Jayne: Don’t fret, Blazer fans; it could be worse

Greg Jayne: Commentary

By Greg Jayne, Columbian Opinion Editor



I should have been a therapist.

I should have been a therapist who works in the Northwest and caters to NBA fans and specializes in talking people down from the ledge.

Because, as far as traumatic weeks go, this past one scored about an 8 on a scale of 10.

First, the Blazers hired a general manager, which was a good thing. They pilfered Neil Olshey from the Los Angeles Clippers, and that qualifies as a bit of a coup.

Olshey managed to make the Clippers relevant, a trick that requires some sort of wizardry, and his hiring was largely applauded by Blazer fans.

But then Olshey held his introductory press conference and professed an odd man-crush on Kaleb Canales, the Blazers’ interim coach.

He said, “I don’t see anyone bringing more to the table than Kaleb Canales.” He called Canales “my guy.” He said Canales’ “work speaks for itself.”

All of which is high praise for a coach who not long ago was well down the organization’s depth chart. A coach who guided a depleted roster to an 8-15 record over the final 23 games of last season.

Canales has, behind the scenes, received praise from players and assistant coaches. But suggesting that you can’t see anyone bringing more to the table means that you aren’t looking very hard.

This has sent some Blazer fans into a panic.

But don’t worry, I’m here to provide some words of comfort. Consider me the Coldplay of sportswriters.

Because Olshey’s performance — he’s a former soap opera actor, after all — was quietly brilliant.

By saying, “Kaleb has set the bar high for anybody who would like to compete for the coaching job,” Olshey was setting the bar for the organization. If the Blazers hire somebody else, then Olshey is implying that Canales’ replacement is an extraordinary find for the Blazers.

If Canales somehow ends up with the job, then Olshey already has told fans that the club is extremely lucky to have him.

I don’t think fans will buy it, but it’s a brilliant ploy. And it’s a little easier to rationalize than the regional fallout caused by the Oklahoma City Thunder advancing to the NBA Finals, and by the ascension of Kevin Durant to the status of superduperstar.

Portland, of course, could have had Durant. And those old wounds are still raw enough that “Oden” was trending on Twitter on Wednesday night.

But if Blazer fans feel like they’ve had salt poured in the wound, Sonics fans feel as though they have been drawn and quartered.

Portland could have had Durant. Seattle did have him. Who do you think feels worse?

Sonics fans had to watch the ex-Sonics bring a conference championship to Oklahoma City. Worse, they had to watch Darth Bennett hoist the Western Conference trophy. They had to listen to announcers say it’s the franchise’s first trip to the Finals since 1996, and that the team is seeking its first title since 1979.

As if Oklahoma City had anything to do with that.

As Seattle author Sherman Alexie tweeted: “If the OK City Thunder (my former Sonics) win the NBA title then I will vomit grief.”

Yes, it has been a traumatic time for NBA fans throughout the Northwest. But I’m here to help.

Blazer fans, take two aspirin and get some rest. Everything will be OK. At least you still have a team.

Sonics fans, um, here’s a prescription for Prozac.

Sorry, that’s the best I can do.

Greg Jayne is Sports editor of The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at greg.jayne@columbian.com. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne