Welcome to Rip City!


When Nate McMillan signed as head coach for the Blazers, he created a team policy to not allow headbands during games. Former Blazer, Rasheed Wallace, frequently took his headband off when he disagreed with a call and threw it on the ground. In the NBA, throwing your headband is an automatic technical foul, and McMillan feels that it's not worth the risk to wear one. This irritated many Blazers, who previously wore headbands and confessed distaste in post-game interviews when the media asked why headbands were no longer allowed. Yes, there are reasons to wear headbands, but as a former NBA player, McMillan refuted all arguments by claiming, “I never needed one.”

Gerald Wallace joined the team last week and had always worn a headband throughout his career. He showed no sign of his former all-star self in his Blazers debut last Sunday. Jokingly, Wallace blamed it on his headband but later admitted he wasn't serious. McMillan, wanting Wallace to return to his all-star self suddenly decided to lift his ban and allow Wallace to wear a headband. No teammates have joined Wallace; many Blazers used to wear headbands and may put one on soon.

~Jacob Rogers~

03.02.11

Fitting in With the Fans

You may all remember the hiatus Paul Allen created when he fired General Manager Kevin Pritchard last June. Telling him that he can finish preparing the team for the 2010 NBA Draft, then draft for us, and then pack his stuff and leave – real classy. Allen soon hired Rich Cho to fill Pritchard's shoes due to his good work in Oklahoma City.

The fans of Portland are infamous for acting as general managers. Newspapers, online articles and signs are packed with ideas directed to the Blazers front office. However, internal decisions are not based on popular vote, but that doesn't mean fans are to be ignored completely. When Cho came to town, he immediately promised a trade. Pritchard and general managers prior would publicize potential trades that in retrospect would have benefited the team greatly. Last year, Pritchard backed away from shipping off reserve guard Sergio Rodriguez and back-up forward Travis Outlaw for New York super star David Lee. Instead, Rodriguez retired from the NBA and went back to Spain, while Outlaw was basically thrown away. Lee went on to average more than double points and rebounds than Outlaw and fans erupted with disappointment at Pritchard.

Cho promised a trade at a news conference to win over the fans and it worked. By building relationships with the fans, he gained support, which keeps attendance high, along with the energy in the constantly sold-out Rose Garden. Cho gambled with support when he sent fan favorites Joel Przybilla and Dante Cunningham to Charlotte along with two future first-round draft picks. Normally when a Blazers fan favorite is rumored to be traded, the fans react with negative shirts or signs. The “Fire Whitsett” signs became so popular in the Rose Garden, fans were ejected for bringing them in, because he made trades and decisions that went against the opinions of fans.

Cho avoided this by asserting future plans for the Blazers at his news conference, something Pritchard and Whitsett failed to do. Cho said the Blazers weren't a title competitor right now but explained that we would be soon and deals needed to be made to get us to that level. Portland fans have always thought the Blazers were title contenders, even when they finished 21-61 in 2006. Cho took a different approach than Whitsett and Pritchard. Rather than play along with fans in wonderland, he told the truth. The truth that led to support in bringing all-defensive first team and all-star Gerald Wallace to Portland. Wallace wouldn't have earned the support on his own accomplishments, fans love Blazers and losing Cunningham and Przybilla normally would strike them harder than it did but Cho built a strong relationship and trust with fans that allowed him to work freely without being micro-managed by Paul Allen or the Portland fans. By being positive, realistic and futuristic, he controlled the news-conference, answering every question with a smile and told the fans the truth, not just what they wanted to hear. Which is what Portland needs because in a couple years, Cho will prove himself right. The top teams in the NBA feature players towards the end of their careers, who will retire soon and make way for the Blazers. Rip city, baby!

~Jacob Rogers~

02.28.11

Aldridge at his Best

Two years ago my roommate signed me up for a Twitter account, after I refused to do it on my own. But, people will go wherever people are. As far as Blazers fans are concerned, there is one upside to having a Twitter account rather than Facebook. Most of them have both, but are more active on their Twitter accounts. I’m sure many of us are Facebook friends with several athletes scattered across professional sports, but do you really get a sense of who they are from their pages?

