nuclear bombs (not while Brackins played there). He shot three-pointers better than the ostensible point guard Appling, at .292. He had a handful of games with the 76ers, did time in D-League, went to Israel, Italy, and Poland. The Polish city he played in sounds totally friggin’ awesome. His D-League minutes (yes, there are people who record such things) went down every year. So hopefully he likes Poland. I would.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLEA rubber band on his leg.

BRYAN-AMANING, MATTHEW

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: A 26-year old, 6-9 British forward, whose mother was self-assured enough that she insisted on a hyphenate. Played college basketball at the University of Washington, the school the other author of this blog attended. In an interview conducted over Twitter dot com, Joe said that all he does is dunk off screen and roll action.  Was on Britain’s hilariously slapdash, Luol Dung led Olympic team. Last played in France, I think? 20-ish MPG, respectable numbers. Here is a highlight mix.

JAMES: Matthew Bryan-Amaning is from Surrey, England, and has two last names, meaning he certainly grew up on a diet of Roasted Peasant and stayed warm in his huge drafty castle by reading histories of the Punic Wars by fireside. He ended up playing in America after a tragic duel in which he wounded the future Earl Pearl-Monroe (who turned out to be his own illegitimate half-father) and to flee the estate. He went to college in Seattle, was undrafted (athletic, tall, can’t shoot, it’s not uncommon), D-Leagued it, then landed in Turkey, Serbia, and most recently France, where a team website lists his position as “Interieur” and says he “est un joueur actif tant en attaque qu’en défense” AKA not very good by NBA standards at anything, but probably an interesting chap, life-story wise. Just don’t use the wrong salad fork or say the queen should “sod off” in his presence.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Polo with an undershirt, a Washington State staple if there ever was one

BROWN, BOBBY

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: My favorite basketball player ever.  A Six-Two, 29-Year old point guard coming off a stint with the Dongguan Leopard of the Chineese Basketball association. Cal Fullerton product. Played for four NBA teams between 2008-2010. Has he played in Summer League before? You’re goddamn right he has, he’s played in Summer League every year since 2007. This man is a Summer League animal. His job on the team will be to teach the young, non-NBA level guns, how to conduct themselves if they want to attract the attention of the Guangdong Hongyuan Southern Tigers.

JAMES: Bobby Brown was named after a vicious Frank Zappa song (not the vicious R&B singer) and is a living testament to how this undrafted-to-Europe-to-NBA thing sometimes, against all odds, can happen. He went from Cal State-Fullerton to Germany to four years in “The Show,” getting decent minutes for indecent teams. Then he restocked his SIM card and had bad stretches in Poland, Germany, and Italy, a good stretch in Greece, and scored 74 in a game for the Dongguan Leopards in southeast China. If you think I’m going to try and decipher his stats from that website, you think highly of my abilities and I thank you for this but you are wrong. He is a point guard who will be 30 by the time the NBA season begins and he will probably not be part of that season.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: An infectious smile!

bobby-brown-sienne

CARNEY, RODNEY

WHO IS HE? CORBIN: A 30-Year old, Six-Seven small forward. Played in the NBA from 2006-2011, was last on Sporting Al-Ryhad Beirut, like the Beirut in Lebanon. Here is a video of him dunking on Dwyane Wade.  He logged a 21.83 PER with Memphis in two games played in 2010-2011, which is pretty funny. He was kind of a crummy shooter in the NBA. Will be interesting to see if he has developed on that end to get back into the league. This is his first Summer League since 2007.

JAMES: Rodney Carney is the Crash Davis of Portland’s Summer League squad, drafted way back in 2006. Another wrong-sized guy, he had some success as a defender at the 2/3 for the Sixers, before getting traded to Minnesota, the kiss of death for any NBA career. After a few more seasons bouncing around the NBA, he actually wound up in Beirut (that had to be deflating, but fascinating), and has the single most depressing Wikipedia user edit I’ve ever seen:

“On May 28, 2014, he was played for Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters as an import replacement for Othyus Jeffers who had a problem on his NBA contract. Carney first game as an import for the texters was not easy due to not enough rest for almost 24 hours He scored 13 points . But On his Second Game Against San Miguel Beermen (Philippines) He Scored 28 points and 9 rebounds . And They Win Over the San Miguel Beermen (Philippines)”

There’s more about the Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters on Wikipedia. A lot more. All written, I suspect, by the same really enthusiastic aide for the team owner (his page is huge, too.) Or simply by a Filipino basketball fan who could put your meager Blazer fandom to shame. TO SHAME.

To sum up, Rodney Carney IS Crash Davis. He’s seen it all, man. If you have a chance in Vegas, meet this person. And convince him to start writing his book.

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Modest facial hair.

