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A Haters’ Review.


The love/hate relationship with sports comes into full blossom when a player leaves a team.

Some leave with remorse, some leave with bitterness. All agree it’s part of the business.

So what’s it about Portland that leaves such a bad feeling in some players? Why do some NBA guys take a shot at the Rose City on the way out when the rest of the world loves Portland?

More than a few examples of opening their mouths too wide comes from stars who put too much into it.

Raymond ‘Cupcake’ Felton is one of those players.

Portland doesn’t like point guards too sluggish to run the court with the big guys. If we want to see jiggly men slosh around the court, we’d watch the pick up games at a local gym and avoid the NBA ticket prices.

While few penciled Felton in as the long term solution at point guard, no one expected a seasoned professional to exhibit his degree of non-professional behavior.

You recall the advice given to all first time winners of important events? Don’t melt down on the awards podium. Act like you’ve been there before.

The actress Sally Field showed what not to do when she accepted an Academy Award with, “You like me, you really like me.”

Yes, Sally, Hollywood liked you. Hollywood loved you. You got it right in your movies and they noticed.

Not so much with the Ray Felton Show in Portland, not with comments that describe his time as a Blazer the worst time of his basketball career.

The writer sees worse times in store for Ray if Portland is as bad as it gets.

Another big eater gobbled up Portland before saying the city isn’t a good place for a young African-American man with lots of money.

Greg Oden said it on, but why? Because he didn’t have the guidance he needed, or thought he needed? He needed a veteran to show him the ropes of the NBA lifestyle? No, he needed more familiarity with Oregon.

The Oden story is old enough to warrant reflection, but not when it comes to the city that rolled out the buffet of love.

Instead of taking his injuries as a message, “weak knees need less stress, less weight bearing down on them,” Oden got big.

Shaquille O’Neal was big. Yao Ming was big. It was a big time, but not on fragile wheels.

Bill Walton had the best advice when he said Oden ought to quit the NBA, move to Hawaii, and lose a ton of weight. He didn’t say find a jam band and follow them on the concert circuit.

Easier said than done, Dr. Walton. Besides, if it’s not The Dead, why bother?

Over time the Blazers have found players who know the difference between Portland and where they came from. No one expects Maurice Lucas to walk through the Moda Center door any more than they’d expect Kevin Duckworth, two guys who understood Oregon.

Who on the current roster ‘gets’ Oregon? Robin Lopez looks like the right fit, but the career path of LaMarcus from role player to best power forward in the league has been great to witness.

Still, Most Oregon of the Portland Trail Blazer Award goes to Wesley Matthews, often referred to as ‘the undrafted Wesley Matthews.’

The undrafted status comes across as a burn, but the real burn is on every NBA team that passed on Matthews, then didn’t see his value later as a free agent. The Trail Blazers see his worth. He matches the opinion outsiders have of Oregon, that chunk of land between beautiful California and Seattle.

Once the Oregon vibe sinks in, you come back, or never leave.

Which one are you?








About David Gillaspie
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