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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Game report: Suns 106, Blazers 96

Courtesy of The Daily E-Mail, I got to sit in tonight on the final game of the season for the Trail Blazers -- a routine loss to the Phoenix Suns. It left the Portland squad with the worst record in the league, and one of the worst season performances in team history. Still, there was a healthy-sized crowd on hand, most of whom stayed and cheered to the end.

Not playing were Blazer "stars" (more like nadirs) Zach Randolph and Darius Miles, who were injured, were suspended, quit the team, or all of the above. Plus, they were busy primping themselves for their big after-game party at the downtown nightclub that they were advertising on thug radio last night (bring your gun).

The Blazers ran a small lineup all night, and Phoenix just gradually pulled away from them. The Suns' Shawn Marion, the one-man fantasy league statistics machine, had 32 points and 11 rebounds. Steve Nash posted a triple double. Even ex-Blazer Brian Grant hit a few shots when dared to do so, as teams usually do. (Boris Diaw was sick, and Amare Stoudamire still isn't up to playing.) After the first quarter, it wasn't much of a contest. Phoenix was up 88-66 at the end of three quarters, and the game was not even as close as the final score might suggest.

The Blazers had a few decent moments, but only a few. Forward Viktor Khryapa continued to look good, playing defense and snagging rebounds, but the rest of the team seemed to be just going through the motions. The rebounding was pitiful. Kid rookie Martell Webster told the crowd before the game that the Blazers would have a winning season next year, but that seemed pretty dubious. We kept hoping that this would be the night that Webster got hot and hit 10 jump shots in a row, but I guess that night is a ways off, if it ever comes at all.

With Randolph banished, Blazer backup center Ha Seung-Jin saw some playing time near the end. When this guy comes on the floor, everyone in the place says, almost in unison, "It's going to be a couple of years before he's ready for the NBA." Tonight he made you wonder if that's a valid assessment -- after he got hit in the back of the hands by both an excellent pass and a rebound opportunity, you wonder if he'll ever learn how to play the game.

This time last year, Blazer fans left the Rose Garden with at least a glimmer of hope. And look what happened -- an unmitigated disaster of a year on almost every level, with only the grit of coach Nate McMillan to salvage a season full of negatives. This year, the outlook is even more uncertain: The team is going be sold, and new management will have to decide how badly to blow the organization up yet again. The Blazers might even be moved to another city -- a nightmare for Portland -- but assuming that they stay, you have to wonder about so many things.

Perhaps the most depressing note is that the sale probably won't close in time to stop Paul Allen and his staff of underachievers from deciding what to do with the team's extremely high draft pick. Allen has lousy taste and worse judgment, and it would be great if the new owners -- not he -- called the next big shot in the talent category. Perhaps the best one can hope for is that Allen leaves the choice largely up to McMillan. After all, Nate may be the only suit returning next year, and that's only if the fans are lucky.

Allen wasn't around tonight, but the smell of his approach to business lingered. Let's hope some fresh air blows through that place when the season starts up again in the fall.

Given that we were sitting with the mere mortals, the photos taken with my clunker camera are hardly ready for Pulitzer consideration, but they may give you the look and feel of the game. Here's Sebastian Telfair in action:

Here's Webster at the line:


And the play of the game for Portland, Khryapa with a nice dunk:

Farewell to the Blazers, for another year, maybe forever. And goodbye Paul Allen and crew, we fondly hope.

Comments (21)

Shoot. Wish I'd known you were there, I would have stopped by and said hi. I was up in the club seats courtesy of Global Spectrum's giveaway. Almost talked myself into one of those sweet all-you-can-eat bracelets. I saw Marion's line. Good gravy that guy can play. I was definitely puzzled as to why he and Nash were still playing at the end of the third. But whatever.

Things are gonna get ugly for the Blazers very quickly. The rumbling right now is to expect bankruptcy very soon in a last ditch effort to force the creditors into offering more favorable lease terms, thus squeezing a couple more bucks out of the whole situation before ultimately selling.