GIBSON, JONATHAN

WHO IS HE? JAMES: Jonathan Gibson graduated from New Mexco State in 2010, and since then has the world tour down to a science, whirlwinding it through China, Italy, Israel, Iran and Turkey (Turkey being the toughest international league, according to Jonathan Gibson) In college he majored in General Business, a first for any athlete anywhere. He grew up in West Covina, CA, part of the indeterminate Los Angeles megapolis. So we know he can drive a car. But can he drive the lane? Flourish as a creative passer? Well, these too are skills one learns driving LA freeways, so I’m hazarding the answer is “yes.” In regards to NBA basketball, most likely “no.”

CORBIN: 26, Guard, Six-two. Played college ball at New Mexico State. Scored… HOLY SHIT 32.46 POINTS PER GAME for the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association last year. (That team also featured FORMER BLAZER LEGEND Chris Johnson, out there snatchin 11.39 rebounds per game.That’s American power, flexing its mighty muscles in China.) Will his INSANE SCORING PROWESS translate to the NBA Summer League? Watch and find out!

TRADEMARK SUMMER LEAGUE STYLE: Points, he scores so many of them that he just wears them on his body. So many goddamn points, guys.

 

LEBRON JAMES SPURNS PORTAND

|
lebronpdx

Today, in an article in Sports Illustrated, LeBron James announced that he will be returning to Cleveland, Ohio to play for the Cavilers. This ends a years long flirtation between the king and the Portland Trail Blazers, who have long coveted James.

“Am I disappointed? Absolutely.” Portland coach Terry Stotts spoke to Portland Roundball in an exclusive interview at his North Portland home. Stotts is looking tan and rested in a seersucker shirt and cutoff jorts but was slouching with palpable disappointment. “LeBron would have really helped our defense and our shooting and ball movement and our mid-range shooting and our ability to get takes at the rim. He would have made LaMarcus a better player and also Damian and Wes and Chris Kaman.”

“When we picked up The Big-Steve-Man (Blake), I thought we were in like Flynn, to be honest.” Stotts took a sip of a homemade mint julep and readjusted his Portland Beavers fitted cap, a sweet thrift from a local Goodwill (Four bucks, man, can you believe that?), “But I suppose that the pull of his hometown and all that; you know, we were a better situation but he was aimed at a ‘higher purpose’ or somethin’. You want some quinoa? Katie (Stotts’s live-in girlfriend) just whipped some up, lemon and cilantro, the good stuff. We got a bouch’ (A slang term for Kombucha, a drink made from fermented black tea) we just finished, too, we’re living the good life out here.”

DID THE BLAZERS DO ENOUGH?

James has semi-publicly complained about not being properly compensated for his talents as a function of the max salary in the CBA. Jeff Sullivan, writing in Fangraphs yesterday, tried to construct a baseball player with as much value to his team as Lebron has to whoever is blessed to be paying him and created a player who hit 438/.527/.820 played the shortstop position as well as anyone could possibly play it and was also an obscenity of a starting pitcher, who sported a 1.67 FIP. In short, an impossible player. But Lebron still makes less money than practically any baseball player worth mentioning.

Should Paul Allen have circumvented the CBA and paid LeBron in clandestine battleships? LeBron has long held ambitions of becoming a naval power. You would have to imagine that Paul Allen making that dream come true would have outweighed his “responsibility to lead,” or “My relationship with Northeast Ohio.”

Why has Paul Allen become such a miser with the Blazers’ roster? Is it the Seahawks? Do you love them more than us because they gave you the ring? Please, Paul, look us in the eyes. We can’t take it anymore. Why didn’t you buyLeBron his ships?

SHOULD WE RESENT BATUM?

Had LeBron come to Portland, he would have taken the place of rangy forward Nicolas Batum. Should we spend the year resenting everything that LeBron could do that Nic couldn’t? Some people might say no, but I have a different position: yes, absolutely.

The next time you see a guy beat Batum off the dribble, make sure you tap your child’s shoulder and say “LeBron could have stopped that.” Batum misses a midrange shot? Groan audibly, look at your wife, and tell your wife “Goddamnit honey, why isn’t he LeBron!? It makes me absolutely sick.” Put up signs with pictures of LeBron in Batum’s yard, to let him know that you don’t appreciate his bullshit and that he will never be good enough for you or for the city of Portland. Buy him train tickets back to France. If Amtrak insists that there aren’t any trains that go directly to France buy one to Vancouver, WA, then cross out the destination and write in “Frenchytown, Paris, in France, where you belong.”

STEVE BLAKE FAQ

|
blakenbalive

WHO IS STEVE BLAKE?

Steve Blake is a 34-Year old basketball player from Hollywood, Florida. He attended the University of Maryland and was drafted with the 9th Pick in the second round by the Washington Wizards in 2003, which, considering the length of his career, is pretty impressive. He plays Point Guard. A career backup type, Steve has player for a lot of NBA teams at one point or another.

