Don’t look now, but the Portland Trail Blazers are 100%, completely, totally and entirely, healthy. Bill Walton’s feet? Ancient history. Geoff Petrie’s knees? Just a sad tale to tell the grandkids. Travis Outlaw’s feet? He hasn’t played for Portland in years. Greg Oden’s right knee, feet, and left knee? Someone else’s problem; Oden’s no longer in the NBA. Then there’s the curious case of Brandon Roy, Portland’s last great NBA star, and arguably the most cursed player in the history of the cursed franchise.
From 2006 – 2010, Brandon Roy’s time with the Trail Blazers was an unqualified success. He was named Rookie of the Year in 2006-7, made his first All Star team in 2008, and was named to the NBA All Second Team in 2009. However, beneath all of his success, was a reoccurring series of ankle and knee injuries. Before the start of last year, on the advise of their team doctors, Portland management encouraged Roy to retire from basketball due to the debilitating condition of his knees. They then used their amnesty clause to remove him from the books. The curse of the Portland Trail Blazers had captured it’s latest victim.
Here’s where the story begins to change for the Portland Trail Blazers. Rather than pretending to ignore the curse of their franchise, the team spent the last few seasons secretly moving every member of their franchise who carried even the faintest strain of the injury virus to their rival city, and the bike capitol of the United States, Minneapolis. Finally, this off season, they hired a new GM, Neil Olshey, who was brave enough to confront the curse directly. Really, it didn’t take much — all he had to do was engage the GM of the Minnesota Timberwolves, David “Wrath of” Kahn in a complicated game of GM one-upmanship. When Kahn started sniffing around the availability of bringing Brandon Roy to Minnesota, with or without any cartilage in his knees, Olshey sensed the time was ripe to once and for all pass the injury curse on to the Timberwolves.
When Kahn tendered an offer to one of the few members on the Blazers’ roster who didn’t have the curse, their young wing Nicolas Batum, Olshey made fun of Minnesota’s state bird, the mosquito, then he matched the offer and sat back to watch while the infuriated Kahn moved to add as many former, and cursed, Portland employees to his roster as possible. And by the start of this season, the passing of the Curse of the Portland Trailblazers was complete.
Don’t believe me? Check out the Portland connections on Minnesota’s roster:
Coach Rick Adelman came down with the injury curse when he was hired for his first NBA coaching in 1986 by the Portland Trailblazers. Kevin Love was stricken by the curse when his parents moved to Lake Oswego, Oregon when he was 1 years old. GM David “Wrath of” Kahn caught it when he covered the Trail Blazers for The Oregonian. Assistant Bill Bayno used to to coach for the Blazers. Dante Cunningham was drafted by the Blazers. Luke Ridnour went to college a few hours outside of Portland. And even though Martell Webster is no longer with the Twolves, he certainly spread his Portland stank all over the Twolves’ roster last year.
In 2012, the curse of the Portland Trail Blazers has been stronger than ever, albeit in an entirely different (and much better biking) city. The curse really struck Minnesota for the first time last season, when the Twolves’ promising season ended when first Ricky Rubio went down with a ACL tear, then Kevin Love was concussed after an errant elbow from Javale McGee, and finally the seemingly indestructible, Nikola Pekovic, had to miss games due to bone spurs in his ankles.
This season, perhaps sensing the oncoming curse, Kahn and Adelman put together a deep roster of wily veterans and young gunners. However, the roster hasn’t been deep enough to stop the effects of the curse from taking effect. First Kevin Love broke his shooting hand doing knuckle pushup (or punching a wall). Then JJ Barea strained his foot, when he raced after a loose ball and collided with the scorers table. Next, Brandon Roy re-aggravated his knees. And then, last night, Chase Budinger injured his knees when he was shoved to the ground during a scrum in the fourth quarter of the Twolves’ game against the Chicago Bulls.
Unless, Kahn and the Timberwolves make an aggressive move to pass the injury curse along to another team (please be the Lakers, please be the Lakers) Twolves’ fans can only fear that the worst effects of the curse are yet to come.