Friday, November 27, 2009

Smilin' Jeff Pendergraph

It’s not often that you see guys smiling ear to ear after an NBA practice, but when Jeff Pendergraph walked off the court after participating in drills for the first time since undergoing hip surgery three months ago, the toothy grin plastered across his face was impossible to miss.

“I’m so happy right now,” said Pendergraph. “I’m like a little kid.”

It’s not hard to understand why. After being picked 31st in the 2009 Draft, Pendergraph went on to average 10.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in five games during the Las Vegas Summer League. After that it was on to Portland to start working out in hopes of being signed to his first NBA contract. But injury struck at the worst time. A congenital impingement was discovered on Pendergraph’s left hip, a condition that would require surgery. It was an inauspicious start to his NBA career.

But Pendergraph was still signed by the Trail Blazers even though they knew he wouldn’t be available for much of the season. That gesture by the team gave Pendergraph all the motivation he needed to push through hours of rehab while the rest of the team went about training camp. For a player who had experienced only one significant injury in his career, the process of getting back on the court was a long one.

“I think my freshman year was as long, about three months,” said Pendergraph. “This just feels a lot longer for some reason.”

But the wait has been worth it. Now back on the court, though in a non-contact capacity, Pendergraph is having the time of his life.

“It feels good, really good” said Pendergraph after his first on-court workout. “I might have done a little bit too much today but I couldn’t help it. My body wanted to go all crazy.”

And that’s Pendergraph’s new challenge: not going “all crazy” as he continues to work himself back into shape. The timetable for his return is still in flux, though Pendergraph has designs on being available by Christmas. Whether or not he reaches that goal depends on how his body takes to the work and how fast he can shake off three months worth of inactivity.

“I was feeling a little robotic,” said Pendergraph. “I might be thinking a little too much. I didn’t feel like my normal post moves, but I haven’t done those in a while either. I think once I get the rust off and everything I’ll be fine.”

He’ll have two of the better bigmen in the game to help him along. Listed at 6-9, 240 lbs, Pendergraph is a little undersized, at least as far as traditional centers go, but he doesn’t look out of place working on post moves alongside Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.

“Those guys are fun. It was like I’m the rook with the older guys,” said Pendergraph. “It was kind of fun to be around. Big guys have a thing, they kind of stick together. It was cool. They were all joking and ‘rook this’, ‘rook that,’ messing with me. I had fun. I was smiling the whole time.”

Smiling is something Pendergraph has been doing a whole lot these days. After a rocky start, what lies ahead for him in the future is giving him a much to look forward to.

“I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” said Pendergraph. “Yesterday was tight as heck. Yesterday was a great day and I was all happy, and then today they’re like ‘get in the drills’ and I was like ‘What? Yes!’

“Everyday is a new surprise. It just makes it so cool and awesome. I’m looking forward to being in the game and everything, but really I’m looking forward to tomorrow, seeing what I can do tomorrow.”

So are a lot of people.


Two reasons why I like Jeff Pendergraph

1) After we got done with our interview, the first thing he did was call his mom to tell her he was finally back on the court.

2) When asked about how he would have responded to being dunked on by Derek Rose, Pendergraph didn’t say he’d tried to go down and dunk on the other end. Instead, he said the follow:

“I would have told Blake to come bring him off a screen. He would have gotten … just pow.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

11.24.09 Trail Blazers Courtside

The regular triumvirate of Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Brian Wheeler returned to the set last night to resume Trail Blazers Courtside, your weekly radio/internet/cable television show devoted to all things Trail Blazers.

The November 24th edition was of the utmost quality. Nate McMillan and Travis Outlaw were both call-in guests and rookie Jeff Pendergraph spent the second hour in-studio talking snakes, why his car won't drift and evading jabs from Rice. It's worth a listen


Download Trail Blazers Courtside (Hour One) (38.7 MB)


Download Trail Blazers Courtside (Hour Two) (39 MB)

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maurice Lucas Continues To Battle

It’s easy to lose perspective during the course of an NBA season. Between practices, shoot arounds, film sessions, games, travel, appearances and the other ancillary responsibilities that overtake the lives of players and staff for the better part of seven months, it sometimes feels like basketball is the only thing that matters.

