Step Up Your Game.

Tonight’s the night Blazer Fans.  Tonight we find out if Brandon and LaMarcus can play at a high level at the same time.  As a Laker Fan I’m pulling for it. I’m also pulling for Gerald Wallace to paint his face blue and go “William Wallace” on Jason Terry.

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s easy to be a Laker Fan in Portland, Oregon. This is mostly because Blazer/Laker rivalry only runs one direction; the success of the Blazers doesn’t make Laker fans angry.

I actually enjoy watching the Blazers win. It makes me feel good to see the little guy break someone’s nose on occasion. Portland has a team that’s incredibly unique; they are successful without being insufferable.

This has a lot to do with the team’s accurate self perception; they don’t act any better than they are and they don’t let anybody push them around.  I think they deserve fans to match. Follow me on this:

When you find a team that no one hates it’s usually because they are so terrible you pity them… unless that team is the Clippers, and in that case even your home city despises you.  The Blazers aren’t hated, yet they win consistently.

If the Blazers keep winning, the love won’t last unless Blazer Fans take a few steps to broaden their horizons. Eventually this team is going to win the big dance again, and when it does, the fans have to be prepared to step into the national spotlight in a way that doesn’t embarrass them.

Here are some things that Blazer Fans are going to have to do to fit in among the ranks of the basketball fan elite.

Do throw heavier objects in the direction of Mark Cuban…
When a guy’s skull is made of thick granite you need to throw granite not wadded up paper . Always bring a gun to a gunfight.

Stop lying about “being there” the night the Blazers won it all…
I have rarely met anyone in Portland older than 40 that hasn’t claimed to have rushed the court in ’78, yet paid attendance was about 15 people and NBA popularity was at an all time low.  You can still have been a fan and listened to it on the radio fellas.

Watch more games that DON’T feature the Blazers…
Until you do, you’ll keep repeating these two mistakes:

Blazer Fans always like the Blazer’s chances ever year… even if the team is filled with players like Zach Randolph, Quintell Woods, and Darius Miles.

Blazer fans are shocked to hear that someone who lives in Portland isn’t a Blazer Fan too! You’re a Blazer Fan because you happened to be born in Oregon. If you moved to Utah you’d never become a Jazz fan, so stop expecting that everybody who moves here give up the history they have with a team.

Don’t be scared to trade role players…
Do you really believe there aren’t a lot of role players available? Don’t fall in love with players who only have “hustle and heart”, demand it from all of your players.

Stop hating on your best players…
If Brandon Roy had even one healthy knee he’d set fire to this city and walk away this offseason. Be nice, because you never know when you are going to need someone who just got healthy… Greg Oden.

Stop demanding a new coach when the team struggles…
Nate McMillan’s the reason you make the playoffs, not the reason you lose in them.  When your back-up center is your starting power forward, and your back-up power forward is your starting small forward, it’s the sign that you have no players on your bench.

Playoff games are won because teams have fouls to give and reserves to employ. Nate McMillan can’t possibly field a cohesive unit when he only has 7 legitimate NBA players on his roster. That number dwindles quickly as fouls mount.  Be grateful you have a coach of this caliber willing to coach with this few resources.

NBA fans understand that the overwhelming majority of games are won and lost by PLAYERS not coaches or wait for it… wait for it… referees.

Stop complaining about the refs…

NBA fans in every other city understand that refereeing has never been a science; it’s always been an art and there will always be inequities. Inequities have less to do with victories than shooting percentage and rebounding.

The truth is that savvy players understand that it’s impossible to call an even game, so they win the refs over and receive calls. Also, the home team ALWAYS has calls in its favor. This is why you work to have home court advantage.

Stop thinking that it’s your destiny to upset a higher seed…
Higher seeded teams usually defeat lower seeded teams because, most often, THEY ARE THE BETTER TEAM.

Blazer players don’t suddenly start playing poorly when the playoffs start, they start playing against better teams. Good players make other players play poorly in comparison. Blazer stars score less when they play better teams. It has nothing to do with Blazers “quitting” or “not having heart”, LeBron James is ACTUALLY THAT GOOD.

Stop using “momentum” as a reason for hope…
Momentum only means something when evenly matched teams are playing each other.  Struggling teams finish strong because they are fighting for playoff spots. Good teams take the last few games off.  The Blazers finish strong because they have to, not because they are “peaking”.

Be grateful that you are successful and relevant…
Portland has no reason to expect success or good free agents. Paul Allen’s money keeps you from being the Milwaukee Bucks or worse, The Minnesota Timberwolves. If his team were located in a major city, he’d be holding a fistful of titles.  Enjoy the fact that you live significantly better than Cleveland.