WHAT A BORING SET OF INFORMATION. WHAT DOES THAT CRAP HAVE TO DO WITH THE MODERN DAY BLAZERS?

He signed with the Blazers today, a contract worth 4.2 million over two years. The second year is a player option. Upon signing with the Trail Blazers today, he is the first player in franchise history to have three separate stints with the team. The first spanned 2005-06 and the second 2007-10.

THIS IS HONESTLY NOT GETTING LESS BORING. JUST TELL ME, YOUR SMELLY SACK OF BLOGGING GARBAGE; IS HE GOOD?

Not really. He’s never had a PER above 15, the fixed league average. Here is his shot chart from last year:

steveblake

A lot of red and yellow. Good from the left and some pretty good three point shooting, though, 37.6% on the year. He is a backup point guard.

HEY, WHAT IS THE BI ANNUAL EXCEPTION? DO THE BLAZERS GET TO KILL SOMEONE EVERY TWO YEARS OR SOMETHING?

The cap is INSANELY COMPLICATED and I am not a “Capologist” in any regard, but it’s basically an exception to the salary that is smaller than the Mid-Level exception. The Blazers used the MLE on Chris Kaman, and the biannual on Blake. This almost certainly excludes them from resigning Mo WIlliams.

IS HE BETTER THAN MO WILLIAMS? PLEASE TELL ME HE IS, THAT SHIT MADE ME CRY LAST YEAR.

Ho boy, that is a LOADED question:

Mo and Steve are pretty similar from a “Total Value” standpoint offensively. Mo had an 11.8 PER to Steve’s 11, their Win Shares per 48, .056 and, .058, are separated by a trivial amount. They came to this similar production in subtly different ways, though. Nearly sixty percent of Blake’s shots were three pointers while Mo was often content to hike up a long two almost immediately after coming off a pick. This is reflected in their nearly identical True Shooting Percentages, even though Blake’s un-adjusted FG% sat at 37.7% to Mo’s 41.7%

The Per-36 Assists and turnovers are a bit of a smoke screen. Blake played a lot of minutes for the gonzo-paced Lakers last year so that one-whole-extra-assist-per-36 is less notable when you compare their 28.8-to-26.7 assist percentage, a measurement of the percentage of baskets a player assists on. Mo turned the ball over less (21.5 for Blake, 17.5 for Mo) but that’s more a function of his midrange shot jacking than the virtue of “Caring for the ball.” Blake was a better rebounder last year but not really in any significant way and not over the course of their careers.

By these stats, it appears that the Blazers have ditched one below average caretaker backup point guard for another with almost exactly the same value who is a little older. But there is a little numbersthingy on ESPN’s big Real Plus-Minus chart worth mentioning:

DRPM is an adjusted measurement of how much better or worse your team was defensively when you played. Here is highlights that Mo WIlliams was a TERRIBLE defender last year, and Steve Blake though he isn’t Tony Allen, was hovering around “Not doing any active harm.”

So, in conclusion, he is probably better than Mo Williams. But he is older and he might get worse faster.

YEAH, 34, THAT’S KIND OF ON THE OLD SIDE FOR A PRO ATHLETE, HUH? ALSO, 26, IS A LITTLE OLD FOR A BLOGGER, GET A REAL JOB

Yeah, Steve Blake is older and the Blazers gave him a two year deal. He has been getting injured a more often in the last few years, too.

WHAT EFFECT DO VETERAN BACKUP POINT GUARDS HAVE ON COACHES, AND SHOULD IT CONCERN ME?

Coaches love veteran backup point guards more than anything. Every NBA coach’s secret dream team is five backup point guards, who are all veteran leaders and never turn the ball over, because coaches hate turnover more than anything even though they’re kind of necessary in a productive offense because they’re indicators of risk-taking.

Steve Blake is on the Blazers which is not like the worst thing that has ever happened. But he also presents an active roadblock to McCollum or Barton getting any minnutes. If he’s the backup shooting guard, like Mo was last year, it will be annoying. Then again, CJ might not be good and Barton has been a hero looking for a villain to dispose his entire career.

IS HE SCRRRRRRRAPPY!?

omg, so scrazzy

HOW DO I MODULATE EXPECTATIONS AND REALITY IN MY LIFE?

Guys, what did you think the Blazers were going to do with that money? What did you want? Luol Deng? Ariza? Sorry, those guys like money. Vince Carter would have been cool, I guess, and he might still be a possibility. I wanted Jameer Nelson in that slot, but that’s probably an underpay and he might have commanded some years for his first backup contract and he might not want to be a backup yet. It’s not like there’s just a billion dudes who play in the NBA and they’re all better than Steve Blake. Anyway, the Blazers have like a billion centers and will probably make a trade so there’s other shit to get excited about.

