Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Fun, Fun, Fun

Our esteemed Prophet touched on something in the comment section of yesterday's post that made me think. In reference to watching players develop and hoping for the future, he said simply, "That's what makes this fun." My first reaction was, "That's right!" But in that same moment it struck me that it's been a while since the words "fun" and "Blazers" appeared in the same sentence.

"Fun" is something that's been lacking in the team for quite a while. As I think back, even the 1999 and 2000 runs were pretty serious/stressful because of the characters involved. The only real liberated, joyous moment I can remember is forcing that Game 7 with the Lakers after being down in the series. Other than that there was always a lot of Sheed getting tossed or Rider thumping his chest then disappearing. And those were in our GOOD years. There hasn't been a whole lot of fun at all since the century turned. I think this new squad has a chance to bring back the fun a little.

One of the core elements of having fun as a fan is seeing the players having fun out on the court together and really enjoying what they're doing. Part of the sports experience is living vicariously through the participants. It's no fun at all when it looks like your imaginary life would be a drag. This is part of the reason that the apathy that Brian Skinner referenced yesterday hurts so much. It's not just that you paid to see a sub-standard product, nor that your team is collecting losses...it ruins some of the fundamental reasons for being there in the first place: to forget your troubles for a while, to find something worthwhile to put your heart into, and to have FUN in doing so. If you went to a concert of your choice and the performers skipped half the guitar riffs and muttered their way through the music while staring vacantly off into space it'd leave you bitter (provided that's not actually the kind of music you enjoy). It would also be jarring if the band was angry, stressed, and yelling at people after every third song. The Blazers have been one or the other of those for the better part of a decade.

I'm hopeful that these new players will not only care about the game but find a way to enjoy it. So far they seem pretty enthusiastic. Because they're all coming in at once and because the veteran leadership is relatively weak they do have a chance to define their generation they way they want it. I'm realistic that it may take a while to develop a sterling win-loss record, but I'd like to see an immediate uptick in their enjoyment factor playing the game and of my enjoyment factor watching it. That's both reasonable and possible.

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)


Anonymous Toast said...

If you went to a concert of your choice and the performers skipped half the guitar riffs and muttered their way through the music while staring vacantly off into space it'd leave you bitter.

Sounds like the time I saw the Smashing Pumpkins in concert.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Renegade said...

I went to see the Stones at the Rose Garden a while back. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, but did miss Bill Wyman.

10:49 AM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

To me, sports is always fun. I enjoy going to a baseball game, putting my feet up on the seat in front of me, keeping score, yelling at the umps and wolfing down a few hot dogs. I go to football games to see a 285 lb linebacker spear a 180 lb QB in the left ear hole and watching blood & brain matter squirt out the other side of the helmet. Love that stuff! I go to Trailblazer games to be a fan. Win or lose, up or down, good or bad, I simply like sports. I rather we win a close game that keeps me on the edge of my seat, but I’ve found other reasons to enjoy losses… Sometimes, I think people take this stuff too seriously.

11:40 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Wins and losses don't bother me since we're not in contention, but you've got to admit it's pretty hard to have a ton of fun watching your best player not go for rebounds (or watching him get tossed for arguing a stupid call for ten minutes).


11:48 AM  
Blogger Ken said...

Fun was back in '88, '89, '90, the Blazers would be down 10 with 2 minutes to play and you 'knew' they were going to pull it out.

Fun was watching da Bears when the Refrigerator picked Payton up and carried him across the goal line.

Fun was even, forgive me for saying this, watching Sean Elliott hit the tippy toe shot to beat the Blazers.

Those things are fun. Watching a bunch of overpaid athletes thumb their collective noses at their fans is not fun. Listening to "CTC" was not fun. Watching a college team try to compete in the NBA was not fun. Knowing there is little chance of a victory on any given night was not fun.

We don't necessarily need "Bingo, bango, bongo." I'm certain San Antonio's fans have fun even while they just slog through win after win. I think what will bring the fun back, and what has been missing for a long while is a sense of pride.

Ultimately, fun is saying, "I'm a Trailblazers fan," without having to hear raucous laughter afterward.

12:05 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

Dave said...
Wins and losses don't bother me since we're not in contention, but you've got to admit it's pretty hard to have a ton of fun watching your best player not go for rebounds (or watching him get tossed for arguing a stupid call for ten minutes).

Not for me. I'm a fan and I see all that as a part of sports. There are cool players, hot heads, leapers, shooters, scrubs.... all sorts. To me, it makes it all the more interesting. Maybe I'm too easy to please, but being a fan isn't all about winning or a team of choir boys. Going from the toast of the town to the red-headed step child was interesting & enlightening as I watched the media and fair weather fans really turn on the team and I'll watch the same arm chair fans cheer as they go back up as if they had something to do with it. Fun fun fun.

12:18 PM  
Blogger Ken said...

BP, I'm not going to lump all players together on this point, but I am going to ask this: If the players don't care about the game, and there have been more than a few lately who haven't, why should I?

Tough love, buddy. I have trouble having fun watching a team that isn't having fun.

In fact, I won't even lay all the blame on the players. I think management has had a ton to do with attitudes the last three years.

