In case you were doing the Mother’s Day thing and didn’t get a chance to watch the Portland Trail Blazers defeat the Denver Nuggets 100-96 in the Western Conference game 7 semis, you missed a heck of a game. In fact, if you’re reading this on the east coast, there is a chance you haven’t been able to watch any of the games in this series.
It featured two young, athletic clubs with a terrific futures. The same could be said about our Orlando Magic team, and their similarities with the Blazers are noteworthy.
I had a chance to attend a Trail Blazers game earlier this year and just like here in downtown Orlando, the fans and the environment are terrific. This is another city that’s hungry for a professional sports championship and just like us, their other major sports franchise is the Portland Timbers of MLS matched against our Orlando City club.
They have an excellent entertainment complex across the way from the Moda Arena, a hopeful vision of what the complex currently under construction across from the Amway Center could be. A buzzing pre-game environment with music, food, and plenty of space for fans to get ready for that night’s game.
The differences don’t end with cosmetics. Their head coach, Terry Stotts is also having a strong year, even sharing cross-conference honors with Steve Clifford for Coach of the Month awards.
They have what in my opinion is one of the most underrated duos in the NBA right now, Damian Lillard and CJ McCullom, who often get lost in the buzz of Golden State Warriors dominance and the over-covered Los Angeles Lakers Drama.
We’ve got Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, which while not be the same kind of players, are still capable of that kind of All Star excellence.
Because of our respective market sizes, we might not capture the same media attention being competitive playoff squads, that oter teams like the Knicks, Bulls, and Lakers gather being mediocre or even dysfunctional.
Just like the Trail Blazers, we should feed on that and play with their same kind of ferocity that the rest of the country is just now noticing.
I’ll be rooting for a Blazers upset against the goliath-like Warriors, not only because the Warriors have had their time on top of the mountain, but because I see a lot in the Blazers in our Orlando Magic and want to win their way in the years to come.