DOES HIS WIFE HAVE A TWITTER ACCOUNT?

Yes. Here is a picture she posted of Steve power washing their pool with the caption “My man loves power washing. No idea why. Looks awful to me.”

Power washing the pool. So scrappy! Look at that hustle with the wand.

CHRIS KAMAN FAQ

|
chris_kaman_12_large

WHO IS CHRIS KAMAN?

Chris Kaman is a 32-year old basketball player from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He plays the center position, primarily. He attended Central Michigan University. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2003, played for that team until 2011 when he was traded to the New Orleans Hornets as a part of a package for Chris Paul, played with that team until 2012, when he signed with the Dallas Mavericks as a free agent, left that team in 2013, and signed with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent. He was an All-Star in 2010. He acquired German citizenship in 2008 on a flimsy pretext (he has German grandparents) to play for the German National team.

WHAT DOES CHRIS KAMAN HAVE TO DO WITH THE PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS?

On Wednesday, the Portland Trail Blazers signed the Kaman to a two year, 9.8 million dollar deal. The first year is worth 4.8 million dollars, the second is guaranteed for one million dollars.

THAT’S A LOT OF MONEY! IS HE GOOD AT BASKETBALL?

Well. Kind of. Kaman posted decent per game numbers last year: 10.4 Points on 50% shooting and  5.9 rebounds while playing 18.9 minutes per game. They even stand up to pace adjustments analysis: a 17.0 PER (15 is average), 16.6 rebound percentage (Lopez had a 14.5%, Aldridge 16.5). On offense, at least, he wasn’t terrible. But, he did only played in 39 games last year, on account of both injuries and DNPs. That second thing I wouldn’t worry too much about: last year’s Lakers were a Mike D’Antoni joint and Italy Mike preferred to crank up the pace and play lineups with only one big man.

Kaman has been a pretty good midrange shooter for most of his career, but he didn’t get a lot of tries in MDA’s threes/rim runs system last year:

kamanshotchart

When he played in Dallas two years ago, in a flow style offense that is similar to Portland’s, he did a little better:

kamanchart2

He is probably not a good defender. He doesn’t have swift pick and roll destroying feet and his block percentage is a’ slippin. RPM indicates that he isn’t a disaster, though;

kamanrpm

The ways of RPM remain mysterious to me. It could be witchcraft and he could be as  a fiery dumpster.

Kaman was rumored to be on the Blazer’s radar last year, and it would have been a bad idea then because he probably would have started and car bombed the defense. But he isn’t starting on this team barring some VERY bizarre roster reconstruction decisions. Kaman is not a great player, at least not anymore, but you know who else isn’t a great player? Basically every NBA backup big man. If a back NBA Big man was a great player, he would almost certainly start, because the percentage of the population that is both exceptionally tall and NBA-great at basketball is so small that everyone who fulfills those conditions is an NBA starter already. But there is a 85% chance that he is still a good NBA player who will improve the bench even if he is making a little more money to do so than one might be comfortable with.

IS WHAT AMOUNTS TO A ONE YEAR CONTRACT THAT WOULD BE READILY TRADEABLE GOING TO KILL THE BLAZERS?

That question seems leading, but no! One year contracts are basically harmless. The Blazers could pay Hasheem Thabeet 20 million dollars for one year and not really mess up too much. That might even clean up the cap a little and give everyone someone to fixate all their negativity towards.

IS HE NOT SPENCER HAWES?

He is not! This is good because Hawes is deeply insufferable and would have commanded a multi-year deal. He’s also almost certainly better than Hawes, who has a worse PER and RPM.

IS HE FUN TO WATCH?

Not really. But he is pretty goofy lookin’ out there, all big and pale and bearded and stuff. He shoved Reggie Evans after Revans gave his nuts a grab and gave a pretty funny interview about it once. (h/t Brocialite)

DOES HE HAVE HOBBIES?

Hunting, which I find abhorrent but you probably don’t have a problem with. He owns a lot of guns but at least he doesn’t have President Obama’s face on toilet paper and equate taxes with living in 1983 Soviet Union despite being paid millions of dollars to play basketball. He also drives speedboats (h/t David Roth). Outdoorsy stuff! He’s going to love it here!

THERE ARE LIKE A BILLION BIG MEN ON THE ROSTER NOW, HUH?

Yeah, someone’s gonna get shipped out for some weird guard.

HEY, UNRELATED, BUT IS THERE A PLAYER YOU THINK THE BLAZERS SHOULD SIGN?

I think the Blazers should sign Jameer Nelson because he is better than Mo Williams.

 

PORTLAND ROUNDBALL MAILBAG, JUNE 19TH, 2014 EDITION

|
carlisle-stotts-casey

Joe is in Columbia writing for irreputable publication VICE Magazine, so I am answering questions alone this week.

FAMOUS WRITER BEN GOLLIVER asks:

We can all agree that Damian Lillard’s series-clinching buzzer-beater in his first playoff series was the Blazers’ “Illmatic” moment. Even at 23, Lillard already holds a prime spot in franchise history on the strength of that moment alone.

My question: exactly how deep does his popularity run at this moment? If you heard that Lillard was traded this summer, how many players in the league would produce more excitement by their arrival compared to the disappointment caused by Lillard’s departure? Any?

1. “Illmatic,” for those weren’t previously aware, is an album by the hip-hop artists Nasir “Nas” Jones. Here is a video of him reading a song off the album off a teleprompter in front of a crowd of human beings.  It is like the “Live at Fillmore East” of hip-hop music, a masterpiece produced at the height of the artist’s powers. Much like “Fillmore East,” though, whose release coincided with the untimely death of legendary lead guitarist Duane Allman, “Illmatic” was a high point that Mr. Jones was never able to reach again. Hip-hop heads have pissed and moaned about every song and album Nas has put out since. I mention this only to say that if that shot was truly the Blazers “Illmatic” moment, we are in for 20 years of complaining. “When is Dame gonna hit another gamer winner?” “Lillard gotta start taking inbounds from Batum again, these new inbounders is lame.” Hopefully, Lillard’s career reaches new height after new height: a Ghostface Killah trajectory and the shot was merely his Ironman.

2. This isn’t to say that Lillard hasn’t carved out a place in our hearts, though. The Rose Shoten (A shot that happened in the Rose Garden? Cut me some slack, I haven’t noticed anyone else trying to give it a name!) was a bonding moment between Lillard and BlazerFan. It was a perfect moment: a game nearly ripped from their hands by dashing villain Chandler Parsons and stolen back with a perfect shot from the perfect location. Perfect location, by the way: if you told me Dame was going to hit a series winner, I would have pointed to that spot on the court and bet all five of the dollars I have on that being the location. There was yelling. There were tears. Babies born nine months later. Dwight Howard held his knees and looked really stressed out. Beautiful stuff.

It was a moment that blinded Blazer partisans to Damian, as a child is to their mother:

Whoever is playing backup point next year, be it Mo Williams or someone else, will never receive love from Portland faithful. Damian will leave the room and we will cry for him, panic, until the weird psychologist guy (Sotts) tells him to come back into the room. Then he will take everyone in his steady arms and we will ignore all of the other toys in the room.

So if Damian is our mother, who amongst the NBA’s population could become our SUPER mother? I consulted ESPN’s RPM tool and sorted by WARP: There were 21 players who were worth more wins than Dame by RPM (This list includes Channing Frye, which, weird.):

rpmchart

In looking at this list, I can confidently state that, even though there might be some initial pain, we would probably accept Lebron and Durant as our super mothers. Durant in particular might balm the wound of the Oden pick: the mother we were always meant to have. Then, I don’t know. Steph and CP3 are great and all, but Chris is old and has been mother to so many, and Steph is just too eerily similar to our old mom, but he shoots threes better and drives to the rim worse. If Dirk shows up, that’s a chaos on all kinds of levels – your weird German uncle who everyone likes, abandoning his family to replace your dead mom. Kyle Lowry I would find actively upsetting, like if mom turned into a giant mean dog who was kind of spotty about making breakfast. I don’t even think James Harden and Dwight Howard’s family love them all that much, Blazer fans would cry until their tears were gone and blood leaked from their eyes.

This is all to say, Durant and Lebron and no one else, even if it would make sense as a basketball move.

3. Then again, anyone would come to love Tony Allen sooner or later.

SMOKED OUT FROM THIS SLATE ARTICLE ASKS,

Dear Prudie,

Ours is the home my family and my husband’s family come to for holiday meals, and I am more than happy to play hostess. I have asked the smokers, who make up about half of the guest list, to smoke outside or in the garage. The problem is, I said my grandmother could smoke inside. She is 91 years old, and I would never ask her to stand outside in the cold. I also feel that at her age, she can do what she wants in my home. Now everyone else says they should be allowed to smoke inside if my grandmother is doing it. I have tried to explain that one smoker is different from 15 of them. Of course, the nonsmoking part of the family doesn’t want any smoking in the house. Am I being unreasonable? Should I tell Grandma not to smoke, either?

SMOKED,

You know, Smoked, this reminds me of a something in MY life, and I think discussing it will illuminate your situation. A basketball team I follow called the “Portland Trail Blazers” are entering the free agency period soon and one of their positions of need will be backup point guard. Their current backup – an older gentlemen who we will call “Mu Wollams” to protect his anonymity – is serviceable at times, but he is an atrocious defender who has a bad habit of ball stopping even when he comes off picks. This is a problem for the Blazers because their offense thrives on ball movement, which gets all gunked up when Mu has the ball in his hands.