Ask ownership to promote the fans…
America thinks Oklahoma City has great fans because they wear free blue t-shirts?  Come on, Portland has an arena called “The Rose Garden” but it should be called “Thunderdome” because you leave the place feeling like you just saw Van Halen open for Kiss in 1978.  When the team starts promoting that, visiting teams will start dreading the trip north long before the game starts.

Start standing up for yourselves…
Especially in the whole “Oden/Durant/Jordan/Bowie debacle”. Greg Oden isn’t Sam Bowie until he gets cut or traded and Kevin Durant isn’t Michael Jordan until he’s won 6 titles. Until he does, point it out early and often. You have at least 2 years to defend yourself with that line, and you’ve had 3.

Stop taking garbage for not drafting Michael Jordan…
…because you also didn’t draft Scottie Pippen and Phil Jackson. It was a Bulls TEAM that won those games and they added a lot of pieces over many years. The Bulls didn’t win those championships because they were smart enough to pick Jordan over someone else, they merely took the best player left to them. You didn’t pass up greatness in a moment; they fell into it… over time.

Keep beating the Lakers…
… until they respect you enough to bring their A game on the road. The next time “idiot Laker Fan” gets in your face about hating them because they’re “successful” don’t make any stupid excuses about  them “buying success” or “arrogance” because your team does those things too… just not as well.

Give them the real reason you hate them. Tell them that the Lakers are completely disrespectful of not only your team but also your city and you’re team is man enough to punch them in the mouth when they do it. That’s why you sleep at night and they don’t right? While they’re stammering, drop a “truth hurts don’t it?” on them and walk away.

The Lakers may win more games but they aren’t any “better” than you,  live that way.

Keep your chin up…
Don’t forget Blazer fans, an accurate self-perception is as essential to forecasting success as it is enjoying it. If the Blazers win, that accuracy is what will keep you from going Hollywood… or Miami… or Boston.  Blazers by 7 tonight.

14 Responses to “Step Up Your Game.”

  1. Jordan April 28, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Hm.

    • Jon April 28, 2011 at 11:06 am #

      You know it’s time… Laker fan is on the way out, and Blazer fan is about to move up.

  2. WP April 28, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Great read. Very unbiased and down to earth. As a die-hard Blazer fan whom is guilty of many of the things you pointed out I am very appreciative of the many positives you reinforce with a third-party perspective. You clearly have distinguished yourself as an intelligent fan of the game. As much as I’d like to fault you for your team of choice…. sorry man, it’s nature… I totally respect and agree with all that you said. This is a great read and I hope that fans here in Portland can embrace the ideas.

    • Jon April 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

      I’m actually looking forward to the lockout. Some big issues will be addressed, the Lakers will continue to age, and the Blazers get to get healthy and mature. It will be nice to see Blazer fan on top again, they’ll appreciate where they are. Laker fans have gotten ugly sitting on the heap.

  3. ben April 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Spoken like a true Laker fan–someone who thinks that rooting for a team that has success somehow makes them more knowledgeable than other fans and entitled to talk to them like a condescending prick. The Lakers are successful because they have a strong brand, and that brand translates into $ for the league. That brand is strong because they have a lot of bandwagon fans, which makes many Lakers fans–like this author–absolutely insufferable. Why are they insufferable? Because they rely on strength in numbers, rather than a realistic perspective on how NBA basketball is played; they take credit for their team’s success as if they were on the court; they think they know something because they root for a front-runner, when in fact they are among the least knowledgeable fans out there (bandwagon fans are like that); and they force everyone else to listen to their inane trash talk and crap analysis–look at the comments section of every John Hollinger article ever written. I lived in LA for a year-and-a-half. I know a lot of Lakers fans. There are exceptions to the rule, but in general, Lakers fans embody the toxic combination of being wildly obnoxious and absolutely clueless about basketball, how the NBA works, and how not to look like a complete tool by putting those ridiculous little flags on your cars all along the LA freeway. Take your backhanded compliments and go back to LA.

    • Jon April 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

      It seems like you think someone is disagreeing with you about Lakers and their Fans being insufferable. I’m a Laker fan and I said it as plainly as possible. A lot of us also don’t pay attention till the playoffs, another reason the Blazer Fan is better.

      Pointing out what’s wrong with others never let’s us off the hook for what’s wrong with us.. I’m owning that the Lakers are entitled, ungrateful, and disrespectful. We purchase talent and act like we’re special. That’s called an accurate perception, saying that the Lakers are on the way down and the Blazers are on the way up is accurate too. That accuracy allows me to see my team for what it is. You might consider doing the same.

