var yuipath = 'clientscript/yui';
var yuicombopath = '';
var remoteyui = false;
else // Load Rest of YUI remotely (where possible)
var yuipath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/2.9.0/build';
var yuicombopath = 'http://yui.yahooapis.com/combo';
var remoteyui = true;
Tonight, O Hardy Ones, we have a rematch with the Portland Trail Blazers at Conseco and we get to test our mettle (and Coach Vogel’s lineup and other tweaking) against a team with a winning record. Yup, our foe, the Blazers, are presently 26-23. They come to our ice-bound city proud and confident.
See, the Trail Blazers (26-23) presently hold a five-game win streak over our Pacers (19-27). Their most recent win came on January 22, 2011 at their arena, the Rose Garden, and the final numbers, to our chagrin, were 97-92.
In that game, the Blazers power forward, LaMarcus Aldridge, had his way with us, posting a double-double (25 points and 12 rebounds) to help rally the Oregonians back from a 16-point deficit. It was a painful loss for our Pacers and a game that a lot of us thought we should have won.
Danny Granger scored a team-high 24 points for us and Roy Hibbert recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. However, you may recall that aside from Aldridge’s theatrics, their Frenchie, Nicolas Batum, absolutely killed us. Batum nailed 4 of his 5 game-high threes in the fourth quarter when the Pacers did the proverbial fold-o.
But that was then and this is now.
Wednesday night the Blazers lost on the road to the Denver Nuggets 109-90. In beating them, the Nuggets shot 52% from the field and Portland gave up 64 points in the second half. That game may also have taken a bit of a toll on Portland. True, their second year guard-forward, Wesley Matthews, finished with 19 points, 17 of which came in the first half. However, Matthews reinjured an ankle in the second quarter and then banged knees with Carmelo Anthony in the third. Consequently, he’s hobbling around a bit. He’s still slated to play tonight, but he may be doing so wounded. Some Blazers we definitely won’t see are Brandon Roy, Marcus Camby, Greg Oden, and Elliott Williams – all being out with injuries. Thus it is an excellent time to hop on a hated and ailing foe and, hopefully, get a needed home win.
LaMarcus Aldrige had 18 points and 9 rebounds on Wednesday against the Nuggets and Nicolas Batum (who had a career high against us in our last meeting with 24 points) had 17. The Blazers point guard, Andre Miller had 11 points and 10 assists. If Matthews is sidelined, these guys, and Spanish sensation Rudy Fernandez are the Blazers that our Pacers will have to check.
Aldrige is a load and he’s capable of big numbers. He’s averaging 21.3 points and nine rebounds this season and has scored at least 18 points and 9 rebounds in his last three games, including a career-high 40 points and 11 rebounds last Tuesday in a home game the Blazers played against San Antonio. How do we stop him? Ask Sam Dalembert!
PTO Doings! A sparse crowd of determined idiots met early Monday evening, just before the ice storm hit, to raise PTO toasts to new coach, Frank Vogel, and to the Pacers’ future. Fortified by a specially purchased bottle of Grey Goose contributed by PTO stalwart, Zach “Red Foster” Brown, the consensus of the attendees was that the coaching change was a plus and that the Pacers’ playoff chances would be enhanced by the move. Then, after swigging down the Grey Goose, we all ambled over to Conseco to watch the 5:00 P.M. shoot around preliminary to the Raptors game. All I can say is that Walter McCarty and Dahntay Jones gave us a show and Roy gave us a little blue 55-numbered baggie thingie that looked sorta like a mockup of NBA shorts. I’ve since been throwing my dirty socks in it.
The Legends Hit “Legends”! Fellow 55er Colin Lott (he of the artistic face artistry and loud bellowing from Section 101, Row 9) and myself decided to eschew the Blue Flame Grill after the shoot around and scout out the vittles customarily served at the Club Level’s premier eatery, “Legends.” Our review of this dining experience follows:
Legends is THE Pacers dining experience. It is not for the hoi polloi as it set Colin and I back around $70 when our beverages and tips were factored in. Still, at $35 apiece, it wasn’t a bad deal considering it was an “all you can eat” experience. The basic price was $28 and Colin and I actually did eat all we could. If we had just washed everything down with water and stiffed our waiter we could have kept everything to around the basic $28 per meal pricing. Desserts would have set us back another $10 apiece, so we opted out.
