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Once upon a team in 2003, the Trail Blazers made the playoffs for the 21st consecutive season. But while winning was cool, the personnel they won with wasn't appealing to many. The Blazers' roster was full of malcontents and more than a handful of people with rap sheets. So after taking over as the Blazers' GM in 2003, John Nash decided to revamp the roster with players that made fewer waves.
Portland hasn't made the playoffs since.
Blazer fans are now faced with the same dilemma Oklahoma Sooners football fans dealt with in the 1990s: Is the perception that the only major league franchise in town is a loose confederation of criminals worse than being forced to root for a bunch of losers?
|Trail Blazers: Past Five Years|
Last winning season: '02-'03
Last playoff season: '02-'03
There's no easy answer to that question, but what the Blazers have right now isn't going to work. The Blazers lost 55 games last season. And they already have surpassed that total this year, sitting a whopping 22 1/2 games behind Pacific Division leader Phoenix. Their roster has glaring weaknesses, including three guards listed at less than 175 pounds.
Starting small forward Darius Miles has feuded with coach Nate McMillan, as though it's McMillan's fault Miles couldn't hit a 17-footer if you spotted Miles 16 feet.
Another poor shooter, Sebastian Telfair, was drafted with the expectation that he'd be their point guard of their future, and yet they still felt compelled to draft Jarrett Jack the following year. And neither of them can bump Steve Blake, a player no one expected would last this long in the league, out of the starting lineup.
|And the nominees are ...|
The Clippers have escaped purgatory. We need a new team to mock. Check out the Page 2 essays on why the following teams may be the new Worst Franchise in Sports.
But the financial state of the Blazers may be the saddest part of their recent history. Forbes magazine says Blazers owner Paul Allen is worth $21 billion, and yet Allen says the Blazers are in fiscal trouble because of the difficulty of paying the loan on the Rose Garden. But in a submission to The [Portland] Oregonian, Blazers founder Harry Glickman pointed out that Allen negotiated that loan himself.
Matters aren't helped by the Blazers declining to partake in goodwill within their community. After sharing a passionate love affair with their fans for decades, the Blazers are no longer beloved in Portland. Not only did their previous roster offend the locals, but Allen hasn't developed the area around the Rose Garden as he promised.
The Blazers are losing games at a ridiculous rate, and losing money even faster. At least Donald Sterling was turning a profit when the Clippers were miserable.
Blazer-mania is now 29 years old. To Blazers fans, it must feel like longer.
Bomani Jones is a frequent contributor to Page 2. Tell him how you feel at email@example.com.