Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Portland SuperSonics

Post #13 Topic: Return to Relevance

Forget Rashard Lewis. Forget him. He’s never been anything more than a good player on a bad team. On a bad Sonics team Rashard Lewis stood out as a playmaker, a high-flyer and a franchise star… But now he’s surrounded by talent. And not only talent, but perhaps the BEST CENTER IN ALL OF BASKETBALL. Yes, a bold statement. With names like Shaq, Camby, Duncan, Jermaine and… Biedrins??? (I don’t care what Don Nelson SR, Jr, Esq, Dr or PHD say, this guy is NOT THE REAL DEAL. He’s nothing more than a stream of European players that play such fundamentally sounds basketball that our American born players have yet to figure out how to defend… them), the best center in basketball is Dwight Howard.

And how much better is Dwight Howard going to look when he isn’t drawing triple teams in the post? The answer is both phenomenal and irrelevant to the topic, but nonetheless Rashard Lewis will be at best a good compliment to one of the best players in basketball, a role he was destined to fill ever since he entered the league as the 3rd overall pick by the Seattle Supersonics in 1998… in the 2nd round. Keep in mind that Lewis is from Houston, who had three first round draft picks that year. With all three they refused to take High School grad Rashard Lewis. Instead they took Michael Dickerson who was effective before traded to Memphis and had his career cut short by injury, Bryce Drew who was decent at a mid-major (Valaparaiso), and Mirsad Turckan who is now the leading rebounder in the history of the NBA; the Nicaraguan Basketball Association. In other words, perhaps Houston had an idea that this guy wouldn’t be a star.

To Rashard’s credit, the only decent NBA player selected after him was Cuttino Mobley. But before him went all-scrubs such as: Michael Olowakandi, Raef LaFrentz, Robert Traylor, Keon Clark, and Nazr Mohammed amongst others.

I am by no means attempting to imply that Rashard Lewis is not a good basketball player. I can name 28 teams that would love to have him on their roster in the supporting role that he has now assumed with the Magic, and which I believe he will excel.

But still, he’s only Rashard Lewis, and even with him lighting it up in Seattle, Seattle was not relevant. Even with Jesus Shuttlesworth slinging rock and the rock from the arch, Seattle was not relevant. Case in point: Seattle hasn’t been relevant since the roster featured Shawn Kemp, Gary Payton, Hersey Hawkins, Detlef Schrempf, and long-ball champion Dale Ellis. Not since the 8th seed, Dikembe Mutumbo backed Denver Nuggets ousted the #1 seed Seattle Sonics for the first time in NBA history have the Sonics been relevant (the Sonics were my favorite team growing up and I still have a Shawn Kemp jersey that I have worn once in the past 5 years, one time more than Shawn Kemp has worn a Shawn Kemp jersey).

Come November 4th, the 3rd regular season game for this year’s Seattle Sonics, the one-time residents of Key Arena (which was the backup arena when their home arena seemed to be blacking out more than a college Sophomore…There’s no place like Dome (see other notes)) will make a storied return to relevance. Recent talk has been of the team moving to Oklahoma, where the team would be the 1st to sponsor ride your tractor/sister to the game promotion. However, given that until recently no one cared about the Sonics, or whether they were in Oklahoma, Akron Ohio, or Azkaban prison, only on November 4th will the Sonics return to relevance.

The West is much weaker this year than last, and with certain trade demands on the docket (marion, kobe…) the west stands to grow even weaker. Surprisingly, the young Sonics could be in a position to make a strong run in the West and eventually find themselves with the Nuggets, Mavericks, Spurs and Warriors at the top of the conference.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your… 2008…SEATTLE SUPERSONICS:

At Center, standing 6 foot 9 from Kansas… NICK “always second best to ‘cuse” Collison.

At Forward, the round mound of INBOUND, Chris Wilcox

At Guard, at 6 foot 2 from Oregon, LUKE “I’m not your father, im your PG” RIDNOUR

At the other Guard, from Georgetown, Jeff “the 2nd best rookie in the lineup” Greene

Kevin Durant starting at the remaining forward position is single-handedly responsible for Seattle’s return to relevance. But not so much because of his skill, his potential or his collegiate dominance… More importantly, because of the date that his return will take place; November 4th.

The Sonics also have a formidable bench. Veteran stalwart Kurt Thomas, pesky guard Delonte West, softie but capable forward Wally (Last Name), and Earl Watson (who makes 6 million bucks a year, which he deserves about as much as Todd McCullough did after the Nets signed him citing his ability to guard Shaq, afther the sixers were mysteriously swept by the apparently impotent-Shaqed Lakers). But how good they can or will be is not what will usher in their return to NBA.COM’s front page. Rather, it is their opponent on November 4th… The Portland Trail Blazers.

