Note: this post, while it may seem irrelevant at times, strives to function as a preview of tonight's game against the Portland Trail Blazers by taking you inside the psyche of a different flavor of long-suffering fan.

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John,

I spied the above-referenced hippie bumper sticker on the car in front of me while driving to work yesterday. Hippie bumper stickers always remind me of my home state of Oregon, but this one sent my mind more immediately to a certain savior-cum-pariah, a man by the name of Paul Allen.

On the subject of Saint Paul, I don't know where to begin. Thankfully, you provided me with a nice jumping-off point: the 2000 Western Conference Finals. When something that karmically bad happens, there can be no recovery without complete reinvention. In this case, a regime change. I don't even need to debate the merits of being owned by a man worth more than all the other NBA owners combined, times 5 - the towel must be thrown in. To know why, let's go to our history books...

The Blazers have experienced three instances of catastrophically bad karma in their soon-to-be-completed existence, in reverse chronological order: 1) the Scottie Pippen "How To Choke So Bad That People Will No Longer Remember You Solely For the Time You Wouldn't Reenter a Game" instructional video taped here in L.A. that fateful night in 2000; 2) the draft-day Tourette's that resulted in Sam Bowie's being chosen over some Michael Jordan guy.

Instance 1 led to the current implosion. Instance 2 led to us poor Blazers fans seeing just how close we could come to a championship when, in 1990, we won game one in Detroit only to have them take the next four. It (the pronoun referring to Instance 2 of profoundly bad karma) also produced the signature moment of the aforementioned Jordan's career, when he shrugged upon canning three-pointer after three-pointer in Portland during the '92 Finals massacre. Kinda like how we produced the defining moment of Shaq's career (thanks for the pic, John - I wonder what my nightmares will be about tonight).

Quick aside: as much as I cried when we tanked it to the Lakes in 2000 (I was only 25), that wasn't the most emotion I ever showed at a Blazers defeat. No, that came at the end of a random game during the Jeff Lamp era. All was right with the world - Mom and Dad were still faking it, Mount Saint Helens hadn't blown up yet - when Calvin Natt stepped to the line for two glorious free throws with an even zero seconds left on the game clock (ah, those halcyon days before tenths). That ol' Cal would miss one was predictable. That'd just amount to me getting to watch another five minutes for free on KGW-8. When, after dribbling and sizing up the rim for what must have been half a minute, sweating more from nervousness than exhaustion (and that's saying something, the banger Calvin was), he barely drew the side of the rim on the second free throw, I broke down. I wouldn't cry that hard again until our hamster committed suicide.

Oh, and - don't think I forgot - instance #3 of the atrocious karma? That came way back on October 18, 1976. Two months earlier, the Blazers had actually drafted the right guy when they held the first pick in the ABA dispersal draft. That guy was Moses Malone. In the intervening two months, they came to their (that is, in the topsy-turvy world of Blazer logic) senses and traded him, to some team named the Buffalo Braves. Luckily, this time, due to the transference property which exists not just in math but in karma, too, the Trail Blazers were let off the hook when, a week later, the Braves traded Herr Malone to the Rockets. In fact, the Blazers won their only title that very season.

The Braves? I don't know what ever happened to them, or if the bad karma of trading Moses Malone stuck.

They did have cool uniforms, though.

Jeff