      • ben April 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

        What I’m saying is that YOU are acting like an insufferable Laker fan by writing this drivel and acting like Blazer fans should soak up your vast knowledge (no doubt imbued upon you by virtue of rooting for the Lakers), because we just don’t know as much as you. Since you seem incapable of seeing how YOUR PIECE that YOU WROTE embodies many of the negative traits of the Lakers and their fans that drive other fans (Portland fans included) crazy, your suggestion that I look to myself is quite ironic, especially given that your obnoxious little post is replete with not-so-subtle digs at Portland fans.

        • Jon April 28, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

          I’m making digs at all basketball fans Ben, myself Included, take a gander at the picture of jerk Laker fan i posted. I’m hoping you can look past your bias and see some humor and truth in this.

          I’m a Laker fan for the same reasons you’re a Blazer fan, I was born there and watched a ton of games as a kid. Liking a team because you are from that place doesn’t make you bad, it just means you are biased towards them.

          If you can’t see that I have genuine affection for the Blazers and understand that they are a very good team with a lot to be proud of then go ahead and keep complaining about how everyone disrespects you. I’m pointing out that that’s the kind of thing that keeps you from enjoying success.

          My post is about being the kind of great fan a great team deserves, the Lakers have exactly the kind of fans their team deserves… Terrible. Make the most of your ride to the top, I’m just hoping success doesn’t ruin Portland fans too.

  4. Rain Panther April 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    “NBA fans in every other city understand that refereeing has never been a science…” Sorry, but having lived in a few of those other cities, I call BS. Portlanders, while guilty of using officiating as a crutch, are far from alone.

    And, sure, “savvy players understand that it’s impossible to call an even game, so they win the refs over and receive calls.” But that’s only part of the truth. The part that may be somewhat fuzzy from the perspective of a Lakers fan is that there are certain “marquee” players who get a disproportionate share of those calls. It goes beyond savviness. And it goes to the heart of the real reason Blazers fans (and lots of other people) can’t stand the Lakers. It just gets tiresome watching star players like Kobe, who certainly don’t need the extra help, get babied by the refs. And then continue to cry and moan whenever the calls don’t go their way.

    It’d be interesting to see a companion piece to this one, but script-flipped, with a bulleted list of advice for condescending Lakers fans.

    • Jon April 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

      I love your perspective and it’s pretty accurate. Marquee players in major cities get calls (inequity), none more than Dirk in my opinion. Pau gets it as much as Kobe and if LaMarcus puts together another great season he’ll start gettin them too.

      As far as a list for the Lakers, You write it without cussing and I’ll post it here. Make sure you include “sending your GM to another team and having them give you their best player for free” thats way worse than calling the ref a nasty name.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Btw, Lamar gets calls and he doesn’t deserve to.

  5. Jeff Patterson April 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Jon,

    It’s okay to bash us misguided Blazer fans and root for the Evil Empire. But now you post a photo that in the bottom left has a clear gambling reference. Silly Laker fan.

    (p.s., I do like how Ben took you to task.)

    • Jon April 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

      That picture is the secret signal that Tim Donaghy is right! NBA reffing is fixed, and San Antonio is about to start getting Kobe calls! ;)

  6. Josh H April 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    Right on Jon.

    Anyone I know that likes the NBA either loves or hates the Lakers. And I’m fine with the hate. It’s pretty well deserved, with success comes arrogance and you can see that in many Laker fans and players. But what I don’t like is how other people expect me to be furious when the Lakers lose. I’ve taken plenty of unwarranted abuse from Nuggets fans, Spurs fans, etc. who just expect me to be arrogant and throw it in my face when the Lakers lose expecting to get a rise out of me.

    I love the passion of Blazer fans, but they are the worst when it comes to this. For the most part, they’re right (it’s actually just as tough being a Laker fan in LA, compared to Portland, because I get to see how arrogant and entitled most Laker fans really are). I just wish Blazer fans were more gracious. I can’t control how the Lakers conduct themselves, I can only be a fan.

    This years Lakers team is just as talented, “entitled, ungrateful, and disrespectful,” as they have been in the past. They’ll probably be in contention for another title this year, but their run is coming to an end. I root for them for the same reasons Blazer fans root for the Blazers- because I grew up watching them. I hope that as the Blazers start to have success (as they definitely will within the next 5 years), the fans are gracious, unlike most Laker fans are. But they’re off to a bad start.

    • Jon April 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

      Dude, if I was in LA we’d watch a playoff game and have some In-N-out! Thanks for posting. Take it easy bro.

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