Tuesday, April 30, 2002
Another year, another disappointment. How much more can Portland fans endure?
After the Trailblazers were ousted from the playoffs by the Lakers for the fifth time in the past six seasons on Sunday — swept away like crumbs on the kitchen floor — it’s no wonder fans have lost all faith.
Somehow, we thought this year would be different. “This isn’t the same team. This group is more focused.”
So focused that they couldn’t even salvage a win in the series. These guys didn’t even pretend to be contenders. They rolled over the same way they did in 2001, and the fans are hopping mad.
Eighty-two games is a long way to go to find out all the Blazers’ offseason changes added up to the same old thing: a slap in the face from the hated Lakers.
So after this most recent sweep, perhaps it’s time for some sweeping changes. As difficult as it is to admit, it may be time to dismantle this underachieving bunch and start from scratch.
Say sayonara to Scottie. Dispose of Damon and Dale. Bid bye-bye to Bonzi and reevaluate Rasheed. Help us find a ray of sunshine behind the pitch-black cloud that is the Trailblazers organization. Give us something to look forward to.
It’s time for Bob Whitsitt to concede that his gameplan has failed. Talent is nothing without character and the Blazers continue to prove it year after year. There’s a reason why this team earned the nickname “Jail Blazers.”
Maybe Paul Allen needs to reexamine the direction his team is going and trade Trader Bob. The once-great general manager has finally met a challenge he can’t overcome, and unless the past five seasons were just a fluke, he needs to swallow his pride and step down.
At this point, the fans don’t care who we get in return. As long as we have something else to talk about besides perennial playoff collapses. The pain is far too great — perhaps greater than watching a team go 20-62. In the case of the Chicago Bulls and Memphis Grizzlies, at least there’s an upside.
But sadly, there is no visible upside to this team. This bungling Blazer bunch has reached its full potential. And when a team maxes out at merely making the playoffs, that doesn’t give the fans a whole lot of hope.
Most Blazer fans would gladly give up their fifth or sixth playoff seed for a chance at a future. As the Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics and New Jersey Nets are proving in these playoffs, teams need to be torn apart before they can be built back up.
The stigma of being a “lottery team” is not what it used to be. What it means today, as opposed to 10 years ago, is that you’re building toward the future (unless, of course, you’re the Golden State Warriors).
My team, the Seattle Sonics, was a lottery team the past few seasons and turned its troubles into Rashard Lewis, Desmond Mason and Vladamir Radmanovich. And while the Sonics remain a far cry from a Finals contender, at least they have an upside.
It’s time for Allen and the Blazer brass to consider a new direction for this team. Losing to the Lakers every season and reliving the same garbage every year at this time is driving Portland fans batty.
The Rose Garden is going to be empty next season if a severe overhaul doesn’t happen soon. The fans need their hope restored. In the meantime, I’ll just stick to being a Sonics fan.
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