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Thread: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

  1. #1
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    Default Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    http://www.oregonlive.com/sports/ore...140.xml&coll=7

    Who turned the Blazers around? The fans
    Monday, January 07, 2008

    It was family night out, so Trail Blazers forward James Jones took his daughter, wife and infant son to one of those Chuck E. Cheese's chain restaurants and arcades the other night.

    Turns out Jones is more popular and approachable than the chain's anthropomorphic mouse, because, as Jones put it, "I finally told my wife, 'I'm being a distraction, I'll be over in the corner, holding our son, and hiding out.' "

    The Blazers have won 16 of their last 17 games. The NBA franchise has undergone one of the most remarkable wholesale transformations in major professional sports. And the off-court stories that used to involve strip clubs, guns, middle fingers, pit bulls, drag racing and police, now instead begin with, "You'll never guess who I saw playing Skee-Ball."

    So who gets the credit?

    I suppose you commend general manager Kevin Pritchard for orchestrating draft-day deals that landed Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge. And for convincing Joel Przybilla that Portland was a better fit for him than San Antonio or Detroit. And for signing Steve Blake. And for re-signing Travis Outlaw, who was drafted by former Blazers' executive Bob Whitsitt (who also deserves a salute for the pick).

    I guess you could praise coach Nate McMillan and his staff of assistants for their patience, vision and brilliant work with the league's youngest roster. And you could hail team president Larry Miller and right-hand executive Mike Golub for keeping their eyes on the ball. And you could praise the players for their growth and heart.

    Also, you could give owner Paul Allen credit for buying the Rose Garden arena back and, also, for signing the checks, and for flushing his former management team once he realized it was poisoning the organization. And you could give the scouts, assistant general manager Tom Penn and support staff loads of credit, too.

    You could do these things, but you shouldn't until you celebrate the party most responsible for the Trail Blazers' turnaround.

    That would be you.

    Because you must realize you forced all of this.

    You decided that you had high standards. You decided that you wouldn't tolerate malfeasance. You announced, like no other professional sports market in history, that you expected more than athleticism from the players wearing your city's name across their chests.

    When Blazers disrespected fans with obscene gestures, you refused to buy tickets. When a player berated his coach, you were outraged. When management presented you with a phony smile and a hollow 25-point pledge, it was you who said, "Let me know when you get serious about this."

    You made character matter.

    You created the culture everyone is talking about.

    You, not the Blazers, dictated the terms of your relationship.

    So take a bow, today.

    Because the Blazers are inspiring, and formidable, and altogether impressive. They're turning heads, and giving you butterflies. They're athletic, and well-coached, and this season feels special. And while managers manage, and coaches coach, and players play, the franchise was mostly just reacting to you.

    It was you who wouldn't tolerate creeps in uniform. And you who ignored clever marketing, and insisted what was inside the package mattered more. And you decided you could live with as many miserable draft-lottery seasons as were necessary if it meant that things would change someday.

    When Greg Oden was picked No. 1 overall, you showed up at Pioneer Courthouse Square to let him know he was welcome. Now, you're casting All-Star votes for Roy. And you've apparently decided you've seen enough traction that you're willing to come back and sell out the home arena again.

    I met a 22-year old man named Tim Bush on Sunday. He's a college student, studying at the Art Institute of Portland. He also has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair since the third grade. When he was 16, the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to grant one wish for Bush. He told them he wanted to meet the Trail Blazers, see a game, and have his basketball autographed by the team.

    They granted his wish five years ago.

    Bush waited for the Blazers after the game, outside the locker room, holding a pen and a basketball. One by one, the players skated past, signing their names and hurrying off. Bonzi Wells told a joke, then signed, and walked off, proud of himself. And then, here came Rasheed Wallace, who was told that there was a kid in a wheelchair waiting down the way, who wanted nothing more than a signature, and a couple of minutes of conversation with the team's best player.

    Said Bush: "I tried to talk to him but he just signed my basketball and looked at me like I was scum as he exited the building."

    Bush hates that autographed basketball, even now. He said it pains him to look at it. But you know, he can't stop looking at this 2007-08 Blazers. And every time he watches them play, it feels like wishes are coming true.

    Cheer yourselves today.

    You caused this.

