Oh the season. Oh the season! Election or NBA, both are upon us. We're getting into the spirit by bringing you our season previews (with a little help from the presidents). One per day for the next 30 days—which will bring us to the Day of Reckoning. So please join us on the campaign trail as we shake hands, kiss babies and sink jumpers.
"If, by the grace of God, we have passed the worst of this storm, the
future months will be easy. If we shall be called upon to endure more of
this period, we must gird ourselves for even greater effort." - Herbert Hoover
For those of us who don't believe in any sort of cosmic plan for humanity, when science fails to give us answers, luck is about as close as we can get to a religious doctrine. Some people just don't have the cards stacked in their favor, and often, their misfortune cannot be explained through any sort of reason.
Herbert Hoover was one of those people. After winning in a landslide in the 1928 election, Hoover faced the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression less than eight months into his presidency. As we know from recent history, economic issues do not grow overnight; downturns, even when they seem to happen suddenly, are generally the result of a lengthy series of interconnected events, decisions and patterns. Therefore, the haste with which Hoover's tenure turned to total shite has to be seen as an enormous middle finger from old Father Luck. Of course, Double H didn't provide an ideal response to the situation, failing to improve matters with a strategy that included promoting volunteerism, raising tariffs and forcing the relocation of thousands of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who he claimed posed a threat to the domestic job market (sound familiar?). What we see in Hoover then, is a perfect storm of terrible luck and an inability to properly address problems as they arose.
The Portland Trail Blazers, over the past five years, have been cursed with the basketball equivalent of Hoover's luck, but they have also shown the same sort of failure in their responses. We are all familiar with that most tragic of NBA stories, the great Crash of Greg Oden before he could even get off the ground. The repeated knee injuries suffered by the number one pick of the 2007 Draft represent the kind of sustained misfortune that gives a team's fanbase nightmares for life. What might be more terrifying than the injuries themselves, though, is the apparent lack of competency the Blazers staff showed in dealing with them. In the past year, information has come out about just how negligent the team's medical staff was in properly handling Oden's rehabilitation. And we have to imagine that Brandon Roy—a figure not tragic to Odenian proportions, but still pretty damn sad—might have made a stronger recovery with a different medical team, as well. As an organization, the Blazers have proved unable to properly handle the twists of fate that send players and teams into the depths of unpredictability and struggle, just as Hoover was unable to get the country out of its financial hole quickly.
That said, it's worth mentioning that some of Hoover's policies may have laid the groundwork for FDR's New Deal and the eventual recovery. Who knows, perhaps the Blazers are setting a foundation for better times to come. But for now, the team is centered around one very talented big man: LaMarcus Aldridge. Beyond him, there are nothing but question marks. Nicolas "Nutshot" Batum continues to be as empty a promise as a debate talking point. Wesley Matthews continues to be as mediocre as his name implies. Rookies Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard could both be very successful NBA players (Lillard especially), but I'm not sure either of them is ready to step into a starting roster as quickly as they'll have to in PDX. I would LOVE to see J.J. Hickson continue his solid play from the end of last year, but I certainly wouldn't put money on him keeping it up (TWSS).
If nothing else, perhaps the most optimistic light we can shine on the 2012-2013 Blazers is that this is bound to be their lowest point. Getting rid of Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton and Jamal Crawford in the offseason was a testament of faith to the notion of rebuilding—and a smart one at that. This time next year, it's possible that the Blazers will have a Rookie of the Year starting at point guard and that they'll be going into 2013-2014 with another lottery pick or two. New GM Neil Olshey and new head coach Terry Stotts may introduce a new culture. The horizon holds rays of sunlight, sure, but the dark days are likely to last a bit longer. This season, like the Hoover years, may lead to better things, but it won't be a pretty process.
Rushed Pull-Up Jumpers
Pokemon who the team should adopt as its new mascot: Jynx
Headline we'll be most sick of reading: "Things not so Rosy in the Rose City"
Headline we're most looking forward to: "Nic Batum Releases Signature Line of Protective Athletic Cups"
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you enter the pearly gates?: "You know what would have made your uniforms better? If you 'put a bird on it'! Ha! You guys ever see that show?"