When the word gets out that Maurice Lucas, a man who personifies toughness, continues to battle bladder cancer, the game that seems so important seems a little less so.

Everyone in the Trail Blazers feels Luke’s absence, but for centers Joel Przybilla and Greg Oden, it is especially troubling, as Lucas works closely with both as the team’s designated “big man” coach.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Przybilla said. “He’s a crucial part of this team. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him. To me he’s not only been a coach and a mentor, but a great friend. It’s hard to hear he’s going through some tough times right now. He’s a great person all around and to have him not here, we’re definitely missing something. Every day you walk in the locker room or the practice court and you definitely feel his presence not being there.”

“He’s a rock here,” Oden added. “He’s the guy we all look up to because he’s the one guy on this team that has a ring in the locker room. He’s got a lot of love from everybody here in the city. We’re all praying for him, hoping he gets better.”

The news that Lucas has been re-hospitalized comes just days after the announcement that team owner Paul Allen is undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Mr. Allen and Coach Luke are going through this,” McMillan said. “Those are close friends, but you still have basketball to play. It puts everything in perspective. There are sports and there is a game, but we have some close friends who are trying to fight some things. You have to handle it all. It’s life.”

(Click here for a recent interview with Coach Lucas)

Oden Answers The Challenge

Last season, everyone wanted to dunk on Greg Oden. Some were successful, some weren’t, but at least one guys from every team tried. Rumor was that a few teams had even put out bounties on Oden’s head, with cash money going to those who managed to score a highlight on the big fella’.

Opposing players are still going at and dunking on Oden. It’s what happens when you spend the majority of your defensive minutes in the paint. But now, with confidence that seems to grow by the day, Oden is able to come back just as strong on the offensive end.

Case in point: At the 7:39 mark in the second quarter, Chicago’s Joakim Noah was on the receiving end of a fastbreak assist from Jannero Pargo that resulted in a thunderous dunk over Oden’s outstretched arms. The Bulls’ bench goes nuts.

“That hurt,” said Oden. “It was a tough play. He got me. There's really nothing I can really say other than he got me.”

If that play had happened last season, maybe Oden doesn’t respond. Maybe he wouldn’t have been confidence enough in himself or his game to come down and take it to Noah just as hard as he took it to him. But this season, Oden has been more than up to the challenge. On the ensuing play, GO took Noah straight to the post and finished from 10 feet.

“I definitely wanted to come back at him,” said Oden. “I scored the basket, but it definitely wasn't as strong as his. I think I ended up getting a little dunk later on in the game. We won the game so that's really all that matters.”

And that wasn’t the only time Oden answered a Noah make. On the four possessions that Noah scored, Oden answered back with a bucket of his own on the next play three times.

We were doing pretty well inside tonight offensively, so I think I do have a little more confidence with going back at guys,” said Oden. “When they come at me I need to come back and answer the challenge.”

Finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds to Noah’s 7 and 8, it’s safe to say that on this night, Oden was more than up to the challenge.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Q&A With Joel Przybilla

Standing in at a shy 7-1, Joel “The Thrilla” Przybilla has emerged over the years as a grizzled veteran on a young team full of promise.

Always a hard worker but never a prolific scorer, Przybilla is known for his shot blocking and rebounding abilities – a combination that has allowed him to fill an important role with the Trail Blazers. This season, Przybilla has once again embraced his role, coming off the bench and contributing a consistent 20 minutes and 8 rebounds per game. Teamed with 21 year old Greg Oden, the two centers make for a fearsome duo in the Western Conference, standing tall among the best big-men in the game.

Casey Holdahl recently caught up with Joel to discuss his place on a team that has high hopes for the 2009-10 season.

You’ve one of the veterans on this team and have been around longer than just about anyone else on the roster. How have you seen this team come together?