But he is an older man, who has had a fairly respectable NBA career, and the coach of this team – whom I will call “Terry Cloths” – affords him a lot of respect and playing time even when he is carbombing the team. It sounds like Mu is going to be declining his player option this year, and the Blazers would, presumably, have a good crack at signing him again. I wouldn’t mind if his role was reduced and there was a strict expectation that he avoid jacking up long twos, not using Lillard/Mu two guard lineups. But “Vets” like Mu are catnip for NBA Coaches; note how Derek Fisher somehow commanded minutes in high leverage Oklahoma games this year! Terry just won’t be able to help himself, NBA coaching is a sickness and veteran fetish is a symptom.

The Blazers’ problem with Mu and your problem with your grandma have to same solution: just say no. We defer far too much to our elders, and we ought to leave them out in the cold more often. Get this lady a sweater and avoid signing her to a multi-year deal, so you won’t be enabling your greedy cig huffing relatives or Terry Cloth to do something that’s just going to stink up the joint.

FROM @jandavidjansen on TWITTER DOT COM: why is Terry Sotts so dreamy?

1. Well, Terry IS very tall, and according to the “Best answer” on this Yahoo! Answers thread women are attracted to tall men because it is “part of the alpha dog thing…subconsciously we want a man to protect us.” This is scientific stuff, ask anyone.

2. A lot of people say that Terry looks like Peyton Manning, who is a symbol of power, wealth, and sex in this and every country.

3. Terry is from Iowa, where they force feed young boys corn and shoe polish until they become handsome gentlemen.

FROM NOT FAMOUS WRITER ALEX DEWEY, @DrewNO on TWITTER DOT COM: Do you expect Mo Williams to grow a second face on the back of his original face with the face of LeBron?

Absolutely.

SEND QUESTIONS TO portlandroundballsociety@gmail.com and/or @pdxroundball + @corbinasmith over at twitter dot com; they will probably get answered. You could ask about pretty much anything. It’s SHOCKING how hard it is to generate these on a week to week basis. Thanks to Caitlin Obom for editing this post: she is in the sketch comedy group Drop the Root Beer and Run, who perform in and around Seattle, WA.

TRAIL BLAZERS CRAIGSLIST ROUNDUP:

|
00D0D_7HxIErNH3Iv_600x450

This is a roundup of all the exciting Blazers products available on Portland-Metro Craigslist. DISCLAIMER: I absolutely would not buy any of these things. I am a very, very cheap person with a spare aesthetic design sense. My dating profiles highlight my thriftiness and value as a low cost husband prospect. Owning anything this ephemeral would really mess with my brand.

Blazers glasses – Aldridge Lillard Batum Matthew Lopez glass + FREEBIE – $45 (Kruse Way area)

00B0B_a4D7mykbOro_600x450

This person is selling a collection of popular drinking glasses that were given away to boost attendance at games no one wanted to go to. You can buy the whole set for 250 dollars, OR you can buy every glass individually at a different price for every player: $75 for Aldridge, $60 for Lillard, $70 for Lopez, $45 for Batum and $45 for Matthews.

Do these prices make any sense? Math will tell us! The seller in question is asking for 295 dollars, in total, for the sale of these glasses as individual units. The Blazers starting five produced, by Basketball Reference’s (Imperfect, as all broad based value stats are) measurement, 42.7 wins. I have produced a Google Docs spreadsheet that tells us how accurate this seller’s pricing is:

winsharesgraph

Not that far off! I thought that Lopez’s glass would be grossly overpriced, but Win Shares seems to agree with this seller’s valuation. Aldridge was the most overvalued player by this person’s glass-pricing model, but it is worth mentioning that Win Shares are a sum stat and he was the only member of the starting lineup to miss any time this year.

If you buy all the glasses together, the seller is also offering a poster the team gave away that features every member of the roster and also what a small, feeble, bald, old man who wearing a Blazers jersey and holding a basketball.

 00R0R_14UsMNk9BoE_600x450

Who is this man? Was it a man’s last wish  to be included on this poster or is he an apparition, captured in the computer where this poster was Photoshopped? We will never know for sure.