12:26 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

In the NBA, land of the unconditionally guaranteed contract, every team has players who really don’t care. Some are all-stars and some are scrubs. I watched as Scottie Pippen, literally, “mail it in” during his last year with this team in the playoffs. He was a quitter and I was greatly disappointed. The better part of the last two seasons have been “evaluation” years and not playing to win years. If I were to cease to be a fan as there are player(s) who don’t give 100%, I’d never be a fan. I see it as a part of the game. A bad part that needs to be changed, but a part of all pro sports, let alone the NBA.

But in a larger sense, this has been a dysfunctional team in almost all areas for a number of years. That said, so are probably 60% of all sports franchises. Only about 10% really have it all together and the remaining 30% do an OK job. It’s part & parcel of pro sports these days. It’s driven some fans back to college sports. But I’ll take it as it comes, and hope for the best. I even find it interesting comparing us to teams that ‘do it right’. It also part of what drives message boards and blogs like this.

1:09 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Toast, you have an AMAZING blog! I am in awe. Could you shoot me an e-mail, as I have something to ask you. (Couldn't find any e-mail on your site.)


1:11 PM  
Anonymous Dr. Dave said...

Like The Prophet, I enjoy all sports. Fortunately basketball is not my whole life.

A couple thoughts on FUN:

One of the great things about Terry Porter was his wonderful sense of humor. Remember those crazy faces he'd make after a 'bad' call or a clutch three? It must have been awesome to have him in the locker room.

Steve Blake strikes me as a player who truly enjoys playing the game. That alone makes him fun to watch. Would love to have him back.

Yes, we all need to lighten up a little. I appreciate that your blog, Dave, is peppered with some real comedians.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous fatty said...

10 yrs ago i would of taken
these blazers too seriously
but since i'm 10 yrs older
wiser and with a lovely woman
my opinions have changed
today i see it as this if
i lived in portland i'll be
ashamed to acknoweledge this
plight of embarassment but
since i live in nyc,i have
the dolphins,angels,flames
to worry about,i'm just glad
i did'nt jump ship when this
once proud franchise(team glory)
referred to by the great
dick enberg will be back
on top again granted on how
bad we do this season-17-24
wins should do the trick go
with the kids nate bleep
fatbo*miles go young the proof
will be in the pudding.....

2:50 PM  
Blogger BLAZER PROPHET said...

Yes, lovely woman can cause one to change opinions about a lot of things.

3:07 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

I don't think having Fun watching a game or playing a game is fundamental to wins and losses. But, if you really pay attention, people who are having fun are usually doing better at the game. I think last year had our team not have just given up after D. Miles injury earlier in the season we probably would have had another 10 wins. People who are having fun are looser and all their actions are performed in a more natural manner. Whereas people who are just "going through the motions" generally aren't having fun so everything they do is so mechanical and lacking in confidence. I think we'll be in for a better season than most will predict for us because all of our players seem to be buying into the team and really seem to be enjoying what they are doing for the team this summer. That sort of attitude and staying loose will be good for a few wins we aren't "supposed" to get.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Yah...one could draw a parallel here to the U.S. national team. Those early 2000's teams had great talent, but they didn't look like they were having one bit of fun out there. Almost the first story out of the gates with this team was the camaraderie and the enjoyment the guys were having even as they worked hard and knuckled down on D. One of the things that has always stood out for me about D. Wade is the unabashed joy with which he seems to play most of the time. You can see it in every line of his body on both ends of the court. LeBron kind of has that too. Our guys haven't had so much, but maybe some of the new guys will, as you said.


4:24 PM  
Anonymous TwoDeep said...

As much as I like Nate as a coach, I'm thinking his style may not do much to promote a fun atmosphere. No matter the coaching style though, I think most players do have fun if they are winning and dominating. Nate is of course very dedicated to that end.

5:11 PM  
Blogger Scott R said...

i'm not thinking that any coach worth anything is a "fun" kind of guy during practice. It's not the coaches job. My coaches were hard-asses, but we still managed to have fun in practice because we enjoyed getting beaten down and becoming better players for it. So, while coach Nate is a supposed hard-ass, it's up to the players to adapt and have fun with the game instead of griping about how tough practice is. My words to them: "Life is tough. Deal with it."

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I think we are in good shape with the recently added new players:

Jack : Passion and Intensity
Roy : Appears to have fun and have the maturity to lead
Aldridge : Another exuberant and passionate fellow although he appears to be more of the quiet type on the floor

If some of the other players who have been in this enviornment can follow the lead of the young guys instead of bringing them down to their level -- we should be fun!

5:51 AM  
Anonymous jorga said...

Interesting post and interesting comments ... obviously fun is different for each of us.

I've been to some of those concerts and I didn't have fun. I resent having spent the money if the performer only goes through the motions.

I admit to being a drop-out Blazer fan; I don't insist on choir boys, but I cannot cheer for the jerks. I started paying more attention last year and I must have had some fun because I'm still hanging around.

I don't consider myself a fair-weather fan because I don't need wins to support the team, but I can't take 30 pt. losses, at least a whole string of them. For me to have fun I need to see hustle, effort, and interest. I don't need complaints about every call or egos that pout about playing time. What's important to me is "coming to play" every game even if your role is cheering from the end of the bench.

But isn't it fun being the underdog and coming up with the win? Those have to be the most satisfying wins for me.

10:04 AM  
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