JP: You can see it by our play on the floor. We’ve always had a close-knit team, everyone enjoys each other. This year, throughout the preseason and the first couple of games, we weren’t playing that well because we’re still trying to figure out our roles. We’ve got a lot of guys on this team that know how to play and now we’re starting to realize this is what we have to do to win when coach calls upon me to get in the game. Everyone is starting to adjust real well.

You’ve transitioned from a starter to coming off the bench. How have you adjusted to that change?

JP: My role has always been to play defense, rebound, block shots. Any points from me are a bonus. My job is coming in and being a defensive prescience, and that never changes. Last year I was in and out of the starting lineup. Things can change. Right now I’m not starting but as the season goes on anything can happen. I’ve just got to be ready to play.

It’s a great luxury for Coach McMillan to have two starting-caliber centers.

JP: I think it’s big for us. Greg and myself, we’re more defensive centers. We protect and control the paint. We’re the anchors for the defense. Especially on this last road trip, the reason we won a lot of those games is because of our defense. The games weren’t shootouts. A lot of the games we held teams to under 90 points and in a lot of stretches the bigs on the defensive end set the tone. I think we’ve done a good job with that this year.

You’re tied for first in the NBA in rebounds per 48 minutes and eighth in rebounds per 48 minutes. What makes a player a good rebounder or a good shot blocker?

JP: I’ve been in this league for 10 years and for me, rebounding is hard work and determination. I’ve realized that I want the ball more than the opposing opponent or team, then I go out and get it. It’s like playing defense, the will to defend. Not everyone in this league can score but everyone in this league, I guarantee you, can play defense. But it’s the guys who want to play defense, who want to rebound, who want to take that charge, because it takes determination and will. It’s hard work when it comes down to it.

Shot blocking is a little different. Not everyone can block shots. For me, shot blocking is something I’ve always had a knack for. It’s just timing and studying the opposing teams. Knowing things like a player’s tendencies or plays that are run so you’re in the right spot at the right time. I’m not the biggest guy out there and I’m definitely not the quickest or highest jumper but I know how to be in the right place at the right time, and that makes a difference.

A lot of it has nothing to do with athletic ability. Like I said, defense comes down to effort. You may attempt to block a shot ten to fifteen times a game and you may only block one shot. That’s a lot of jumping effort and work to do that.

You’re a guy who never seems to shy away from confrontation on the court. Where does that mentality come from?

JP: I think intensity is part of the game. I’m very bullheaded sometimes, very stubborn. Sometimes I go against an opposing player who is the same way and isn’t going to back down. It’s like two sticks of dynamite.

I’m not going to back down from anyone. I may back down from people off the court, but when I step on the court I’m a different person. That’s just the way I am. I’ve always been like that. I just don’t want to be known as a soft player. That’s just not me. I’m not getting into it to be on Sportscenter. Trust me, I’d rather save my money and be quite and walk off the court with a win but if somebody is going at me or a teammate, that’s what gets me going. I see myself as one of the elders on the team and I want to protect my players. When you have a close group of guys and you’ve been around them so much and you enjoy them you don’t like seeing guys get picked on. You’re going to step up for them and have their backs.

Finally, word is you and your wife are expecting a new addition to the Przybilla family.

JP: I’ve been wanting a second child for a long time now. We’re expecting the first couple weeks in May, so we’ll be having it here in Portland. Don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, but as long as it’s healthy. I love my son Anthony so much that I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like to have another one. It’s exciting. My wife will be laying or sitting down and Anthony will go up and start talking to her belly. ‘Hello in there, this is Anthony.’ That’s what he says. He wants a sister. Mike Barrett has a daughter, Gabby, that Anthony knows, so he says ‘I want a little sister like Gabby.’ He says he’s going to take care of her.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't Play With The Game

The current iteration of the Portland Trail Blazers have never won in ORACLE Arena. Nate McMillan, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge: none have won as Trail Blazers at Golden State. Only Joel Przybilla and Travis Outlaw were on Portland’s roster the last time the Blazers beat Golden State 78-75 at ORACLE on November 3, 2004, though neither played. That was the season opener, by the way.

