As a lifelong Blazer fan living in Los Angeles, I sometimes wonder which I love more: seeing the Blazers win or seeing the Lakers lose.
Don't get me wrong, I always want the Blazers to win. And I guess, if I had to choose, I'm always going to go for the Blazers victory. But there's just something about the Lakers and their fans that make me despise them with a bone-chilling hatred.
Obviously, the most glaring offense they've ever committed was beating us in the 2000 Western Conference finals. I'm firmly convinced that that loss in Game 7 changed the course of recent NBA history. If Portland had held on to that FIFTEEN point lead, we would have crushed Indiana in the Finals and Trader Bob wouldn't have blown up the team. We probably would have been able to win at least one more title with that squad, especially after such a confidence-boosting comeback. And Kobe and Shaq might have had their falling-out a lot sooner without championship rings to smooth things over. But we were never the same after that, physically OR mentally. It just seemed like the team and the town were scarred by that meltdown, and we never really threatened again. Instead, Shaq, Kobe and Phil went on to win 3 titles in a row, holding together their shaky partnership for several years before finally falling apart.
That was obviously the turning point for our franchise, and I think Jason Quick at the Oregonian already covered that downward spiral with an excellent article some time back.
The point of all this is that I have many reasons to hate the Lakers, not least of which is that win. But what makes it even worse is having to put up with their fans. I think LA sports fans in general are pretty annoying. For the most part, they seem to have this assumption that their town has a right to be the best, and should always be winning titles. But they only seem to care about their teams when they are competing for titles. And when they are good....EVERYONE is a Lakers fan. And they tell you about it. All the time.
But when they suck? Then it's a whole other world down here. And maybe the best part about Portland winning the lottery (along with Seattle, basically) is that our pick essentially guarantees that the Blazers will be a contender for the playoffs and championships for the next decade, while the Lakers are facing the same sort of massive rebuilding project that Portland endured the last few years. The difference is that LA has almost no long-term prospects of success. They have Andrew Bynum and Kobe. That's it. Odom is a headcase who's inconsistent physically and mentally, and Luke Walton is a solid role player at most. The rest of their team are a bunch of scrubs who are lucky to be a on a NBA roster.
Obviously, Kobe is still ridiculously good. And he's still got 2-3 years of top-tier basketball in his legs. Probably. But as young as he is in reality, on the basketball court, he's getting old. He's logged a lot of minutes in a lot of games. He can't keep this up for that much longer, and by the time Bynum gets really good, Kobe will definitely be past his prime. Bynum is a talent, but still very raw. He's still a boy. A big boy, to be sure, but a boy nonetheless. Greg Oden, on the other hand, is already a beast of a man, and there will be nothing sweeter than watching him eat Bynum's lunch four times a year for the next ten years or twelve years.
So yes, that draft lottery will go down as one of the greatest days in Portland history. But at the same time, for those of us unfortunate enough to have to put up with LA fans in their natural habitat, it's going to go down as one of the best days in Los Angeles history. For us, at least.
I'm looking forward to giving the Lakers a taste of "Roy to Oden" for many, many
God bless the draft.