Being a college basketball fan without the relevant game package on TV is somewhat difficult. You get to watch only those games that are aired nationally and have to read about the rest in the morning in class when you should be paying attention but really couldn’t care less whether the burden of going forward is on the prosecution or the defense… (Sorry I blacked out for a second… DID I SAY THAT? I take it back, oh how awful). Thus a NCAA fan typically doesn’t get the full hype of young stars until tournament time, or draft time latest. KEVIN DURANT WAS THE TALK OF NCAA BASKETBALL AFTER THE 1st game of his collegiate career. Daniel Gibson, who was slated to be a star, left after his freshman year solely to avoid the shadow to be cast the following year by Durant (I made that up but it sounds realistic). Durant averaged 26 pts, 11 boards, an assist, 2 blocks and 2 steals in under 36 minutes per game. On a team with four freshmen starters Durant was supremely dominant.

Immediately there was talk of whether Durant would surpass the previously assumed to be unanimous selection for the 1st pick in the draft, Greg Oden. Throughout the season Oden put up good numbers and Durant put up better. Oden’s STACKED Ohio State team reached the finals while Texas was eliminated in the 2nd round. But even after his team was eliminated and Oden’s Buckeyes tore through their brackets, Durant was still being considered for the 1st pick.

When the draft came, the Blazers had a tough choice. And for a team that has a history of draft-day blunders, they selected Greg “Sam Bowie” Oden. The Blazers selected a Greg Oden that would give them a front court of Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge, another 20 year old potential superstar, with a backcourt to be quarterbacked by ROY Brandon Roy. Things looked good for the Blazers to say the least and it appeared as if for the 1st time since Bonzi Wells and Rasheed Wallace roamed the sidelines that the Blazers were going to turn their franchise around.

All the while, buried in the background were those critics who would have taken Durant. The problem was simple… Franchise centers come along once in a blue moon, and Oden had the tools to turn into a Ewing, an Olawjuwon, a David Robinson… players that can change the landscape of the entire league on their own. But at the same time there was talk that Oden wasn’t healthy, that he was a liability and that Durant’s ceiling was much higher, albeit at a position much more populated with all-stars. But the Blazers took Oden, and almost on cue, Oden’s season was ended before it began and the questions started coming. The answer to the Oden/Durant debate which had only days before still seemed destined to be decided over the course of what was expected to be two glorious careers, was answered prematurely. Durant would become an offensive talent unlike many players his senior, and Oden would ride the treadmill at rehab, hoping to finally lose what has been a serial injury bug since he picked up the sport.

And at Forward, at 6 foot 9 from Texas, with a wingspan of 74 inches, with a vertical of three empire state buildings, with an inside presence, a post presence, a soft jumper, a consistent three ball, a nasty handle, and great court vision, Kevin Durant. Blazers fans will go silent thinking about what could have been had the Blazers taken Durant as the true experts cautioned was the wiser decision. All 34 Sonics fans will be sitting on their rain soaked couches, grinning, and thanking the Blazers executives for handing them Kevin Durant. The Sonics will win the tip and on the 1st possession, Luke Ridnour will toss a misguided alley-oop to Durant, who will reach backwards, spin around, do three flips, light on fire, make the sound of a gorilla and then dunk the ball shattering the rim and backboard to which Marv Albert will respond “He’s on fire”. The Blazers will then inbound the ball. Brandon Roy will let the clock run a few ticks and find Channing Frye (Oden’s replacement) inside, who will then throw up a brick you could build a house with. “He can’t buy a bucket”, Marv will say. But what he can buy with non-deserved contract is a subscription to NBA ticket which will allow him to watch every Sonics game of the season. That way he can watch his one-time potential teammate steal the ROY award and contend for NBA MVP. And at the end of the season, the Blazers will receive the largest thank you card ever made by Hallmark.

“Dear Blazers… Thank you for gifting us this return to relevance…”

- Love Sonics

Other notes:

Dome is where the heart is.

There’s no place like dome.

Daylight come and I want to go dome.

Dome, dome on the range.

Dome, dome again. I like to be there when I can.

I hate when people have different food agendas that I do. This weekend I really wanted to go to this hamburger place in Syracuse called Zebb’s which is so delicious that its being considered as the next pope and if not, to be installed as a saint. My friends wanted to get sandwiches. Unforunately (and for the better of society) I didn’t have my car and thus couldn’t factor into the decision. Needless to say my sandwich sucked and I spent the entire 4 hr ride home bitter that I didn’t get to Zebbs.

I think my roommate has Herpes… What a loser.

No comments: