Blazers: Still not fan-friendly

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

RANK (out of 29)200320042005
Fan Relations292929
Stadium Experience252321
Bang for the Buck91511

In the February 28 issue of ESPN Magazine, the sports gurus release their third annual Ultimate Standings for sports franchises. The standings try to rank teams in all four major leagues for fan value; answering the question: "are fans getting what they deserve from their hometown team?"

And once again, the answer for the Portland Trail Blazers is a resounding "Hell No!" The Blazers rank #26 this year (up one spot from 2003 and 2004) out of 29 NBA teams - ahead of only the Golden State Warriors, New Orleans Hornets and the Atlanta Hawks.

The Blazers ranked dead last for the third year in two categories: Fan Relations and Players. The Blazers have remaining mired in the muck despite the new management's best efforts.

The Blazers woes may be tied to fan disappointment in Coach Mo Cheeks. From 2004 to 2005, the Blazers fell from #17 to #26 in the league in the Coaching area.

The only sign of hope? The Stadium Experience rank has steadily improved - from #25 in 2003, to #23 in 2004, to #21 in 2005. Of course, that's still #21 out of 29 NBA teams.

Of course, as bad as it is, Portlanders can take a little comfort in knowing that we're not really paying for this dismal performance. The Blazers highest rank? "Bang for the Buck." In that category, the team ranks #11 in 2005 - up from #15 in 2004, but still below 2003's #9 rank.

Paul AllenSo, what's that? Bang for the Buck is the scoring category that attempts to evaluate "how efficiently teams have converted dollars received from fans into on-field wins." In essence, that ranking combines game attendance costs (tickets, programs, food, etc.) with local taxes - and develops a "wins-per-fan-dollar" score.

Much of the Blazers financing, however, comes from the richest owner in pro sports - Paul Allen. As ESPN points out: "Our Bang for the Buck rating rewards teams whose owners spend their own money and spend it wisely."

(Incidentally, while the other seven categories are based on fan surveys, the Bang/Buck category is a statistical analysis from the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at the University of Oregon.

So... what can the Blazers do (besides start winning) do earn your fan appreciation, trust, and loyalty? What would make a difference to you?

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    It gets worse. Of 90 professional sports teams ranked, the Blazers come in 79th.

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    Who? Who are the "Blazers"?

  • Aaron (unverified)

    Worse in players and coaches..where are the "honorable" players of the past like: Vandeweghe, Kersey, Duckworth, Dudley, Drexler and Porter; and good coaches like Rick Adelman or P.J. Carlesimo?

    I know that some of these players had off-court issues but they were not total disgraces.

  • Duke Shepard (unverified)

    I grew up loving basketball and the Blazers. I had Clyde Drexler posters and listened to the games on AM radio. Five years ago I realized a dream and had (as part of a group) Blazers season tickets. I’ve gone from ticket holder and diehard fan to this: A few weeks ago I turned down free tickets at a gas station and haven't a watched a complete Blazer game on TV for two or three years. Here's the problem: I hate most of the players. I don't know if there is much the team can do about it because I find that I hate most of the players in the NBA. This is a huge change for me. I loved the NBA my whole life. In the last five years, I can't stand it. The games suck. The players suck. The players lack guts, heart, skills, and work ethic. They don't all have to be choir boys - Jordan was a philandering gambling addict, Charles Barkley a barfighter, Karl Malone was as dirty as they come, even Dr. J. fathered a child with his mistress, Larry Bird had an illegitimate child, Walter Davis had a cocaine problem, Robert Parish was a domestic abuser - but I still could appreciate and like the game and most of the players. I can't now. The players are bigger a-holes. I hope that the league goes NHL on the players - lock them out, crack down on them. Ideally no guaranteed contracts, but I'll take shorter ones. Install an age limit or minimum qualification of 3 years college experience. I was with the players during the last lockout. As a union believer, and former union organizer, that is my natural inclination. But I can't do it anymore. These guys aren’t workers being exploited – its rich guys vs. rich guys, and the rich guys who write the checks care at least some minuscule fraction more about the fans than do the players, because they at least realize we are the source of revenue. The players don’t. As to the Blazers, they should let these expiring contract guys walk and build over time (unless they can unload Randolph and keep Abdur-Raheem) through the draft. Stoudamire is not an asset - yeah I know he's having a good year, kind of like when he was in Toronto wining 20 games. He's great on losing teams. Zach and Darius are punks. Maybe Zach can grow into the game; I might take that risk. Reuben is a rapist. As long as he’s on the team, I’m not in that building. Oh, and Maurice Cheeks can't coach. He's a nice man who has gravy trained that national anthem thing as far as it can go; it’s time to face facts. It’s funny, I still care somewhere deep in my mind because I still pay attention and hope – I read the articles, listen to sports radio, and wish things could change. But they won’t, and I still won't go to a game.

