Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tum-Tum-Tum-Tums

The net is abuzz about the Sonics sale and its implications and a couple of interesting questions came in via e-mail from Jon, “A-2”(?), and Amie. (Edit: That should have been "Annie". Sorry.)

“How would you feel as a Sonics fan?” (Apparently one reads this blog, which is cool.)

I feel great empathy for Sonics fans this morning. I really hope a suitable deal gets done that keeps the team in Seattle. That’s where it belongs. I can only imagine the sick feeling in the stomach considering the alternative…in fact I don’t want to imagine it much because it may come to Blazer fans as well. We’ve had a strong, good rivalry over the years and other than the Blazers there’s no team I’d like to see moved less.

If I were a Sonics fan I’m also pretty confident that the Blazers moving north would be a poor substitute, as would be the reverse. If I’m a Seattle fan I grew up on Jack Sikma, Freddy Brown, Dale Ellis, Gary Payton, and Ray Allen, not Bill, Clyde, and Rasheed. I don’t want all that history flushed down the tubes just to get another team, as if they were interchangeable. If anything I might want an expansion franchise someday to start again and carry on the memory unblemished, but I’d find the idea of adopting the Blazers vaguely nauseating.

“Do you think Portland becomes a regional team if the Sonics move?”

No, for the same reasons I just stated. Green and gold is not red and black. Portland’s never had an MLB or NFL franchise so it’s easy for us to root for the Seattle teams in those sports. But imagine if the Blazers left town…would we suddenly convert to Sonics fans en masse? Not a chance. Why, then, would Seattle folks do the reverse? In fact to the extent they were passionate about the Sonics they’re less likely to adopt the Blazers, not more. (How many diehard Cleveland Browns fans do you suppose became Bengal Boosters when their team moved to Baltimore? And they’re in the same state!)

“You just said you liked the direction management is going. Don’t you trust them?”

Depends. In the post on Kevin Pritchard I basically said I trusted him to do his best to build a good team, be passionate about doing so, and be gracious to the fan base. That makes no judgment on which fan base we’re talking about. In fact while I hope he has some connection to Portland in particular, I doubt his tenure here has been long enough that he couldn’t easily shift that allegiance to the people of Seattle or wherever he was made a General Manager. That’s his job.

Despite things apparently being more palatable in the management department, it’s still pretty obvious that the organization is operating under an “us against the world” assumption in many ways. It comes out strongly in the dealings with the media, but I guarantee you there are some (and maybe plenty of) people in the organization who see fans either at best as dupes (or marks) and at worst as annoyances…either way firmly planted in “the world” end of that equation. I had a friend once in the ministry and he was a nice enough guy but his attitude about working in a church was, “This would be a great job if it wasn’t for all the people I have to deal with.” It’s perfectly possible to execute your job duties competently, maybe even excellently, without evidencing any particular connection to the people whom you serve. This has been part of the Blazers’ culture for a while now and I don’t think it’s completely changed.

Let’s face it, for the last decade the team has been less the “Portland Trailblazers” and more the “Trailblazers who happen to play in Portland”. I think there are people on staff who would like to remedy that, but I don’t think there are many prominent ones with long enough tenures or enough connections to the city who would complain, protest, or even feel great remorse if the effort were shifted wholesale to a new fan base. There are no Terry Porters here, no Clyde Drexlers or Bill Schonelys. In fact it’s pretty likely that some folks would actually be relieved to be dealing with new reporters, new politicians, and new fans.

In short, I do trust that people at Blazer HQ want to do their job conscientiously and well. I trust that they are basically people of integrity. I do not think that they have always shown they perceive this particular community as critical to that integrity, nor do I trust that any such bond would prevent them from being just as happy moving somewhere else. I do hope that as the team and community grow together again that bond will re-form. I also hope that the one guy with the most potential for the intimate connection because of his tenure and past emotional involvement—namely Paul Allen himself—feels that bond strongly. As many have pointed out, however, it’s difficult to know what Paul is thinking at any given moment.

“How likely is it that the team will move?”

I wouldn’t say it’s likely at this point. Too many dominoes have to fall first, including the team ownership situation being resolved, the Sonics actually moving, bankruptcy being declared and cleared in court, and the NBA approving a move. That’s a lot of hurdles. This is kind of like being married for a while and your spouse starts spending a fair amount of time with a co-worker of the opposite sex. Is an affair immanent? Probably not. But it’s still not a great sign and it’s something you’ll want to keep your eye on.

At the very least everybody needs to get out their antacid of choice and start a steady diet, because until Allen actually buys the Rose Garden back or sells to someone who does, this is going to be a constant issue and will almost certainly be used for leverage whether or not there’s any serious intention of moving the team. Necessary for business…not fun for the fans.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

13 Comments:

Anonymous fatty said...

dave i could'nt agree with you
more the more i think about it
i live in bx,ny so i'm a blazer
fan from afar,if i lived in
portland,i would'nt mind going
to sonics games if the sonics
situation was reversed,but i
would never be a sonic fan so
if i was living in seattle and
was a sonic fan i would go to
portland to wacth nba but never
be a blazers fan...
will you give me an anwser about
next year's draft dude also
the sonics are history in seattle
later dave !!!!

11:03 AM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

However, this is a business decision- not a community decision. Portland has Seattle people like Webster, Roy, & Nate. There would be an instant connection. And, as a team growing and getting better and better, the fans will come. Add to that, Paul Allen is well liked there and bringing in a team to replace the old one would be more applauded than scorned. I am of the opinion that there is a 50/50 (or slightly better chance) the Blazers will be in Seattle in 3 years.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

You've hit at least part of it on the head, BP. As fans we want to believe that everybody has the same passion and views the purpose of the team the same way that we do. That's not always true. In the current case I'd guess that we think PORTLAND Trailblazers while most of those associated with the team think Portland TRAILBLAZERS. And most of those outside the area just don't care one way or another, any more than we would be up in arms if the Bucks were considering moving.