Why so much trouble at ORACLE? Who knows? Could be that the home team gets the boost when teams that play wildly different styles, as the Warriors and Trail Blazers do.

Looking at their statistics this season, it’s hard to imagine two teams more dissimilar. Trail Blazers allow the fewest points per game in the NBA (87.5), Warriors allow the most (113.3). Trail Blazers opponents take the fewest number of shots per game (32.2), Warriors opponents take the most (42.6). Warriors tally more steals per game than anyone in the league (9.55), while the Trail Blazers rank 25th (6.23). Basically Portland and Golden State ends up on opposite ends of any pace-dependant statistic.

None of this should matter tonight. The Trail Blazers have more talent and better chemistry. The Warriors are playing their first home game after 1-4 Eastern Conference road swing, which should help tilt the scale in Portland’s direction. The Warriors don’t really have the size to make the Trail Blazers pay for playing a three-guard lineup, though someone else besides Brandon Roy is going to have to take a turn getting run into my Corey Maggette. Ronni Turiaf is day-to-day, CJ Watson has the swine flu, Raja Bell may or may not have season-ending wrist surgery, Kelenna Azubuike is out for the season after tearing his patella tendon and Andris Biendrins is battling some sort of back/groin injury that has kept him out of all but four games this season, so Don Nelson will likely have only eight players available. On paper, this should be a win. An easy win even.

But there seems to be no such thing as an easy win Trail Blazers win in Oakland, at least not recently. If the Blazers are to get their first win in the Bay since 2004, they’ll have to take to heart the directive Coach McMillan gave them after the near-loss to the Pistons on Wednesday: don’t play with the game.

Another win on the road is there for the taking, but not if the Trail Blazers play with the game. They have to approach the Warriors like they’re the best team in the league, the only team. If the Blazers jump out to a big lead, they need to keep the pressure on until the final whistle. Finish out quarters strong, especially the fourth. It’s not exactly calm waters in the Golden State locker room, so don’t give them anything to get excited about. Make it about business, get back to Portland and get ready for a homestand with four winnable games.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Outlaw Out But Not Down

It figures Travis Outlaw would break his foot trying to make a play on defense.

For a guy who is maligned by his detractors for playing less than average defense, it seems cruelly poetic that Outlaw would injure himself on a routine closeout. And I don’t know about you, but when I think about the irony of a high-flyer like Outlaw being struck down on a play where he didn’t even leave his feet, it reinforces my belief that the fates do in fact have a twisted sense of humor.

So it’s easy to see why Outlaw would curse his bad luck. Things were just starting to come together, for Travis and the team in general, and then a snap; there goes the fifth metatarsal. And in a contract year, that snap could end up being rather expensive.

But that’s not the way Outlaw is looking at it. Ever true to his happy-to-lucky attitude, Outlaw is dealing with the first major injury of his pro career with aplomb.

“It’s nothing, you know?” said Outlaw. “You always have little bumps in the road.”

Traversing that rocky road is something Outlaw has been remarkably adept at throughout his pro career. When he played a total of 67 games through his first two seasons in Portland, he kept his head down and his mouth shut. When his name was mentioned in seemingly every trade rumor, he went about his business like a pro. When fans questioned his motives two summers ago after he joked about wanting more shots, he responded by taking fewer. And after the initial disappointment of knowing he would miss at least the next six weeks as the fracture in his foot heals, Outlaw has accepted the misfortune and moved on.

“Things happen for a reason, that’s my thing,” said Outlaw. “That’s how I’m looking at it. I feel like I got a lot of things to be thankful for, you know?”

Outlaw will have a pin inserted into his left foot on Wednesday to help the stress fracture heal. After that, he plans on picking up a hobby (“Maybe working on my car”), trying to keep his dog from doing any more damage to his foot (“He’s running over it all the time right now”) and rehabbing with the intention of getting back onto the court as soon as possible.