 

Rare 1992 Basketball Tournament of the Americas – $40

00c0c_gzohKUC9PzW_600x450

This is a program for the Tournament of the Americas, the Qualifying Tournament for the 1992 Olympic Basketball Tournament, which was played in its entirety at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland. The tournament was the public debut of the 1992 US Olympic “Dream Team.” This collection of Hall-of-Famers and Christian Laettner were forced go through the indignity of qualifying for the Olympics because of the sad-ass college players we sent over getting pantsed by Toni Kukoc and the soon-to-be-dissolved nation of Yugoslavia in the 1990 FIBA World Championships. It was a frightening time, when America had very little sense of its identity. Thankfully, the Dream Team thoroughly humiliated the competition and brought a scared nation back to the brink, setting the stage for the eight-year non-stop party that was the Clinton Presidency.  (The Bush Administration’s car wreck 2004 team and Obama’s more even footed and competitive, but not completely dominant, 2008 and 2012 teams were equally symbolic.)

I included this particular to say that my mother insists that me and my family were in attendance at one of these games. Apparently my late Grandmother, who scored tickets to all kinds of big events (I went to a lot of Disney on Ices), worked some magic. I don’t remember any of it. When I was four years old,  I was in the presence of the greatest basketball team ever assembled, and all I can recall is a sort of hazy memory of red chairs and my mother, or maybe my grandmother. I’m not even sure where that little shred comes from, it might have been a Winterhawks game or something.

MGD Trail Blazers mirror – $30 (Sandy) 

01212_jrPt2S8k56g_600x450

This is a tacky mirror, meant for a bar. The prominence of teal and former Blazer player Randy Generic signify that it is from the mid nineties. Randy is not remembered by most Blazer fans. He played for the team in his only NBA campaign during the 1994-1995 season. A 6-5 shooting guard from the University of Montana, Randy was born with a very plain face and unspecific features. He always wore white socks and sneakers. An early season clerical error assigned Randy a numberless jersey. He thought about trying to rectify the issue, but the problem would have necessitated renegotiating the CBA and anyway, he was very shy and didn’t want to make any waves. He rarely got on the court in games, but in practice scrimmages, no matter how hard he tried or how many shots he took, he would always score 10 points, get one assist, and net three rebounds. Once he tried not shooting at all, and he was simply fouled in the bonus five times. Eventually, this repetition started appearing in every aspect of his life: he would eat steamed broccoli and chicken breasts for dinner every night, he woke up at 6:08 and went to bed at 10:12, he stated going on the same date with the same woman with the same conversation every weekend. Then, one day, he was in the bathroom at the  C entrance in the Memorial Coliseum, when, while he was washing his hands after his ritual 4:34 pregame poop, he looked in the mirror, had a complete break, screamed, and entered a catatonic state. Some say that he saw the depths of the absurdity of the universe down to the random movement of particles, others say that he became convinced that he was a program in a computer, and still others say his soul was taken and eaten by the Basketball devil, George Mikan.

Some say, that during sparsely attended Winterhawks games, you can see a slight scoreboard mouthfunction: HAWKS 10 GUEST 4. Randy’s ritual score and his rebounds added to his assists in every Blazer scrimmage he ever played in.

 

PORTLAND 2013-14 TRAIL BLAZERS MEDIA GUIDE – $10 (Vancouver)

When I was writing this, I sent out this Tweet:

reviews

I did not get any responses and I have not myself read the media guide, so I cannot vouch for the guide as reading one way or another. If you are the media member who is selling this guide, please get in touch: we want to know why, and if you REALLY think it is worth ten dollars.

Vintage Trail Blazers Light Up Store Display – $95 (17110 N.E. Halsey Street)

00K0K_2vw8QDAikCf_600x450

This light up display, featuring Rasheed Wallace and Scottie Pippen, was made for a convenience store display. But you should think about putting it the window of your used bookstore.

 sheeding2

See? Sheed was born to inspire a lifelong love of reading

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. SPURS GAME 5 PREVIEW: A PILLAR OF SALT

|
Marble Platform Vista

-In game four, with their season and their pride on the line, the Blazers did some things differently that worked. Nic Batum, the Blazer’s finest defender of point guards, finally got the call to check Tony Parker for the whole game and held him to 14 points on 12 shots. The Blazers also got an out of nowhere career performance and nearly 30 minutes out of Will Barton and good work from Thomas Robinson. Parker had one assist, which probably didn’t really have much to do with what the Blazers were doing, but a really poor 3-18 three point shooting night from the Spurs. There’s no particular reason to believe the Spurs will shoot that poorly from three again.

-A brief word on the “Hey, someone has to come back from down three! It happened for the Red Sox and it’s happened four times in hockey!” I really honestly doubt it will happen in a basketball series where someone didn’t get injured. baseball and hockey are significantly more variant on a game to game basis than basketball. Also, except for the Game 4 shooting slump, the Spurs have really beat on the Blazers like it’s their calling in life. It would be really cool if the Blazers hadn’t swung their last punch on Sunday, but how do you kill a biological robot without a heart?