The only guy that matters at the moment is Allen. I'd give a million bucks to have some assurance that he'll do what is necessary to keep the team here (or the opposite...even then it would just be nice to KNOW). In a way this feels like being in a couple and suspecting divorce might be a possibility. All you can do is talk about things like love and passion and commitment to the relationship without knowing if those things really mean anything to the other party. Ugh.

--Dave

1:53 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

When Allen failed to buy (or build) the Rose Garden and own it outright was a monumental blunder and is the sticking point with regards to possibly losing the franchise to Seattle.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

I'm going to say i believe the Blazers are destined to stay in Portland. I am hoping that what i read in the O-Live blazers blog is true. It said in there that Schultz turned down an extra $75 million from 2 other legitimate buyers(one being Oracle CEO Larry Ellison-who competes with Bill Gates for being the single most filthy rich SOB around) who wanted to buy and move. It says that Schultz was very concerned about finding a buyer who intended to keep the Sonics in Seattle.

Let's hope that is true, because this is one thing I don't want to be rumored about at all. The Blazers to Anaheim (which wouldn't crush me as much since i currently reside in San Diego) rumor stinks and is all of the Blazers moving rumors i want to hear.

7:11 PM  
Anonymous jorga said...

Dave said...I'd give a million bucks to have some assurance that he'll do what is necessary to keep the team here

No no, Dave. If you've got a million bucks to throw at an unnamed person, please call Terry Porter! (Is there an emoticon for tongue-in-cheek??)

FWIW, I moved to Portland from Seattle and immediately shifted allegience. Both teams were still young and didn't have much history or rivalry (since they were both still losers.) It was actually harder to shift my hockey allegience because I'd been hating the Buckaroos for years. In a similar situation, my freshman year in college (out-of-state) our first basketball game happened to be against UW. I "knew" all those guys but I did't know anyone on my college team (different conference.) That was really hard for me, although I sent all sorts of "nyah nyah" notes to my UW friends when my college won. But I still rooted for UW except when they were playing "my" teams. Still do, actually.

If the Blazers end up in Seattle (and I sure hope Canzano is right) I'll root for them until we have our own team again. (And you know very well that the Blazer name would NOT be retained in Seattle.) And would I root for a team that moved into Portland? Sure. It's Portland's team.

Let's see ... they became the Supersonics when Boeing was the only employer in town (and was actually developing a supersonic passenger plane, the 777, that was eventually shelved.) Anyway, do you suppose they'd become the Seattle Microchips??

7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, there is one important factor here, and that's money. For Paul Allen to move the team would cost almost a billion dollars (buyout of city contract + rose garden loss + cost of new arena in Seattle). He's rich but not rich enough to absorb a billion dollar loss - this is guy who didn't want to pay the interest on the rose garden bonds, for crying out loud. He'd have to be the worst businessman in history, and I don't think he is. And if he does sell the team, it is going to be sold with the rose garden...no one looking to relocate the team is going to pay for two arenas.

Of course the best thing would be for people to start showing up to games again, filling up the rose garden and making the portland market attractive once again.

7:31 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

The thing is, I think there's a chance that at least two of those factors can be cancelled out. The payoff to the city doesn't happen with a successful bankruptcy. The Rose Garden doesn't happen if he doesn't buy it. However I think the thing that may save our bacon is that he wouldn't be able to delay the second that long even if he wanted to. Let's hope anyway.

--Dave

8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, maybe your right that the payoff doesn't happen under bankruptcy. It can be argued that the city could be considered a "creditor" due to the losses they will sustain (over a 20+ year lease term!) and the avoidance of the buyout. They could then seize control of the assets (Trail Blazers Inc) and find a new owner who will assume the lease.

No way he gets to declare bankruptcy AND keep the team.

NBA regulations prevent public ownership of teams. They would probably take ownership of the team rather than let the city have it. But 1) bankruptcy is uncharted waters for the NBA and 2) the NBA might want to keep the team in Portland if attendance figures support it as a viable venue and the rose garden is still available at an attractive price. That's why I believe it is important for people to start attending games.

The culture has been changed. Blazer fans, it's time to support your team or risk losing it.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

I hope you're right about the bankruptcy thing. I have long contended that a lot of this has to do with what David Stern will or will not put up with. He has not liked Allen or his ownership that much historically, but on the other hand he won't do anything which would be seen as impinging on an owner's rights or best interests.

I agree that it will be harder to move the team if attendance is decent. (Harder, but not impossible...if they really want to move it they will and all of our cries won't be worth a hill of beans.) I hope attendance does start rising. Fortunately I think hopes for the new, young players will aid that. And as I said in an earlier post, give us a couple trades, a couple drafts, and a couple years and we could be pretty good again.

In the end the only immediate recourse fans have is to keep a strong stomach and a lot of optimism.

Great comments. Thanks for them.

--Dave

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Casper said...

Hi, I'm from Seattle and a diehard Sonics fan. But even more important than that I'm a basketball fan. If the Sonics are shipped out, I will adopt the Blazers. Gotta support basketball in the Northwest. And you have Mr Seattle Paul Allen at the helm, Mr Sonic coaching the team, and 2 of the greatest local talents Seattle has ever produced.

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Sean Insanity said...

This post is so old and irrelevant. It's 2007 now. Get with the program!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.adquity.com

Classifieds for our community. Buy, sell, trade, date, events... post anything. Adquity Classifieds.

http://www.adquity.com

7:30 AM  

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