“We’ve got a lot of players stepping up. When I get back there’s not going to be some big rush to get mine. I’m just going to try to make sure I fit in. Do what is needed for the team to win.”


Monday, November 16, 2009

Video: Oden Blocks, Rudy Steals, Outlaw Dunks pushed a redesign ... sometime since the last time I checked out the mothership's homepage. Looks nice. Congrats to the folks at Turner, who are running the show over there, on the hard work. also pushed a new video feature, weekly Top 10 lists, recently, which beats the pants off of weekly power rankings, especially this early in the season. It seems like the whole point of power rankings is to start arguments, and I hate arguments. I like discussion.

Trail Blazers show up in three of's Top 10 plays lists this week, which seems about right. I think you could make a case for a few more, which I'll do in a moment.

First up, Top 10 Blocks of the Week, featuring one of Greg Oden's blocks against the Timberwolves at No. 7.

Missing: Oden's block on Chris Paul from the game on the 13th. And though one particular block isn't coming to mind, you have to think that Joel Przybilla, who has rejected nine shots in the last three games, would make the highlight reel.

Next up, Top 10 Steals of the Week. Rudy Fernandez's steal in the Nov. 8 game against the Timberwolves that lead to a Webster-to-Bayless alley-oop checks in at No. 2. Worth noting that while Rudy gets the steal, Marty and Bayless end up getting most the face time in the highlight.

Missing: I can't really think of a particular steal this week that should have made the list. This is where you come in. Put what steal you think should have made the Top 10 in the comments.

We end on a bittersweet note. Travis Outlaw's monstrous dunk over Rudy Gay in the Memphis game on the 10th clocks in at No. 7 in the Top Dunks reel (a bit low, if you ask me). The sweet is the obvious ferocity of the dunk, but the bitter is that it's the last throwdown we'll see out of Travis for at least the next six weeks. I hate the fifth metatarsal bone in the left foot.

Missing: Again, I'm drawing a blank on what Trail Blazers play should be included here. To be fair, there were some crazy dunks in the NBA this week, so one might be sufficient, though I'm sure you could convince me otherwise.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Outlaw Out Indefinitely

The injury bug has bitten for the first time this season, and he bit hard. Travis Outlaw, who is averaging 10.9 points and 3.8 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game this season, sustained a fracture in of the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot during the first quarter of Saturday's game in Charlotte. It didn't look that bad when it happened, but the x-rays say otherwise. Outlaw is heading back to Portland after the game for further evaluation

Yet to be seen what Outlaw's injury will mean to Nate McMillan's rotation. The second half of the Charlotte game will probably be a good window into how playing time will shake out in Outlaw's absence.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

11.12.09 Podcast

There might be a different tone this week among the fanbase after winning four straight, but Dave Deckard of and I, Casey Holdahl of, try to keep an even keel. Smooth.

This week Dave and I talk about the first two games of the current five-game road trip, Greg Oden's confidence, whether the three-guard lineup is here to stay, helping out Brandon Roy, LaMarcus moving forward and a Ducks/Blazers comparison. That's cross promotion holmes.

Download Podcast (42.2 MB)

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Video: Travis Outlaw Will Ruin Your Night

This is THE Trail Blazers highlight thus far. Travis Outlaw just obliterating the rim as Rudy Gay tries to keep his head from getting caved in. Here's a larger version.

Don't Feed The Jinx

I do a lot of standing around in the Trail Blazers locker room prior to games at the Rose Garden. Sometimes I’m waiting for a player to show up for an interview. Other times I’m just killing time before Nate McMillan’s pregame media availability.

Sunday night, I was killing time. All of the players were either out on the court, in the training room or at chapel and Nate’s pregame was still a ways off, so I stood in front of the white board reading the scouting reports of the opposing players. I do this before just about every game. Always interesting to read what people who really know the sport have to say.