Speaking of selling, you're about to hear Trader Bob Whitsitt's name surface as a potential buyer. While it's initially shocking, I think he could actually be the answer. I'm beginning to look at Allen more as a Steinbrenner-type and his GM's as just interchangable lackies. How else to explain what a trainwreck the Patterson regime has been. Trader Bob knows how to run an NBA franchise. He just needs to be able to do it without someone else's meddling.

The rumbling right now is to expect bankruptcy very soon in a last ditch effort to force the creditors into offering more favorable lease terms, thus squeezing a couple more bucks out of the whole situation before ultimately selling.

I keep hearing this, but I'm not believing it. "The creditors" of the team include the players, and the union would go ballistic. The league is not going to let the franchise go into bankruptcy, and if Allen wants to ever own the Sonics, he'd better not push that one.

Trader Bob would be doomed from the start. The thousands of fans who left because of him would never come back.

I'd like to see an ownership group with Porter, Drexler, Terrell Brandon, even Damon, and the local West Hills big shots, along with some national players. Rob Kremer might be able to pull it off. And with big season-ticket holders getting some sort of token equity stake, just to give it the slight aroma of Green Bay.

I'd like to see the whole operation pack up and leave town.

Portland should do like Green Bay did with the Packers, buy the team. That way it could never move, and the citizens of Portland could own a share or two of the franchise.

It works for Green Bay, why not in Portland? Hire compent management, in time Portland could have a great sports team. But keep the polticians out of having a say in what the team does. All they need to do is approve the purchase of the team.

SUpposedly, that "local' type of ownership is not allowed, or at least so said a respondent to a blog post I wrote on this very subject (http://antireinhard.blogspot.com/2006/03/how-about-making-trailblazers.html).

No wonder, as the "Green Bay" style of ownership smacks of pragmatism and civic collectivism, so therfore threatens 'America's Way of Life.'

Contrary to Canzano's lame analysis in today's O
Porter/Kremer and company's efforts are exceedingly viable.
Their ultra thorough, coast to coast, well handled structure building will likely result in a sound package and successful purchase of the Blazers.
Supporters should know the group is serious, well armed and well on their way to achieving what the uninformed Canzano dismisses.

As of yesterday the remaining hurdles appeared to be fully in sight with efforts building to make clearing then ever more likely.

This very good news for Portland and Blazer fans deserves to be cheered on and fully supported.

The Blazers make me sad. As a transplant from Chicago, I really wanted to get behind a new winning tradition, but alas I have to turn to a stock phrase for the NorthSide of Chicago: there's always next year.

In other Portland sporting news, the Portland Lumberjax (the western conference champions of the national lacrosse league), play their first ever playoff game this Saturday.

A really fun, and really affordable time. ($5 300 level GA tix with student ID).

Porter/Kremer and company's efforts are exceedingly viable.

Pardon my ignorance, but what exactly are Rob Kremer's business credentials? Has he ever been a part of a consumer/retail business? I honestly don't know.

I still think Scott Thomason is the guy for the job. He's a successful local businessman with big pockets and connections into the West Hills and other money (he either is or was a member of the U of O Foundation's board) and he's shown an interest in sports ownership in the past. And he knows a thing or two about marketing.

Reading Canzono's articles is like walking barefoot on barkdust.

I'm a lifelong blazer/basketball fan but the entire league is in trouble. With all the other sports/entertainment options it is getting more and more difficult to justify watching a game.

When the Blazers start acting like a team and playing like a team, I might take another look, but right now, the word "team" doesn't seem to be in their vocabulary. Now, the word "gang" on the other hand, seems to fit the bill. I try to be a supportative fan but I guess I just got spoiled years ago when we had a team that actually knew how to play the game AND the crowd at the same time!
I wonder if replacing the hardwood floors with blacktop would make them feel more at home. I know that it would make them look more natural! What a waste.
And one last annoying note: Why is it, that, no matter where in the world you're from, if you're tall, people seem to think you know how or can be taught how to play basketball? Wake up and smell the Rose Garden!

My prediction: for marketing purposes mostly the Blazers take Morrison, he goes on to be the latest "great white hyped next Larry Bird" to have a medicore NBA career (see Ferry, Danny; Van Horn, Keith; Laetner, Christian, do I need to go on with more examples?) The Blazers then spend the next several years regreting that they passed on Brandon Roy.