-Next year, if there is a next year and the Blazers aren’t disbanded, one certainly hopes that the bench plays more, either because the Blazers signed more reliable bench players or because the ones they have get better or that they’re not better but playing them over the course of season makes them good enough in time for the playoffs. The Spurs’ dumb ol’ “Multi Scenario Depth” made for matchups that the Blazers couldn’t handle, especially with two very small and bad defensive guards on the perimeter. Side note: isn’t McCollum old? If he’s good, shouldn’t he already be good? Because he has not looked very good.

-Another thing the Blazers did in game 4 that worked was not force feeding Aldridge like their lives depended on it. It was an AWESOME idea in the last series, because the Rockets had to choose between Terrence Jones getting absolutely lit or playing an untenable two center offensive lineup, but the Spurs have no fewer than 3 appropriately sized and fleet-footed defenders (Timothy, Tiagothy, and Baynesothy) and also Boris Diaw who is not appropriately sized but is a pretty heavy dude with a low center of gravity and quick hands. He’s like a fluffier version of Chuck Hayes.

-Speaking of Chuck Hayes, I have a theory regarding Chuck Hayes that is completely unrelated to this game. I think now that people are not letting their sons play football, we are going to see more Chuck Hayes-y players in the NBA. Look at this picture of Chuck Hayes:

7852804

That is a 6 foot 6 inch (in shoes) dude who weighs 249 pounds. He has good hands and quick feet, good on screen and an extraordinary post defender because of his ability to leverage his weight against taller defenders. Remember watching Aldridge try and take him when the Blazers played Toronto? The Chuck Wagon wasn’t having it.

In how many universes does a six-foot-five American athlete with quick feet and a special gift for leveraging his not insignificant weight NOT end up playing lineman on a football team? Hayes himself has even said that he has defensive lineman’s legs. The fact that he is in the NBA is probably a cosmic accident, but the future Chuck Hayeses will come from a world where concerned mothers are pulling their children out of football. MARK MY WORDS.

TRAIL BLAZERS VS. SPURS GAME 4 PREVIEW: PILE OF GOLD

|
13227004-essay

TEN PARAGRAPHS REGARDING TOMORROW’S GAME, OR NOT REGARDING TOMORROW’S GAME:

1. We’re all going to die someday. It doesn’t matter that we had good lives, ate good food, listened to good music, watched a hell of a ballgame, someday it’s going to end and we’re going to die. The Blazers, now facing a 3-0 deficit against a team that has thoroughly dominated them, are also almost certainly going to die. Once they’re gone, people will only mention this disemboweling in passing. They will instead talk about the crazy Houston series and Lillard’s game winner. Remember the good times.

2. The Blazers have outrebounded the Spurs 132-127 in the series. If anyone ever tells you that any one aspect of anything is the key to find success in that thing, kick them in the shins. Things are very complicated, as a rule.

3. The Rockets went undefeated against the Spurs in the regular season, 4 multi-possession wins. Howard would have done a better job guarding Parker off screens and Harden gives San Antonio fits. The Spurs probably lucked out with this matchup.

4. The Blazers run a sort of weird bastardized Indiana defense, where the big man (Lopez) drops down to protect the rim and they all but concede log two point jumpers. But they don’t have Indiana’s defensive talent and a player like Parker, who shoots well from midrange, can burn them. Batum did a better job following Parker around screens than anyone else so far.

5. The Blazers have a crummy bench filled with young players who never play. Should they send players down to the D-League to get playing time more often? Should they give give worse players NBA minutes to try and develop them? How much does playing young players help them get better, really? How many wins should a team sacrifice to improve prospects? The Spurs have a good bench, what are they doing? Are rhetorical questions annoying?

6. LaMarcus Aldridge is an overgrown apple tree, Tim Duncan a stately pine, Robin Lopez a cherry blossom, Tiago Splitter an olive tree, Boris Diaw a cactus, Aron Baynes a log cabin.

7. Blaze the Trail Cat should obviously be a salmon. I will write more extensively on this topic over the summer, but it’s important to plant the seed in the ids of my readers before then.

8. Part of the reason players sign for under market value for the Spurs so readily is that they don’t have to pay income tax. If the Blazers really want to compete in this league, Oregon has to completely blow up their tax structure, absolutely it is worth it, how dare you think anything is more important than sports (I am a Washington resident).

9. Last night I was taking a shower and my bottle of Bronners soap was clogged up. I squeezed the bottle really tight and it shot me right in the eye and burned super duper bad. If you tole me the Blazer could come back and win the series, if only I would pour a bottle of soap in my eyes, I would probably say, “Nahh.” that really hurt a lot.

10. HOPS PREVIEW: The Hillsboro Hops are the Portland Metropolitan Area’s finest half-season A Level Professional Baseball team and their season is going to start on June 18th. Does Elvin Sotto have what to takes to bring Hillsboro’s finest to the promised land in your opinion? Oh boy, I am bushed from writing that Hops preview.