    John Canzano: 503-294-5065; JohnCanzano@aol.com To read his blog, go to http://blog.oregonlive.com/ johncanzano; Catch him on the radio on "The Bald-Faced Truth" from 6-8 p.m. weekdays on KXL (750)

  2. #2

    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Thanks, Roy.
    And I won't be here to see the day
    It all dries up and blows away
    I'd hang around just to see
    But they never had much use for me
    In Levelland. (James McMurtry)

  3. #3
    Get well PG! QuickRelease's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    The loudest message the fans can send that enough is enough, is the color green (empty green seats, and missing green backs). I do keep the hope that my beloved Pacers will start an upward trend. I think this upcoming off-season will somehow redefine our franchise, but I'm not exactly sure how.

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    Member OnlyPacersLeft's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    wow...Bonzi i knew was kind of a jerk but damn rasheed...why is this guy such an ***? one day he needs to get caught blazing the ganja so he can get kicked out of the league.
    "GIMMIE DAT!"-DANGER

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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Quote Originally Posted by OnlyPacersLeft View Post
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    wow...Bonzi i knew was kind of a jerk but damn rasheed...why is this guy such an ***? one day he needs to get caught blazing the ganja so he can get kicked out of the league.
    NBA doesn't test for pot and I don't think a marijuana arrest would get you kicked out anyway.

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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    I suppose I sent the wrong message making this my first year to have season tickets, eh?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    When fans get serious about demanding character issues be addressed, then things can get done. But when fans get really, really serious and uptight about peformance issues, does it have the same good effect, or could it have the opposite?
    [~]) ... Cheers! Go Pacers!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Here's hoping Donnie/Larry somehow reads this and takes it to heart. I think such a change needs to occur here. Most of the time, winning cures everything. But when a team is constantly sandbagged by incident after incident like Portland was and now Indiana, winning can only do so much.

    Portland is a now an example of how sacrificing 3 or 4 years of winning in order to build a team with character guys can produce results -- and put butts in seats. I realize that the Portland GM worked some magic through great draft-day trades and that those most likely sped up the rebuilding process. All I'm saying is that it can be done.

    I read Tony Dungy's book last week (I would recommend it, by the way). In the book, he talks about how he helped turn around the Bucs. One of the ways he did it was by trying to instill character values in the team. He really emphasized the importance of players making a positive impact on the community. Guys like Derrick Brooks and Warrick Dunn especially took it to heart. He also said that he gives all of his players a list:

    "Five Things That May Get You in USA Today."
    1. ALCOHOL OR ILLEGAL DRUGS
    2. BEING OUT AFTER 1:00 A.M.
    3. DRIVING MORE THAN 20 MPH OVER THE SPEED LIMIT
    4. GUNS
    5. WOMEN THAT YOU DON'T KNOW WELL ENOUGH (OR THAT YOU KNOW TOO WELL)

    Reading that section of the book really made me smile, considering how pertinent it was to the Pacers. (Another thing that surprised me, was how he came to the Colts. After he was fired by the Bucs, Jim Irsay left a 15 minute message on his answering machine basically begging him to come to the Colts. His primary reason? Dungy's emphasis on character. After considering an offer from the Panthers, Dungy took the Colts job, mainly because of Irsay's desire to have a team with good character.)

    The Pacers need to find the NBA equivalent of Tony Dungy or they need to do what the Blazers have done. I really think that's what it's going to take to turn the team around.
    Last edited by Aw Heck; 01-07-2008 at 08:00 PM.

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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    I thought Sheed was a good dude, but apparently for once the media has it right. That's insanely low.

    The Blazers current situation is the absolute perfect combination of a lot of factors. A lot of teams wouldn't be able to turn it around if the fans demanded better and the results would be similar for years and years.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    What if Sheed just found out that a niece has MS? May not be the case but it maybe the case. Who knows, maybe the reason that he did not say anything was because he was afraid. I don't know for sure, but you never know.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Portland has made some terrific moves and had a fair amount of luck.
    But they were also either willing to suck for awhile or at least didn't
    cling to the notion that making the playoffs is the be all and end all.
    Maybe that was because they sold the Rose Garden out regardless
    and maybe not. I don't have a clue about that. But TBTP isn't or
    hasn't been willing to do so.