The food? Well, it might have been a little warmer, but all in all it was pretty good. Certainly a cut above nachos or hot dogs from The Blue Flame Grill. Everything is buffet-style. Colin and I eyeballed it before presenting ourselves to the patrons and demanding to be fed. We were welcomed warily as our first questions related to pricing and whether it was indeed true that we could, in fact, “eat all we could” for $28. The preliminaries over, we were shown to a counter enabling us to look down on the court and turned over to our waiter – a guy who was amiable enough given the fact that Colin and I don’t come off from appearances as high-rolling big tippers. We got our drink orders in (soft drinks for both of us as I still had plenty of PTO Grey Goose percolating through my blood stream) and then were told to fill up our plates to our hearts’ content. We proceeded to do just that.
Legends is all buffet-style and has r or 5 tables, each with its own “theme”. There was Italian, Mexican, Chinese, American, and sort of a mystery one that Colin and I were too dumb to figure out. There’s also a cheese and rolls and appetizer one that we eschewed completely being big time eaters and eager to get to the main fare.
Anyway, we hit the American table first, which featured a Steamship Round of roast beef, grilled asparagus, some sort of cheesy broccoli stuff, and lemon-buttered potatoes. There was an Indian guy slicing up the beef to order and he was accommodating when Colin and I held out our plates and wouldn’t go away after he initially awarded us only 2 thick slices. We took our leave only after insisting on 4 or 5 slices apiece and then independently piled on our asparagus and broccoli sides without his assistance. We then returned to our seats and wolfed it all down, Roy’s legendary meal at Bubs serving as our inspiration. After our American eating experience was over, Colin and I opted for Italian, drawn to a trayful of Chicken Parmigiana, which was suitably breaded, cheesy, and tomatoey. Our sides were Penne Pasta Alfredo, roasted zucchini, and Caesar salad. We then shuffled back to our seats and methodically put our respective piles away, all the while watching our less well-fed peers in 55 beginning to shuffle into their seats. Colin and I proved again to be members of the “Clean Plate Club” and having devoured Italy, we were both thinking about attacking Mexico and China. Unfortunately, it was getting towards game time and you can only eat so much in the short space of an hour.
How was the grub? Pretty good, actually. Some of it was a little cool to my mind, but the Chicken Parmagiana was particularly good. Next time, I think I might just focus on the roast beef, which was juicy and medium-rare – exactly how I like it. Two or three platefuls of that would challenge Legend’s ability to turn a profit on the $28 basic cost.
As mentioned, we could have had a dessert – cheesecake, apple cobbler, Black Forest cake and carrot cake were featured on the menu, but it was close to game time and Colin and I were pretty sated. Another time perhaps. When we are less hurried and flush with cash. We chose to simply pay and move our bloated bods – belching and farting — over to 101 for the b-ball spectacle with the Raptors.
So, fun-seekers, if your constitution can’t handle The Blue Flame Grill, and you want a dining experience a cut above the typical Conseco fare, by all means park your buns at the courtside rail at Legends and gorge out. I want to go back. I still haven’t devastated China, Mexico, and that other mystery country yet.
But enough high-living! Tonight we face the Blazers!
FUN FACTS ABOUT PORTLAND!
How the Trail Blazers Got Their Name! The Portland team has actually been known as the “Trail Blazers” throughout its history. Two weeks after being awarded an expansion franchise in 1970, the team’s management held a contest to select the name. Allegedly more than 10,000 entries were submitted. The most popular choice was “Pioneers”, but that name was excluded from consideration as it was already used by sports teams at Portland’s Lewis and Clark College. The name “Trail Blazers” received 172 entries, and it was selected as the name. Personally I would have gone with a collective name, like the Magic or the Jazz. My choice would have been the “Portland Cement.” But I live in Indy and probably my vote would have been discounted for geographic reasons.
The Jail Blazers! Although management has pretty much cleaned everything up, at one time – not too long ago – Portland’s b-ball squad was a well-known haven for druggies, felons, and other assorted bad-boys and miscreants.
There was Ruben Patterson, who was signed by the Blazers after having previously pled no contest to a felony sexual assault charge that required him to register as a sex offender.
Then there was popular Lithuanian center Arvydas Sabonis, who after having a towel flung in his face by teammate Rashid Wallace, decided to leave the team.
Rashid Wallace, Amare Stoudamire, and Qyntel Woods, were all cited for marijuana possession.
Woods also blazed a trail for Michael Vick. Among his other convictions, he also pled guilty to “first-degree animal abuse” due to staging dog fights in his house. Some of these reportedly involved his own loyal pit bull, Hollywood. Both Hollywood, and Woods’ other pit bull, Sugar, were confiscated at the time of his arrest. Owing to his crime, Woods was given 80 hours of community service. As an additional part of his plea agreement, he also had to donate $10,000 to the Oregon Human Society.
There were other Portland misadventures. Rashid Wallace was suspended for 7 games for threatening a referee.
Zach Randolph and Ruben Patterson got in a fight during practice, after Randolph sucker punched Patterson in the eye, an injury which kept Patterson from making a meaningful contribution during the playoffs.
Police answering a burglar alarm at Amare Stoudamire’s house noticed a marijuana smell, searched the premises, and then found a pound of cannabis located in a crawlspace. Happily, the search was later declared illegal and all charges in the matter were dropped.
Guard Bonzi Wells famously told Sports Illustrated in a 2002 interview:
“They [fans] really don’t matter to us. They can boo us every day, but they’re still going to ask for our autographs if they see us on the street.”
Fan discontent with the Blazers thereafter soared. Despite the team continuing to post a winning record, attendance at the Rose Garden started to decline. In the summer of 2003, with attendance dwindling badly, the team going nowhere on the court and saddled with an exorbitant payroll, its GM resigned.
The following year, 2004, was marked by more troubles. The team’s record plummeted to 27–55 record. The bankruptcy of the Oregon Arena corporation, which resulted in the Rose Garden being taken over by a consortium of investment firms, further alienated the Portland fan base.
Fans were further annoyed by an incident in which forward Darius Miles (himself African-American) called the coach, Maurice Cheeks, a “******”. This incident was compounded by what many viewed as inadequate discipline for Miles, following press revelation of a secret agreement between the team and Miles that refunded to Miles the amount of his original fine.
Cheeks was fired and replaced on an interim basis by director of player-personnel Kevin Pritchard. That summer the team hired Nate McMillan as coach.
Despite the clean up efforts, the following 2005–06 season wasn’t much better. The Blazers posted a league-worst 21–61 record, attendance was low, and even that year was not free of player incidents. Miles, Patterson, Randolph, and Sebastian Telfair were all involved in either on-court bickering or off-court legal incidents. In addition, the team had a poor relationship with the Rose Garden management frequently complaining of a “broken economic model”. It was widely speculated by the end of that year that the Blazers owner, Paul Allen, would sell the team. Indeed, the team was offered for sale that summer, with several groups expressing interest. However, Allen decided to stick it out, spend some money, and make some draft-day trades. He subsequently took the team off the market.
From then on, things got better at Portland. And a lot more boring. Now they’re famously dull.
Meet Blaze and Beerman, Portland Mascots! Portland’s official mascot is “Blaze, The Trail Cat,” a two-tone silver-colored mountain lion, which has been the team’s official mascot since 2002. Prior to Blaze’s debut, the Trail Blazers didn’t have any official mascot. A popular unofficial mascot was the late Bill “The Beerman” Scott, a Seattle beer vendor turned cheerleader. Scott also worked for other pro teams, including the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners. He was hired to cheerlead for the Trail Blazers from 1981 through 1985.
The Beerman had two trademark calls during his vending days, most notably: “Freeze Your Teeth and Give Your Tongue a Sleigh Ride.”
His other one was the poetic call:
“He who has something to sell,
“And goes and whispers in a well,
“Will never gather in the dollars,
“As he who climbs the stairs and hollers:
Meet Przybilla “The Vanilla Gorilla”! Portland’s center, Joel Przybilla (In Poland, it’s pronounced “Pzhi-bi’-wa” but in Portland they say Priz-bill’-a), known affectionately as “The Vanilla Gorilla” has, according to the Blazer’s official website, “earned a reputation as a scrappy and aggressive defender whose strengths include shot blocking, rebounding, and setting solid screens.” A minimal point producer, Przybilla’s offensive role has always been to complement Portland’s true scorers LaMarcus Aldridge, and Brandon Roy. He also has a feisty grandmother-in-law.
In 2009, after Przybilla got into an in-game scrap with Tyson Chandler, Przybilla’s 83-year-old grandmother-in-law, Stella Stawski, called out David Stern for fining her granddaughter’s husband.
“The altercation started with the other young man,” said Stawski, who lives in suburban Milwaukee. “The first punch was done to Joel, not the other way around. … That was a totally flagrant foul.”
Stawski’s defense of Przybilla included a letter-writing campaign to NBA Commish, David Stern, objecting to the fine.”
In the game in question, Przybilla shoved Chandler with a forearm to the abdomen, which caused Chandler to lunge forward and smack Przybilla with a harder, more blatant forearm. The officials then went to the replay screen before deciding to eject Chandler. At one point, Chandler took a swipe at Przybilla’s heavily bandaged broken wrist. Along with his ejection, Chandler had to serve a one-game suspension. As mentioned, Przybilla was fined $7,500.
Stawski told the press that she was going to keep writing Stern until she heard back from him.
ESPN spoofed one of her letters. It’s a good read.