The camera opens on the Trail Blazers station wagon slowly driving down an empty street at night, as rain pours down with insulting volume. A trip that had began a week ago with such hope had since been marred with unfortunate mishap after unfortunate mishap, and now the outcome seemed nearly unsalvageable. They had planned tonight on getting to San Antonio and having a fun basketball game with the Spurs (or is it “Purrs”?) then going to New Orleans on Friday for more fun and a game against the Pelicans. Most exciting of all, only 18 games remain until the Playoffs, a magical place that this bunch hasn’t seen since Brandon Roy’s 2011 Viking Funeral. But recent hardship has nearly overcome them. The seeds of mutiny happily receive water and fertilizer and sunlight, and the station wagon seems to carry only death.
An exasperated Robin Lopez shouts from the backseat, “I don’t wanna be in the car anymore; I wanna go home! I don’t wanna go to San Antonio!”
Who can blame him? San Antonio currently sits atop the NBA leaderboard with a record of 300-12 as they round into shape for another run at the NBA Finals. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli look renewed and even the 6’8” bag of memory foam that calls itself Boris Diaw appears even more at one with the shifting cogs of the universe than normal. Meanwhile, the Blazers lately have been ground into dust by those cogs.
Riding shotgun on the station wagon to Hell, LaMarcus Aldridge speaks: “Terry, under the circumstances, I wouldn’t mind if we just went home. In retrospect it seems like a pretty bad idea driving out. It’s been one disaster after another.”
Poor LaMarcus has yet to find the level of perfect serenity that he enjoyed early in the season. His jumper, while still effective, appears more hopeful than knowing of its fate. As a result — or at least he was not able to use his powers to alter the result — the Blazers have now dropped three straight games. There was the 5-point loss in Dallas, then the overtime loss in Houston, and, last night, the 10-point loss in Memphis. Furthering the string of “disasters” have been the time when Meyers Leonard urinated all over the picnic basket before a lunch stop in East Texas, then the time Patrick Beverley distracted Damian Lillard while James Harden stole all the hubcaps to do whatever it is people do with stolen hubcaps, and finally capped off by the recent passing of elderly guard Earl Watson, bless his soul. Who knows when Watson actually died though — he could have been dead on the end of that bench for weeks. Everyone just figured he was asleep. It wasn’t until Spanish swingman and devout fan of the Paul Simon catalog, Victor Claver, tried to nudge Watson during the fourth quarter in Memphis to ask his bench comrade if this, the arena of the Grizzlies, was the “Land of Grace, you know, home of El Vis de Presley.” Watson was realized to be dead, a horrified Claver shouted, “A dead person high fived me in layup lines!” and Terry Stotts left Watson’s body in the bathroom of a Conoco station in Western Tennessee, mumbling something about “This is how he would’ve wanted it. He always loved the smell of unleaded and roadside convenience stores that sold Sour Punch Straws.”
Even Lillard felt the depression of the scene, despite his strong performance in Memphis, and chimed in from the backseat: “Yeah, it’s been a real drag, coach. Maybe we could try it some other time.”
Aldridge: “Coach, what do you think?”
Stotts looked back at his players with a wild look in his eye, as though possessed by the demon of Tony Allen, and exclaimed: “I think you’re all fucked in the head. We’re 18 games from the fuckin playoffs and you wanna bail out! Well I’ll tell you something, this is no longer a road trip. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. I’m gonna have fun, and you’re gonna have fun. We’re all gonna have so much fuckin fun that we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles. You’ll be whistling the ‘NBA on NBC’ theme out of your assholes. [crazed laughing] I gotta be crazy. I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose (I think he’s talking about Adam Silver here because even though Silver doesn’t have antlers, he has some real moose-y eyes). Praise Adam Silver! Holy shit!”
Lillard was taken aback by his coach’s sudden burst of insanity: “Coach, you want an aspirin or something?”