So I’m reading the scouting report for each player on the Timberwolves, and after I’m about halfway through I start to realize something: these guys are going to have a heck of a time winning games this season. Al Jefferson isn’t 100 percent healthy. Kevin Love’s out, so his scouting report isn’t even on the board. Jonny Flynn is talented, but he’s a rookie who only played one year of college ball trying to learn the hardest position in basketball. Corey Brewer and Ryan Gomes are decent, but they’re complimentary players. The team as a whole is undersized and inexperienced.

While I’m reading through the reports, Joel Przybilla sits down at his locker, which is the closest to the white board where the reports are taped. I turn to Przybilla after finishing my overview and say something that, in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have.

“There’s no way we’re going to lose to these guys tonight.”

It’s not that I didn’t believe what I said. The Trail Blazer, at home, coming into the Sunday’s game having beaten the Timberwolves the last eight times they’ve played, should beat Minnesota easily. And they did, but it’s never wise to tempt the fates so brazenly.

Realizing the error of my ways, Przybilla did his best to negate the bad juju I created.

“Don’t jinx us man,” said Przybilla, knocking on the wood paneling that serves as trim around his locker. “Any team can get beat on any given night in this league.”

Very true, and very reassuring to hear from a player heading out on a five-game road trip. Three of those games (Memphis, Minnesota and Charlotte) should be wins, but you can’t take anything for granted in the NBA, especially on the road. Not to mention that the Trail Blazers haven’t won in Charlotte since the 2006-07 season, so that’s hardly a gimme either.

The Grizzlies might be 1-6, but they’ve got a whole lot of talent and have played five of their first seven games on the road, so they’re probably not as bad as their record would indicate. (By the way, Zach Randolph is tied for third on the Grizzlies in assists per game with 3.3. He’s tied for second if you don’t include Allen Iverson. Way to dime Z-Bo!)

The Timberwolves also have just one win, but they too have had a tough schedule and have played some good team pretty close, losing to the Clippers by three and Boston by two being the most notable examples.

As for the games against the Hornets and Hawks, those are going to be tough gets. Both NOLA and Atlanta are historically difficult places for the Trail Blazers to get wins. Luckily the Blazers will have a day of rest before each of those games, so hopefully they come out fresh and, especially against the Hawks, with something to prove.

So if you’re looking at the first extended road trip and have already penciled in a 3-2 record, consider knocking on some wood. Joel Przybilla thanks you in absentia.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

11.05.09 Podcast

After starting the season 2-3, everyone wants to know what's wrong with the Trail Blazers. Are there answers to that questions? Is the question itself even valid? Can you fit more than three rhetorical questions into one intro paragraph? No, maybe and heck yes.

Dave Deckard of and I, Casey Holdahl of, delve into the first five games of the season to debate what's working and what isn't. I'll let you decide if the answers are sufficient.

Download Podcast (42.2 MB)

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Wait Needs To Be Over

Watching the Trail Blazers through the first five games of the season, one could get the sense that they’re waiting for something to happen, something that will get everybody moving in the same direction. If it is indeed the case that this team is holding out hope that a spark will ignite the season, that expectation would not necessarily be without merit. It has happened before.

There was Travis Outlaw’s game-winning shot against the Grizzlies in early-December of the 2007-08 season. The Trail Blazers were 5-12 at the time and winless on the road in their first nine tries. They had just been blown out by the Spurs in San Antonio the night before, but that bank shot by Outlaw as time expired started something legendary. The Blazers would go on to win the next 13 straight and 18 of their next 20. That shot might have very well saved the season.

And of course there was Brandon Roy’s 30-foot overtime game-winner against the Rockets in the fifth game of the 2008-09 season. On the verge of starting the year 1-4, Roy’s high-arching attempt gave a young team something to build on. Roy’s answered prayer also started a run that would see the Trail Blazers win 13 of the next 16 games, putting them on course for their first playoff appearance in five seasons.