Fair question about my business bacground, since most people who know of me do so because of my radio and political activities.

I have a BA in economics and an MBA specializing in finance, both from the University of Chicago. I spent eight years in Chicago working in the investment banking industry.

I moved back to Portland in 1990 to live in a place more conducive to bringing up a family. Although I have spent a lot of the time since then with my school reform, political and media activities, I continued to pursue a variety of business pursuits and investment opportunities.

We all understand that raising the necessary local capital to go along with the $100+ million in debt capital we have identified will be a challenge. We are very encouraged by the response over the last two days from the potential investors we met with.

Terry Porter is totally committed to making this happen. He is every bit the sterling human being that his reputation says he is.

We think the Blazers are too important of an institution in this city to just stand back and do nothing as it leaves.

Oh, Jack - I forgot to mention: it appears as if you got a partial shot of Terry Porter and me at the game last night. In your second picture, bottom right hand corner, you can see Terry's bald head and white shirt from the back.

Fair question about my business background.

Thanks Rob. I appreciate the response. I didn't want to come off rude. I was genuinely curious and feel better about your effort. I still believe Thomason would be a tremendous asset to any ownership group. But if you've got another way, I'm looking forward to hearing about it. Hope you can get it together quickly though, because I think Paul IS taking this thing into bankruptcy sooner rather than later.

The players would not end up being creditors because most NBA players are paid up by now. In fact, I believe most of them are paid in full by about midseason... they won't be owed anything until next season. Jack is right about Allen -- if he ever wants into the league again, he won't bankrupt this team.. but doubt he wants back in. By the way, Scott Thomason has more junk in his closet than Darius Miles. And good luck to Rob Kremer trying to find "local" money for this investment. It never has happened before and won't happen in the near future. If he'd look southward, toward California, there's money there -- if he gets to it before Paul Allen does. Porter would be an asset to any new owner as a front man.

Way to go Jack! THUG radio is dying, rightly so, which is why short, fat and creepy Paul Allen has BOTH radio stations up for sale.

He is a motivated seller because the rappers are killing each other two at a time these days. Enimen's cup holder, named Proof, was buried in Destroit after he got shot for shooting a fellow pool player in the head.

Yes, a simple game of Eight Ball can kill you in Motown.

Where is Marvin Gaye when we need him most?

Shot dead by his own son in his living room. So so sad. I miss Marvin.

The thing that really ticks me off as a Blazer fan is that the upcoming draft looks pretty paltry compared to years past. Although Morrison was a great competitor at the college level in the undersized WAC, I have to agree with Eric that he's more "great white hype" than anything. Having the 1st pick may be another ironic twist to this entire boondogle of a season. I say trade Randolph and Miles for future first round picks because they seem totally incapable of responding to Nate's coaching. Give Martel, Sebastian and the rest of the crew that really wants to play ball another year to develop. No matter how you slice it, it will probably take at least another four or five years of pain and suffering before we have a competitive team.

I have no clue about the ownership situation, but I don't think the team is that far from being competitive. By which I mean say 34-38 wins. Some of the young players may show leaps in development next year. Travis Outlaw seems close to "getting it," for instance. I really had my doubts about him early on. Martell is close. Sebastian and Jarrett Jack also have shown a lot, as has Victor.

The negatives are of course Darius and Zach, and (forget the blocked shots) the centers. C and PF should rebound and play defense (and stay healthy).

When you look at how Nate won in Seattle he had physical rebounders and enforcers like Danny Fortson and Reggie Evans. Role-players. "Tough guys."

We certainly don't need an unathletic diabetic small forward from a tiny conference whose primary virtue is the color of his skin. Let someone else take a chance on Adam Morrison. Good luck to them. The Danny Ferry comparison seems apt.

The best he could do would be to make it to the Dunleavy Jr. level. Not worth a high pick.

It's a side note, but - didn't Scott Thomason bail on Portland over a year ago for California...? I don't think he's even a PDX resident any more, and the dealership was sold long ago...

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