Hard as it is to admit, sports didn’t begin after your favorite team won it all, or your sports hero had a great game.
It just feels that way.
When your team or superstar is perfect, they become the prism through which sports pass.
In Chicago, the star is Michael Jordan paired with the 1985 Bears.
Who are they in Philadelphia? In Boston? More important, who are they here in Oregon?
In Portland, the team and the guy don’t have to do that much. The bar isn’t set too high, which might explain the lack of bitterness in local fans’ hearts following year after year of failure.
Other cities have fans who take sports personally. Their team and their star better be good enough to carry the hopes and dreams of their fans or else bad feelings flow.
Not here, though. Portland fans don't hate enough. They don't know how.
If they did, they’d be fewer retired numbers hanging in the Rose Garden. Did #22 win a title in the Memorial Coliseum or the Rose Garden? No. Then remove one of the fifty greatest of all time.
Please do it gently. There shouldn’t be animosity toward Clyde Drexler for joining the Rockets’ broadcast team after his time here. If you hate him for loving Texas more than Oregon, then you’d have to hate Mychal Thompson in LA too.
The right hate brings championships. The wrong hate breeds destruction. Boston fan gets it. Philly fan is too busy lashing out.
Portland needs a hate lesson to get it just right. For example:
Go ahead and hate Lionel Hollins because he’s got the Memphis Grizzlies into the second round and not the Blazers. He was once big in Portland, now he’s bigger in Memphis.
Hate on Jarrett Jack for looking great in the Golden State Warriors’ double overtime loss. If he can back Stephen Curry up, he can back up Damian Lillard.
Save some hate for Jerryd Bayless, still the same live wire he was here, except his season’s not over.
Once you fix on hating players who leave Portland, try hating them more when their teams keep winning. Then you’re ready for the main course.
Think of these tandems: Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The big and the little. Now prepare to dial up the hate.
The first two sets include the centers taken after Greg Oden in 2007. They are grown men playing a man's game. Noah and his hair-bump looks like an NBA samurai, while Gasol looks like the second coming of Arvydas Sabonis.
They are objects of hate because Portland will never see Oden and Lillard play together. The others deserve hate for playing so well, for being fun to watch, while Portland can only lay an Oden card next to a Lillard card and call a fantasy play-by-play.
"Oden at the top of the key, sets a pick for Lillard, turns and leaps from the foul line to catch the no look alley-oop over Dwight Howard," you say just before reaching for an old Blazer program to wipe your eyes.
You hate it when they make you do that crazy stuff and you’re not alone. Focus those feelings and you’ll turn the corner where all sports fan make the hard decision.
The team is down. It’s reloading, rebuilding, and worst of all, some new players are reneging on the fan/fan base contract. If the team floats the season out on an extended losing streak, what are fans doing in the stands? They're watching for the small things, the NBA moments that only happen between great players regardless of team record.
They're looking for professional and personal pride.
Season after downer season creates fans ready to hate a player who shows up fat and gets fatter, then gets in shape to point the New York Knicks into the second round like Raymond Felton.
Hate the low talking Gerald Wallace for making us think Brooklyn is better than Portland. He might have a point, but go ahead and get fired up.
The lesson should be clear by now. If you want a better team, be a better hater. Change Portland from an NBA backwater to a venom spitting hell-hole and the stars will come to shine.
Don't take this as a free pass to light a couch on fire or tip over a car. Leave that to the college campuses. It's not a license to riot, either.
Instead, it's an invitation to every NBA free agent who lives between the lines to play where the water flows clean, the air is crisp, and fan-love comes at a price: get better every day and make your teammates better and you'll see the perfect storm of location, sport, and player.
If someone asks about your attitude, say you imported it from Detroit, circa 2004.