After just five minutes of browsing through the Twitter accounts of the Blazers, I saw the soft, comedic side of LaMarcus Aldridge. Thanks to Sportscenter, I’d previously been taught that athletes solely use Twitter to complain about refs, David Stern and their personal lives. However, I’ve discovered that ESPN’s top-rated program was sorely mistaken.

David Stern announced Kevin Love would replace the injured Yao Ming as the last member of the Western Conference All Stars next weekend when the entire country was sure Aldridge would receive the honor. Rather than complain about the decision as Sportscenter would highlight, Aldridge simply joked about the matter with veteran teammate, Marcus Camby. “I wasn't an allstar because my dunks went down when you got hurt because I don't get spin lobs no more. Lol.”

Fans can relate to this, as Aldridge has refurnished his game to make him a complete power forward with inside and outside abilities. Seeing Aldridge joke about the Love situation was relieving; we know he deserved the spot and so does he. But the NBA isn’t about personal achievements; it’s a team game. He mentioned in a post-game interview that it’s a bigger deal to be in the playoffs than be a stat guy on a nine-win bottom feeder team. Well, he’s right.

His Twitter stream continues with conversations between Blazers teammates and other NBA athletes who graduated from his alma mater, Texas. Aldridge’s all around positive attitude translates to his on-court play. He doesn’t complain on or off the court, and I believe this proportion would exist in many professional athletes if you were to compare their court behavior and Twitter accounts.

Often times Aldridge is smiling and laughing on the bench and during interviews, staying calm. As a team leader, his controlled comfort level will help maintain the overall team chemistry. By thanking players for personal and professional reasons publicly, they will entrust him and enjoy being around him more. Anyone who’s played sports before can tell you that you perform much better on teams filled with players you like. His comedic behavior enhances this comfort level because he will show teammates they can open up to him. “What if you were getting a massage and your face down on the table? And then the lady who is massaging you walks around by your head to do your upper back. When she is doing your upper back right by your head she farts!” Not many professional athletes have posts similar to this, but these posts characterize who Aldridge is as a person. He attributed a blend of seriousness on the court with comedic relaxation off the court, which leads younger teammates through NBA adversity.

~Jacob Rogers~

02.15.11


Blazers Team With ShopIgniter, Increase Social Network


The Portland Trail Blazers look to record their 140th straight sellout tonight against the San Antonio Spurs, but apparently that isn't enough for the front office. The Blazers announced last Monday that they will team up with ShopIgniter to increase social promotions in their Facebook Store. ShopIgniter announced last month that they recorded a 400 percent increase in 2010, reaching 35 million fans in its Social eCommerce Network.

The Blazers have recently launched a Facebook store to accommodate their 200,000 Facebook fans who can now purchase clothing, accessories and tickets on Facebook. In this project, The Blazers will collaborate with ShopIgniter to use social media to establish loyalty programs, promote online sales, and increase ticket sales and fan base. The scary part there is how will the Blazers increase ticket sales when they've sold out every game for nearly four years? If they can't sell more tickets, then that must mean they will sell the same amount of tickets at a higher price. Kristi Wilson, senior director of Retail for the Blazers says: “This will be a natural extension of the existing social dynamics between fans and help us generate revenue through retail, ticket sales and sponsorship programs.” Yahoo! Everyone loves an increase in ticket sales for the one professional sports team in their city.

Remember the early 2000s, when you could go down to the Rose Garden an hour before tip-off and pick up a pair of tickets in the nose bleeds for $20 total? With a likely increase in ticket prices, you're going to have a hard time finding even one ticket for under $20. And for those of you who like to sit in the lower bowl, court-side seats were barely over $100 a piece, regardless of what court-side section you desired. Now you can only purchase some 200 level tickets for less than $100.

It's very unlike the Blazers to increase ticket prices during a season, so let's enjoy these ones while we can. The Blazers welcome the Spurs to the Rose Garden tonight where the Blazers have won the four in a row against Popvich's squad. Portland has also won five out of the last six overall against the Spurs.

~Jacob Rogers~

02.01.11

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