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Not The New Guys, The Blazer Quitters.

Quitters1The numbers don’t look good.

Eighty percent of last years Portland Trail Blazer starting five left town.

Of that 80%, half wrote goodbye letters to Blazer fans.

In their blind love affair with the NBA, 110% of the fans read those letters. Twice.

Do you write a letter to a former employee after you go to work for one of their competitors? As if that’s somehow a reference when you help your new boss thump on your old boss.

A future Blazer broadcast:

“Again, LaMarcus comes to town and drops another quad-double on his old team when he goes for 43 and 21 with 12 assists and 13 blocked shots. Mike, he plays like  man possessed every visit to Portland. He does the same when the Blazers travel to Texas. What do you make of it?”

“Well Wheels, it’s complicated, but I think it all started with his letter. It was picked up by every sports outlet from,, and to,, and They loved that side of the big guy. Then he got the other side.”

The other side? First, the letter:

Dear Rip City, Thank you!

Those two words on a page don’t begin to express the gratitude I have for the opportunity the entire Trail Blazers organization, my teammates, the media, and you fans gave me. The past nine years have been a blessing, and I will take all of the valuable memories with me as I head back home.

As I’m sure you can respect, my decision was a very personal one but not one I took lightly. Although I will be wearing a different uniform the next time I come back to Portland, please know that I will always hold my time in a Blazers uniform near and dear to my heart.

Your friend, LA



The other side is an interpretation of this nice letter from a disgruntled fan base.

OK, a few fans.

Fine, me.

Dear My friend LA,

If two words on a page don’t begin to express your gratitude, try three. Why not go crazy and write four, like “Thank you, very much.” Five can’t be out of reach, even for a Texas native. Gratitude isn’t bound by a word count, and you’re not getting paid for what you don’t say.

Thanking the entire Trail Blazers organization, teammates, media, and lastly the fans isn’t the best way to go, either. Throw a big enough net and you’ll catch everyone. That’s how big nets work. But you miss all the little fish that way.

See, LA, you’re not the first superstar in Portland. You may be leaving the way Clyde Drexler did by going back to Texas, but he actually went to Houston where he played college ball with Hakeem Olajuwon. And won the big one.

Clyde was an Olympian, one of the fifty greatest NBA players ever. He took the Blazers to two finals in three years. He was the All Star Game MVP, except Magic Johnson came back after his HIV retirement to take it away with a very sentimental encore.

A Texan all the way, Clyde wanted to leave and did it with straight shooting. He didn’t promise to stay and become the Greatest Blazer ever. He didn’t aim for the soft spot and pull at the heartstrings. His work spoke for itself. Every fan worth their headband knew they’d seen a once in a generation player, and Clyde did all he could do to keep up with Michael Jordan.

When Clyde showed up, Larry Bird said he’d make him an All Star on his team. Maybe he saw flashes of the late Len Bias in our Greatest Blazer.

Speaking of the Celtics, remember when you had those heart issues? Every Blazer fan feared you’d be the next Reggie Lewis. Or Hank Gathers. Fortunately you caught those heart issues in time. An other heart issue appeared at the end of this last season when you abandoned your team during the Memphis series. It wasn’t a Blazer heart beating in there, LA. 

As I’m sure you can respect, quitting on your team isn’t something to take lightly. Please know we will remember the last series of your nine year sentence in Portland. Thanking everyone in the metro area for their support doesn’t ease the pain of the decision you made earlier than you let on. It showed, LA.

We also had Bill Walton. He didn’t give a damn when he left. He was a bitter, broken footed man, but he brought a title here. You didn’t bring a title to Puddletown, big man. You’ll be remembered by fans of the team you win it all with. Then when you retire you’ll write a letter to them wishing you could have been on their team your whole career.

We’ve seen it and heard it, and still won’t care if you don’t win a title. You know what you have to do, LA.



“Is that why he torches Portland every chance he gets, Wheels?”

“Yes, Mike. It appears he’s got more heart than anyone suspected and he uses it to beat Portland. It’s like he’s spurred on to win big here by playing even bigger. There’s no Boom Shak A Laka big enough to describe his game now.”

“Where was it in Portland?”

“That’s what we all ask, Mike. We’re still asking.”



About David Gillaspie
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