Tempered by bouts of seasonal sports depression, Blazers fans often seem to be immune to bad news. This last week tested our resolve.
In a trade season that shouldn’t have surprised anyone but still punched us right in the feels, the Blazers are saying goodbye to four of the five players who comprised the modern day Dream Team. Nicolas Batum made it halfway back to France by relocating to the Charlotte Hornets. Wesley Matthews signed a deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Robin Lopez bobbed his way to the East Coast and the New York Knicks. LaMarcus Aldridge ended the possibility of him becoming the greatest Trail Blazer of all time by leaving Portland to join the San Antonio Spurs for four years and $80
The only remaining member of the Dream Team, Damian Lillard, literally carried the torch for Special Olympics Oregon on the day that news of Aldridge’s departure broke. It’s hard to not see the symbology in that.
As the Blazers turn to the next chapter of its legacy—one we hope doesn’t consist of four more years of rebuilding—it’s time to reflect, one last time, on the things we will miss the most about the Dream Team that was.
You might be gone, sweet princes, but here’s how we’ll remember you.
The time Nicolas Batum declared war on Spain with a punch to the dick
The shot heard around the world.
Representing France in the 2012 London Olympics, Batum reeled back with all his might and swung at the dick of Spain’s Juan Carlos Navarro. It may have been for France, but it made every Portlander proud. Take that, Rudy Fernandez.
What caused such a display of force? Apparently, the punch came after repeated dramatic flops from some of the Spanish players after minor contacts with the French team. CBS Sports has done some six-degrees madness to pin it all on Fernandez. I’m okay with that.
Best of all was Batum’s after-game interview with Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarkowski.
“I wanted to give him a good reason to flop,” he said.
A damn good reason if I’ve ever heard one. Au revoir, mon ami.
Robin Lopez’s relentless war with the NBA’s mascots
Robin Lopez started another type of war when he duked it out with Hooper, the Detroit Pistons’ mascot. Since the first blows were thrown, basketball has been in subject to an all-out blood feud. Channeling the Judge from Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Lopez spread his torrent of violence against the NBA’s most lovable and cuddly members across the nation.
Sometimes a man is remembered for his shoes. Sometimes a man is remembered for hair that looks like a character from an animated program that entertains the masses with laughs that come cheap and at the expense of contemporary political figures and fleeting moments in popular culture. Sometimes that same man is, well, remembered for inflicting his blood-filled wrath on lesser men in suits of fur.
The Man stepped out on the polished wood and surveyed the erupting and inaudible masses bleeding jeers of blissful and drunken fury from the platform that encircled the arena of blood, sweat and glory beneath his illustrated sneakers. Before him unfurled carpets the same crimson that came from those that had kneeled on the plains of some far-off land forgotten by men and God and all His good creations and had fell alongside their neighbors and come undone into pools of communal blood. He chuckled the chuckle of a man who knew the true name of Death as his opponent stepped through the parted waves that moved not unlike Moses’ hands. The fool stepped before him adorned in fur and crooked smile, eyes wide like one who has seen the face of God and not turned blind. The Man struck first.
Keep up the good fight, Rolo.
Just like Cupid, Wesley Matthews’ arrow lodged itself our hearts
More than any heel, I’ll remember Wes for his archery. He may love Iron Man, but I’ll always think of him as the Hawkeye to the Blazers’ Avengers.
After hitting the three, Matthews reached back into his quiver of invisibility, snatched a mighty transparent arrow and sent it flying through the air with his see-through bow. From practice to game time, this shot spawned a movement—#arrowlife. Matthews may have been launching a celebratory signature move, but his arrow flew through the air and into the heart of every Blazers fan.
I’d like to remember this over a torn Achilles heel. Thanks for everything, Wes.
Queue Bon Jovi.
The greatest Blazer that could have been
With nine years as a Blazer under his belt, LaMarcus Aldridge could have been the best of us. He was quoted as saying that, with the right contract, he wanted to be the greatest Blazer of all time. Since news of his departure broke, think pieces have busy picking apart his career, trying to determine how committed he really was to Portland and where he ranks with Portland’s finest.
Instead of that, I want to thank the man. Aldridge spent nearly a decade sweating and bleeding for the Blazers. He never won us any championships, but he proved himself to be somebody who cared about winning and making the Blazers a genuinely better team. He may not be the number one, but he’s been our number one for a long time.
All that said, a man deserves the right to go his own way after nine years of commitment. Thanks for making the team great, LA. We’ll remember you for what you were, not what we wanted you to be—even though the two are pretty damn close.