20 May 2014

[pdx] The Age of Drexler: When Portland Was Glidetown

3089.What. A. Season.

I wish it hadn't ended in a rout-ish ending, but what. A. Season.

Am I right?

It would seem the Blazers are entering, at long last, something of a Golden Age. Depends on how much you know. If you started following them lately, or are under thirty, it may seem like the first time they were big, big, big.

Well, there were three Golden Ages of Portland Trail Blazers. The first, of course, started with the 1977 Championship, during the days of Dr. Jack. After Walton and crew won the prize, for a few years, while some of the magic remained and Walton stayed ahead of injuries, and then after the Mountain Man left, it seemed possible they could return.

Portland's always wanted a dynasty. Not yet.

This, the Third Golden Age, is dawning under the multiple suns of Aldridge, Lillard, Lopez, et. al., great players, a tight unit, great and winning personalities. It's aborning, but I won't speak much more of it. I don't want to make the soufflé fall, as it were. We're paying attention, suffice as to say.

The Second Golden Age seemed to have it all. A tight unit, winning personalities, and a glittering style. All led by Clyde Drexler. And if one isn't familiar with Clyde the Glide, allow me to introduce you:

The Glide may now reside in Houston, his hometown, but during the day, he was the floor general the Blazers needed. Charismatic but still laid-back and smooth in personal style, he made the team watchable and was, to this fan, the glue that made the Blazers into the most playoff-worthy version since the First Age.

Number 22 still holds court in Portland, though. On Southeast 9th Avenue, between Hawthorne Boulevard and Clay Street, on the south side of the building that includes CleverCycles and the Helium Comedy Club, amid black and white bolts of the lightning he commanded at whim, Clyde prepares to slam the dunk.

The bolts are appropriate to his style, which crackled with raw energy.

Timing, though, they say, is everything. During the days that Portland was Glidetown, Portland had two more chances to get to the top of the hill: 1990 and 1992. In '90, they fell to the Pistons, and in '92, Jordan and the Bulls. You couldn't feel that bad about they losing, though; they played with heart and soul and chemistry and it was fun to watch them compete hard even though they lost in the end.

It was more fun to see them win, however.

It was, in a gestalt way, satisfying in more than one way in that last game of Round 1, where Lillard nailed that three-pointer. Clyde is now announcing for the Rockets, and just before that clock started, with the Blazers two points down and nine-tenths of a second to play, and it came from the voice of Clyde Drexler:

"Definitely watch Lillard for three."

And he called it. Wizard, I tell you. 

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