Let me begin by saying what you are about to read is an experiment. Besides writing my normal jazz CD reviews which I will post here at about 7:00 PM Pacific Time every other Saturday, I’m going to give a shot at writing something earlier in the day that may or may not have anything to do with jazz.
I am going to call this experiment “Morning Musings.” I know it’s not a very original title. Nevertheless, like all good non-fiction writing, it is accurately descriptive.
It’s far too soon to tell what this is going to become. This may be the only time you see Morning Musings here, or it may become a daily event. I rather doubt that, but we will see.
My intent is to write about a different subject each time, whatever comes to mind. There will be a minimum of editing, other than to correct typos or usage errors that slip past spell check.
With that out of the way, let us get on to today’s subject.
Last night, for the first time in almost twenty years, I watched a Portland Trailblazers basketball game. It was quite an experience, all the more so because it was not a regular season game but rather was the sixth game of their first round playoff series against the Houston Rockets.
At this point, I should add the fact that I had no idea who anyone was. When they cut to a shot of a coach, I had no clue if he was Houston’s man or Portland’s. The game was more than halfway over by the time I figured out who was who.
As for the players, thanks to their jerseys I could tell what team each was on, but I could not have named a single player on either side to save my life.
By the end of the game, there was one player whose name everyone knew: Damian Lillard.
In a very real sense, this was a do-or-die game for both teams. If the Blazers lost game six, they would have to play a seventh game in Houston. With the home-court advantage, Houston would have a better-than-even chance of victory. If the Rockets lost game six, they were out of the playoffs.
I did not see the start of the game. In fact, I ran across it by accident when I was channel surfing. I only turned to NBC after running through my favorites: BBC America, History Channel, SciFi (I refuse to acknowledge the current idiotic, senseless incarnation of their name), HBO and a few others.
If you had told me earlier in the day that I was going to spend two hours of my precious Friday night watching a Blazers game, I would have laughed at you. I did not know there was a playoff game that evening, so I had been hoping to catch the latest episode of my favorite show, NBC’s “Grimm.”
“Grimm” is both set in Portland and actually filmed here. At times, the producers seem to have gone out of their way to find an obscure locale to film a scene, and it is always an interesting challenge to try to figure out where they are.
Let me hasten to add that while the Portland setting is one of the main reasons I began watching “Grimm” when it first went on the air, the stories and characters are what have kept me continuing to watch for the last three years. “Grimm” is a very well written mix of science fiction and fantasy, with a large dose of urban police drama added to the recipe.
However, I digress. Back to the Blazers game. It was do-or-die for both teams, but the Blazers had the home court advantage. Despite that, the lead changed hands seemingly every other minute throughout the game.
Don’t worry. I am not going to sit here and recap the whole game for you. I would not even if I could.
With nine-tenths of a second left in the game and Houston in the lead by two points, Damian Lillard made a picture-perfect three-point shot that sealed Houston’s fate and bought Portland a ticket to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
It was a truly dramatic, emotionally charged moment, the sort of thing a good fiction writer might come up with. When Lillard’s ball swished through the net, the Portland crowd erupted like a human volcano.
And little wonder. Portland has suffered through a long dry spell. According to kgw.com, this will be the Blazers first trip to the Western Conference semi-finals in 14 years. I don’t know at this point if I will be watching their continued trials or not. Last night may well have been a fluke.
Somehow, I think not. This team is very different from the Blazers of the past. All to often before they would dominate the game all the way to the very end, then fall apart in the final minutes and lose it all.
That is not what happened last night. I readily admit to being not sports-minded at all prior to last night. Nevertheless, even to me it is obvious that both teams played with skill. Both teams desperately wanted victory and were determined to have it.
At one point, a controversial call by the refs seemed to have given the advantage to Houston. It was the type of demoralizing, maddening event that might have doomed the Blazers of old.
But moments later when it came down to that last nine-tenths of a second, the Blazers did not fall apart and give away the game like they have in years past.
Victory was anything but guaranteed. However, the team stayed focused, and they did what they had to do. Damian Lillard made the shot heard ’round the NBA, but the whole Blazer team made that shot possible.
Whatever the outcome of the rest of the NBA playoffs, in my book the Blazers have already shown us that they are true champions.
All they need to do now is bring home the trophy that proves it to everyone.
Thank you for reading this.
Wood Village, Oregon
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