  • Sid Anderson (unverified)

    Hey Duke- I had the great experience of spending an entire day with Clyde last month. Long story short: I'm in the food business and so is his family. He's introducing a line of Drexler barbecue sauces and he's contracting with the same manufacturer I use in Lake Oswego. An international food show was held in SF last month and our mutual manufacturer had a booth down there and was showing all of our items. So we spent an entire day in the booth with three others. It was quite a day to say the least.

    I had forgotten about how much fun it used to be to watch the Blazers, but every person who came up and asked Clyde for his autograph said the same thing about how great it used to be to watch basketball and that he was part of what made it so much fun. All those games came back to me, and yes, those were great times, gathering with friends and family, getting out the microbrews and chips, and getting so emotionally involved in the games that we either cried with joy or total disappointment. But even when the Blazers lost, we still loved them to death.

  • PanchoPdx (unverified)

    I have a question.

    What happens to Rose Garden bonds held by the TIAA-CREF pensioners if Paul Allen sells the Blazers to an owner in another city (or moves it himself)?

    Are there barriers in place (other than the NBA ownership) that could prevent such a move?

    Just wondering.

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    I started to consciously pull for the Blazers when I was six years old, in 1972. I've been to games when I had the opportunity, and there was a time when I either attended or sat down to watch every game I could. (Which did wonders for my social life, as you can imagine.)

    Now I'll glance at the standings, and scan the rest of the Sports Page hoping to see "Allen sells team," "Blazer GM fired," and the like. But it's not so much the Blazers as it is the entire NBA. If I ever actively support any NBA team, it'll be the Blazers, no question. That's in my DNA sequence somewhere. But right now, the NBA sucks ass, and I say that from the standpoint of someone who's at least as much of a basketball fan as anyone on this board.

    Instead, college hoops has continued to capture my sports fan soul since Ernie Kent wore a tank top instead of a suit at Mac Court. And yes, I still geek for a Duck game on TV, even though they're 4 and 9 in conference and hoping to get the Wazoo Memorial Sacrificial Lamb entry into the PAC-10 tournament, let alone the Dance. Fine with me; PSU wins in Bozeman, and Big Sky Tournament is at Memorial. Finally, and as it should have been when half of U-Dub's team was in the starting lineup for the Vikes.

    One-A with that allegiance is my one to the Portland Timbers. From the GM to the fans, that franchise isn't a franchise - it's a family. Even when I move to Florida, I'll be Rose City Til I Die when it comes to soccer.

    Harry Glickman selling the franchise to Paul Allen was the worst thing that ever happened to the Blazers. Allen sucks all the profit out of the community to take back to Seattle, only investing here when somebody calls him on it. He'd never do it, because the product's a dying breed, but Phil Knight should own that team.

    And Whitsitt, as his firing from the Seahawks should illustrate, was simply untrustable with anyone's roster, from the star player to the janitor. His tenure with the Blazers coincided with my increasing disinterest in the team. And the new guy (whoever his family-friendly ass is) isn't doing much better. Like Duke says, the old guys had their problems off the court, but they were our old guys, and we liked them.

    One more thing - I think it was Aaron who suggested PJ Carlesimo as a return to the good old days when we had competent coaches. Cheeks is a babysitter, not a coach, but still: the minute PJ Carlesimo comes to town again in any role whatsoever with the Blazers, I for one will protect the service entrance to the Rose Garden with torch and pitchfork, if need be, to personally prevent that disaster from recurring.

    Were it not for PJ, we could have had Jermaine O'Neal patrolling the paint instead of the sorry excuse for a 4 that currently steps out at tipoff in a Blazer uniform.

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