Friday, July 21, 2006

Blazer Dreams

I watch watching a kid shoot hoops at the local park the other day and it brought up memories of my own Blazers dreams…a time when all I wanted in the world was to grow up to be 6’11” tall, red-haired, and start at center for the Portland Trailblazers. I think I shared this last year when subbing for Eric, but I lived on Mt. Tabor right across from Western Baptist Seminary. They had a single hoop in their parking lot…the only place for a little kid to shoot in the neighborhood (my mom not being really fond of the idea of my going up to the park courts alone). The hoop abutted a large briar hedge, which in the days of rubber balls spelled instant doom (thorns) so I learned to shoot very precisely or I lost my ball. I’d go out for hours, shooting in rhythm and imagining I was wearing, as Bill Schonely put it, "the scarlet and black". I would make myself make ten shots from different positions before moving on to the next and ten shots in a row from range before I could go home. I would devise 32-person free throw shooting contests, populating the brackets with players like Tree Rollins and David Thompson but always throwing two or three Blazers in there. They’d go head-to-head, ten shots each, single elimination until someone emerged victorious. (I’d be shooting free throws for all of them, of course.) I was always mad when somebody besides a Blazer won, but that’s how it went. I remember one time Bill Walton and Dave Twardzik ended up in the finals against each other and I was torn who to root for. I was one obsessive little kid.

My big career got temporarily derailed in 5th grade when my mom got a call from my math teacher saying I was 20 or so assignments behind. Apparently my mom was of the opinion I was spending too much time on free throws and not enough on fractions. I tried to explain how I was going to become a Portland Trailblazer and didn’t need math, but she was less than sympathetic. I still think mom and Mrs. Morrison owe me at least a three-year, $8 million deal.

I suspect in our heart of hearts most fans’ secret dreams would center around suiting up for the team, even just once. Wearing that officially-issued jersey with your name on the back would be unimaginably incredible. As I grew up and real life impinged, however, I found my Blazer dreams evolving. Now in my mid-thirties, as slow as molasses on the court, and with the vertical leap of a mostly-used sponge, any fantasy of an NBA career died long ago. In fact I don’t even think I’d want to get on the court with the guys anymore in practice or just to play H-O-R-S-E. It’s not that it wouldn’t be fun for me, but it would be such an embarrassment because of our comparative levels. It’d be like displaying your ‘94 Honda Accord at a car show or taking your refrigerator-scribbled drawing and saying, “Look at this!” to Picasso. Both are fine for what they are, but come on…different worlds man. That doesn’t mean I don’t still have a dream or two though. As I sat down and took inventory, here’s what I came up with:

1. I’d love to have lunch with Paul Allen and ask him what it’s like to own the team, what he’s learned and how he’s grown along the way, and how some franchise decisions evolved. (OK...and about the Civilian Space Project, the Sci-Fi museum, and all that. I swear sometimes that guy is living my life. Except being a computer impresario he's far better at math than I. See above for a possible explanation why.) Most of this I’d love to be able to write about here.

2. I’d like to sit beside a Blazer scout or two on a scouting trip, or maybe Kevin Pritchard during a game, and have them share what they see to make me a better observer.

3. I’d like to watch game tape with Nate with some chips and salsa to share and a lot of time to rewind and analyze. (In fact this may be #1.)

4. I’d like to talk anywhere with Buck Williams for about an hour.

5. I’d enjoy watch a real, live practice and game preparation…not just going to the parts the media are invited to, but to be a fly on the wall during the whole thing.

It’s funny how as I’ve aged the dreams have shifted more to the management/coaching side than the playing. It’s not that I still wouldn’t want to hang with the players, but I suspect they’d perceive an age gap as well as a fan/player gap that might stilt things a little. I mean, Brandon Roy called me “Sir” when I met him. (Bad move, B-Roy…I’m not THAT old! But I remember how 30+ seemed when I was 22, so you get a free pass.)

So what are your all-time and/or current Blazer dreams? Playing, coaching, observing, hanging out? Share them below or by e-mail.

--Dave (


Anonymous fatty said...

my blazer dream is to be at
every practice and at courtside
for every home game,also the
main dream to bring nba title
back to portland where it belongs

12:17 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

As I age my blazer dream is to have Paul Allen's bank account.

Or, be the GM for a week.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Hmmmm...GM for a week. You can bet that'll show up sometime next week in a "What would you do?" topic.


2:37 PM  
Anonymous jorga said...

Disclaimers: I'm female and older than everyone else here.

Right now I'd choose (in no particular order):

1. Fly on the wall. In practice, in meetings, on the bench.
2. Be a scout. Find that hidden gem somewhere.
3. Team psychologist. Get into Zach's head and straighten him out. Same with Darius. Does he strut because he's scared or because he thinks he's the greatest. Either way he's dodging reality.

Old dreams (and remember I'm from the era when girl athletes were considered odd, not admirable.)

1. Sportswriter. Girls didn't do that when I was in school. I'm not sure I'd want to be one now.
2. Coach. When I loved baseball as a teen I wanted to be a manager. NO interest now - the thought makes me shudder.
3. Girlfriend. I used to get crushes on all the cute players. I still notice the cute ones... (And yes, I did read True Hoop's link to the groupies article. That also made me shudder.)

3:57 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Dave said...

Jorga, I think you're onto something with your 'team shrink' idea. As long as we're dreaming, I'd like to have Darius come into my world for a week; maybe a 5-day river trip or hike a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Anything to get him out of his element and into who he really is. He strikes me as a person shaped by his surroundings (I don't think we've seen the real Darius). We wouldn't even have to talk basketball. Hopefully, with the distractions, his mind would escape that world and all it's trappings.

The whole thing could blow up in my face; maybe he really isn't interested in the beauty of nature. But it would be a geat experience. You know, something to tell the grandkids about.

It would be nice to get to know the person he's going to have to live with after the days of basketball. And have him get to know me.

7:16 AM  
Anonymous jorga said...

Dr. D - maybe we should send all the guys on one of those "team building" adventures. The real leaders would emerge and those who refused to cooperate would die... OK, we won't kill them off, but we will bench them.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Jorga, I'm not young anymore, though I'm not quite ready for retirement. Well, certainly not financially, anyway. But I am old enough that I can't come up with any good "Blazer dreams." I'd certainly love to see a championship. Being GM for a week would be fun, I suppose.

What I'd really like right now is for an NBA team to move to my city of residence... Las Vegas.

It would be hard to root against the Blazers, of course, but it would be nice to be able to go see a few games live.

9:56 AM  
Blogger jojack said...

"joe 'iceman' brings the ball across the cyclops at midcourt... spots billy ray bates in the coffin corner... clark eyes up michael cooper at the top of the key...shakes and bakes!...lickety-brindle-sp-the-middle ... HE SCORES... BLAZERS DEFEAT THE LAKERS!... LISTEN TO RIP CITY ROAR!"
(twardzick) "the iceman really brought him game today schonz. one thing he CAN do, is finger-roll!"

aahh yes, summer or 82...
top five blazer dreams:
#5 attend summer league, you lucky bum dave!
#4 scouting trip with john gabriel. europe, east coast, local... about a month, and in on all the meetings
#3 watch a game from a luxury box with bill simmons, bill walton, snapper jones, john salley, clyde frazier, and the original iceman... george gervin. oh, and stephen a smith could be there, bound and gagged, and we could all take terms using him as a urinal...
#2 courtside season tickets. maybe i could use andrew weiderhorn's extras if he winds up back in jail...
and #1: smoke a phat-ass blunt with rasheed and school him in some GTA San Andreas... CJ BABY!!!

8:27 PM  

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