    Without an awful lot of freakish luck, you don't acquire stars without
    upper level, Lottery picks. You don't get those unless you suck for
    awhile.

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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    I think all of our guys are good character guys though, even Stephen Jackson was to a large degree.

    I defy anyone to tell me which current Pacer player - besides Jeff Foster - is a jerk when it comes to fans. Maybe a knucklehead, but no jerks.

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    Administrator Roaming Gnome's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Umm...The Blazers had good guys last season. Where were all these fans when they were losing?

    Also, when the "Jail Blazers" were in the WCF Game 7 against the Lakers in 2000, their fans were still showing up, selling the Rose Garden out!

    I'm sorry, I'm not buying this happy horse **** about the fans comming back JUST because they got rid of the a-holes on the team. If that were the case, the fans would have came back as soon as they cleaned house and that play-off run would have been in front of an empty @ss arena.

    The Blazers didn't become an embarrasment to their own fans until they started losing on the court....Then the fans started to get annoyed with the character of the team.
    ...Still "flying casual"
    @roaminggnome74

  14. #14
    Intuition over Integers McKeyFan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Quote Originally Posted by LoneGranger33 View Post
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    I think all of our guys are good character guys though, even Stephen Jackson was to a large degree.
    That's like saying most of the time, O.J. isn't violent.

    Cussing out coaches, incidents at strip clubs, ball hogging, and continued griping and complaining to the refs = small degree of character, IMO.
    .

    .

    .

    .


    “People talk about how quiet he [McKey] is, but he’s really been helpful. He gives a lot of insight to players in how to guard certain teams and what their weaknesses are. The whole team listens to him, and it makes my job a lot easier. Having players like him is what pro basketball is all about for me.” —Larry Brown

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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Quote Originally Posted by Roaming Gnome View Post
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    Umm...The Blazers had good guys last season. Where were all these fans when they were losing?
    .....
    Also, when the "Jail Blazers" were in the WCF Game 7 against the Lakers in 2000, their fans were still showing up, selling the Rose Garden out!

    The Blazers didn't become an embarrasment to their own fans until they started losing on the court....Then the fans started to get annoyed with the character of the team.
    The "Jailblazers" stuff didn't happen until AFTER the 2000 playoff run. And yes, the Blazers had good guys last season. But they also still had Zach Randolph, one of the last Jailblazers still on the team (Darius Miles being the other one). And it was only Brandon Roy's rookie year. Other than him, the fans didn't really have anything to get excited about. They did have a bad enough season to win the #1 pick, after all.

    I won't discount the fact that they're currently winning. That certainly helps. Good character guys on a losing team won't bring back fans. But I think the main attraction for fans is the fact that they now have hope. With Aldridge having a breakout season, Roy playing well, and Oden on deck for next year, Blazers fans have a lot to look forward to. With pretty much all of the "bad character" guys gone (Rasheed Wallace, Damon Stoudamire, Bonzi Wells, Zach Randolph, Ruben Patterson, Jeff McInnis, Qyntel Woods, and Sebastian Telfair), the promising young talent, and the Blazers' 25 Point Pledge, the Blazers have done a tremendous job of putting their bad past behind them and moving on to a better era. And I think the fans recognize that.

    However, if the Pacers ever find the need to attempt something similar, I'm sure they will have a more difficult time bringing back fans. For starters, the Blazers are the only pro sports team in town. There's no NFL franchise to distract fans or eat up money that could go towards Blazers tickets. Second, Blazers had the benefit of some amazingly good luck with landing the #1 pick and some savvy moves by their GM. I'm not so sure that the Pacers could ever be that fortunate.

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    Administrator Unclebuck's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Something really bothers me about the premise here. I've attempted to post in this thread but everytime I start a post, I cannot get my thoughts together. Let me repeat what I posted in another thread. But I still enjoy going to the games. I still enjoy watching the Pacers play, I still enjoy watching NBA basketball in person, so I don't plan to stop going anytime soon.

    I guess I'm not a true fan then, because a true fan would try and send a message by staying home. I guess I'm just selfish


    There are another 3 or 4 issues in this, that I might address tomorrow.

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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Something really bothers me about the premise here. I've attempted to post in this thread but everytime I start a post, I cannot get my thoughts together. Let me repeat what I posted in another thread. But I still enjoy going to the games. I still enjoy watching the Pacers play, I still enjoy watching NBA basketball in person, so I don't plan to stop going anytime soon.

    I guess I'm not a true fan then, because a true fan would try and send a message by staying home. I guess I'm just selfish


    There are another 3 or 4 issues in this, that I might address tomorrow.
    I don't think this really applies to die-hard fans. They'll be there and still watch games no matter what. This strategy applies to the casual fans who don't go to games because they're tired of "all those thugs" as they put it.

    What I'm suggesting is that if/when the Pacers rebuild (which I think they should), they should use the Blazers as a model to try to shed the "thug" image (whether it's justified or not) to try to win back the casual fans.

  18. #18
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck View Post
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    Something really bothers me about the premise here. I've attempted to post in this thread but everytime I start a post, I cannot get my thoughts together. Let me repeat what I posted in another thread. But I still enjoy going to the games. I still enjoy watching the Pacers play, I still enjoy watching NBA basketball in person, so I don't plan to stop going anytime soon.

    I guess I'm not a true fan then, because a true fan would try and send a message by staying home. I guess I'm just selfish


    There are another 3 or 4 issues in this, that I might address tomorrow.
    The Uncle Bucks are not what's going to keep a franchise afloat and selling tickets. Not only that, but what you also seem to be saying is you'll be there no matter what. So, if the Pacers decided to blow up this team and go into a full scale rebuilding process, where we'd have high draft picks to use or trade, and then lose some obscene amount of games to begin with... you'll still be there.

    There's nothing wrong with that. It's really the medicine this franchise needs to swallow to make up for a series of bad judgements and bad luck going back several seasons now.

    The numbers might dwindle to the core BUT once there is some hope the numbers will start building back up. That's what is lacking now- hope.

    Not enough is being done to energize the fanbase. What little that has been done has had a short shelf life (because it wasn't enough to have legs). There are only so many drafts where you can pick in the middle of the draft and declare you somehow got a lottery pick there before the fanbase grows skeptical.

    This franchise is going to have to learn how to operate in today's market. That's going to take some changes at the top. Maybe the very top. But until that mindset filters it way thru the franchise, the franchise is in trouble.

    There is a certain percentage of the fanbase that understands that winning breeds winning... and losing breeds losing... and mediocrity breeds mediocrity. You have to do something to jumpstart the process. Travis Diener and Kareem Rush cannot be your 'major moves' in the midst of a franchise low point. You might get a little boost from the sunshiners for something like that, but then when reality strikes they'll sour quicker than anyone.

    Also, the fans have been demanding better and the franchise didn't listen. Anyone who has attended games in the last 2-3 years saw the declining attendance and heard the growing chorus of boos for certain players. The franchise moved so slowly on the situation that it's little wonder a sense of malaise has engulfed the area. TPTB have reaped exactly what they've sown and have shown no signs they know how to stop the bleeding.

    -Bball
    Last edited by Bball; 01-08-2008 at 01:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    If losing breeds losing, why lose to try to win later?

  20. #20
    Jimmy did what Jimmy did Bball's Avatar
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    Default Re: Here's how to turn things around -- demand better

    Quote Originally Posted by Mal View Post
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    If losing breeds losing, why lose to try to win later?
    You don't -try- to lose... you just (as a manager and/or coach) accept that will be the outcome when your team is inexperienced and undermanned as it grows and matures (and builds). Ideally, you enter a new season a couple of years down the road and your hard work shows itself and you start winning. Maybe you reach the point your team is ready for a new coach to jumpstart that winning attitude.

    Really, the addage that losing breeds losing is especially true of a team that has reached its ceiling and lost it's desire... passion... heart.... IOW, a team that has given up. A team that realizes the future isn't looking good for it.

    A good young team, with a good coach, can overcome that (or forestall it) because they should have some hope and collective will to do well (which may not mean 'win' but does mean getting more competitive and learning what it takes to win) not just in the current season but to make the current season count toward building for future seasons.



    -Bball
    Nuntius was right. I was wrong. Frank Vogel has retained his job.

    ------

    "A player who makes a team great is more valuable than a great player. Losing yourself in the group, for the good of the group, that’s teamwork."

    -John Wooden

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