It is probably unnecessary to recap these events. After all, those moments have taken on lives of their own. They’re seen in commercials and reenacted on playgrounds. They hold an important place in the collective memory of Trail Blazers fans and, more importantly, the players. And while it would be sacrilege (and patently false) to blame those memories for the Trail Blazers’ inability to burst out of the gate through the first five games of the 2009-10 season, one has to wonder if reaping the benefits of a singular transformative performance in two consecutive seasons has brought the team to where they are now: waiting for a similar event to occur once again.

“I don’t know if we’re waiting on something,” said Joel Przybilla, “but if we are we better hurry up and figure it out. We’ve just got to look in the mirror, quit pointing fingers at what we think we need to do and focus on ourselves.”

“I think this is our next step to becoming a good team,” said Brandon Roy. “We can’t wait for the big bang to happen to go on these great runs. I think we have to figure out a way to be consistent at a high level. In a way it’s like we are waiting for that emotional charge to get us excited about the year, but we have to just develop it.”

At least if they want to make the jump from promising young team potential to legitimate playoff contender. You can get by on enthusiasm when you’re young, on passion when you’re untested. But it has to be about more than that to join the ranks of the elite. It has to be about confidence and commitment and routine rather than coincidence.

“The Spurs don’t have to have something great happen to them every year,” said Roy. Boston, they come in ‘This is what it is. We’re not waiting for a lucky shot.’ If that happens, then great, we get the win that night. I think it’s a little bit of a process because it seems like guys are waiting around for something crazy to happen. That can’t be what gets this thing started.”

Not any more it can’t. It has to be real this time, which is why it’ll be worth waiting for if and when it happens. Someone could hit a buzzer-beating halfcourt shot on Friday, sending the Rose Garden into a frenzy and the Spurs home to San Antonio with a loss, and it would be great to get the win and maybe it would pave the way for a successful season, but would that really help this team in the long term? What is the cost of getting over like that? Because eventually that potential game-winner isn’t going to find the mark. That much is inevitable, and to Roy, apparent.

“Bill Walton came in and said the good teams don’t win on adrenaline or emotions. He said the championship teams play consistent every night. You have to beat teams consistently and you have to be better. I think that’s what we’re trying to get to as a team. We can’t wait for this big crazy shot by me or Travis or Blake to get us emotionally excited about the season. We have to come in ready.”

It is a fine line. It’s looking a gift horse in the mouth or disavowing the notion that being lucky is in fact preferential to being good. It goes against human nature to root against good fortune, but that’s not really the point. Every team that has ever accomplished anything substantive has caught their fair share of breaks, but at some juncture, you have to be better than luck allows. Great teams win in spite of their luck, rather than because of it.

Which is why Portland’s 2-3 start, as painful as it might be to watch, could very well do this team a service in the end. If the entire team can come to the realization Roy has, that they can’t rely on a moment to change the course of their season, maybe they can meet or exceed the expectations thrust upon them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Podcast: Trail Blazers Courtside And The Jim Rome Show

Lots of archived audio from the last few days to catch up on, so this will be quick...

Trail Blazers Courtside was on last night on just about every medium imaginable. If you missed it on Comcast, or on 95.5 The Game, or online at you can now listen to it here. Jay Allen and Michael Holton hold down hosting duties, with Nate McMillan, Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Wendell Maxey all making appearances.

Here's Hour One:

Download Trail Blazers Courtside (Hour One) (38.5 MB)

And Hour Two:

Download Trail Blazers Courtside (Hour Two) (38.7 MB)

But there's more! Jim Rome was in town yesterday recording the appropriately named "Jim Rome Show" at the 95.5 The Game studios. He seemed to enjoy his less than 24 hour stay a great deal. The show was heavy on Trail Blazers and Ducks, which is surely good for ratings in this and all other markets.

I'll leave the Duck interviews to our friends down in Eugene, but as for apperances by Nate McMillan and Brandon Roy, we've got you covered.

Here's the interview with McMillan:

Nate McMillan On The Jim Rome Show (3.8 MB)

And here's the segment with Roy:

Brandon Roy On The Jim Rome Show (3.6 MB)

Enjoy. Go Trail Blazers.