Time has been neither sweet nor sensitive to Greg Oden. It seems fairly apathetic towards Brandon Roy. That excitement in the city of Portland, that Team Of The Future, Team Of The 2010s – that seems to be just another narrative gone wrong. We’ve held onto it, as we usually do, but as microfractures pile over patellas which pile over meniscuses, even the strongest of grasps let go.
Look, injuries are part of the game. We know they are. Sometimes they take greatness and confine it to a short period of time, as with Bill Walton or Elgin Baylor. Sometimes they just deprive us of greatness entirely, as with Shaun Livingston. We hate it, but again, we can do nothing, so we live with it. Barely.
But this? Hitting down again and again and again on a spot so sensitive, one that we cared about so much? And for what? So Durant backers can be vindicated? They already were. So Minnesota fans won’t feel bad about their GM preferring Randy Foye? They already do.
And so you take a team with so much promise, the Thunder that preceded the Thunder, the team everybody loved – and you drive nails into it’s knees. And that future, that wonderful, marvelous future, becomes the past before it even happened. Just skips that whole “present” bit in its entirety.
Remember this. Remember, as you see Al Horford and Joakim Noah deservedly earn a combined 120 million dollars, that for that special night, even in a loss, Greg Oden looked better than the both of them. Remember, as you watch the new and diminished Brandon Roy labor around the court, still scoring, still leading, still damn impressive, that the old Brandon Roy was Kobe lite for that magical 08-09 campaign.
Remember the Blazers. Their narrative was one to believe in, and that belief was found wanting. History will remember them as the team that could have been but wasn’t. But you know better. Remember them for the future that happened only in optimistic forecasts and Soccer Mom lairs, for the incredible will power, for winning games with their coach and half their lineup in a cast on the sideline. And pray that time’s twisted humor will somehow turn this around, that this somber chapter is just the crisis that precedes the climactic, heroic return of the Larry O’Brien trophy to Rip City.