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The Blazer’s Bait

Rip City Love Affair?

Rip City Love Affair?

The NBA needs an update on the benefits of playing in Portland.

Players have the wrong ideas about the Rose City.

Instead of letting the fallacies surrounding the great northwest ride another season, let’s clear things up.

  • Portland is out on the edge of nowhere.

This geographical mistake is easy to understand once you look at a map. Seattle is up in the far left corner. It’s long been considered the longest road trip in professional sports. Why? Because it’s the middle of nowhere and when you get there it’s raining.

How miserable is Seattle? Bad enough for their Super Sonics to seek greener pastures in Oklahoma, which might be a first if you’ve ever flown over the Sooner State. Those green pastures are football fields, not NBA arenas.

Seattle is so bad the Sacramento Kings dodged relocating there. Does this mean Seattle is a horrible destination? It’s not good when SacTown and OKC trump the Emerald Empire.

  • Portland is safe.

How safe? Proximity to Corvallis, the safest city in America, helps. Does that matter to NBA players? It should.

Come to Portland and play while you live a good life. Other cities can’t say that. Other cities and teams have too much baggage, like Boston.

The late, great, Len Bias was drafted by the Celtics and celebrated the chance to play with Larry Bird with a drug overdose. Former Celtic Paul Pierce enjoyed his time in Boston, but probably not the night he got stabbed. Early in his career someone took offense with him and knifed him.

Portland should have been on his radar after that, but when it came time to move out of Boston, The Truth went to the safe haven of Brooklyn, New York.

  • Play here and win a title.

Portland may not be a dynasty yet, but play for the Blazers and your chances of winning somewhere else improves.

Bill Walton won here, then moved to Boston and carved out another championship.

The loquacious Mychal Thompson moved from Oregon to LA and won.

Jumping Jerome Kersey hopped to San Antonio and won.

Clyde Drexler went home to Houston and won.

You can argue that former Blazers got lucky with the teams the joined, but give them credit for their vision. A chance to play with Bird, or Magic Johnson? Do it. A chance to experience coach Popovich? Yes.

Most important, a chance to be a hero in your hometown and play with your old college teammate Hakeem Olajuwon? It’s go time.

During this off season, expect contending teams to make a trade for a former Portland Trail Blazer. The Heat don’t have that lucky rabbit’s foot, so they’ll be vulnerable.

The newly reloaded Nets had Gerald Wallace but let him go. His good luck force is undeniable, first in Portland where his leaving opened the door for Damian Lillard, then in Brooklyn where he left and Paul Pierce came in with his Celtic crew.

Patty Mills on the Spurs will keep them in contention, but one team has the Blazer mojo more than any other. And it keeps getting stronger.

Look at the Indiana Pacers. They have Roy Hibbert, the center Portland chased and lost. Their true power comes from behind the scene with former Blazer GM Kevin Pritchard. He just hired former Blazer coach Nate McMillan.

With that move, Indy can hang their pre-chamionship banner: “Welcome To The Next NBA Champion Indiana Pacers (courtesy of the Portland Trail Blazers.)”

Once the leaders and decision makers inside the Rose Garden learn when to hold ’em, and when to fold, there’ll be a new Title Town USA on the rise.

Memo to NBA players: Come to Portland and join the parade. You won’t regret it.

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About David Gillaspie
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