When Ezra told me he’d be at SXSW this week, and that he needed somebody to take over the Hot Live-Blogging Action for tonight's game against the Mavs (turns out Ms. Skinner has some kind of Crystal Taylor-like history with Dirk Nowitzki, and can't be within 200 feet of the Rose Garden...see you at Windows afterward, Marjorie), I knew it was my shot. For some time I've been working on a campaign to put our current mascot, Blaze the Half-Retarded Trail Cat, in a burlap sack full of rocks and drown him the Willamette River. My grassroots efforts—shouting at my TV, editing the Blazers' Wikipedia page, shouting at the Slammer's TV—have unexplainably come to no fruition. Now my moment has come. Please read on...
According to (an ad-agency manufactured) legend, Blaze was the third in a litter of cubs born in the Oregon Cascades, but was rejected because he looked different. If you remember the baby pictures that surfaced a couple years ago on TMZ, it's easy to see why his family didn't love him. He was alone, rejected, and waiting to be put out of his misery by some merciful poacher. But in 2002, hard times had fallen on the Blazers as well. Three players were cited for drug possession. Zach Randolph sucker-punched his teammate, convicted sex-offender Ruben Patterson, in the middle of practice. Shawn Kemp was pumping out illegitimate kids faster than Dikembe Mutumbo could adopt them. Bonzi Wells publicly declared that the team didn't give a shit about its fans. But maybe the final straw was the day Qyntel Woods pled guilty to first-degree animal abuse for staging dog fights in his house. Obviously, the Blazers needed some good PR, and took a page from the Angelina Jolie playbook—adopt a poor, unfortunate soul and hope the public forgets about your indiscretions.
Fast forward almost a decade, and the Blazers are first in the league in alley-oop buckets and 29th in the league in mascot-entertainment (finishing just ahead of the 76ers' Hip Hop The Basketball-Playing Rabbit and just behind the Lakers' Fat Guy Eating A Sandwich). You don't sign someone to an NBA franchise just because they looked sad and pathetic at the humane society—we learned that lesson with Dan Dickau. Too much of a burden is being put on Rudy Fernandez to throw that little scoop pass to LaMarcus at the rim. When an animal can no longer serve its purpose, it's time to do what all good parents do: Tell Patty Mills that Blaze is going to live on a 50-acre cat farm then take the filthy thing out behind Memorial Coliseum and shoot it in the head.
I know what you're asking. How do we replace such a generic and forgettable mascot? How do we find something team-specific that pays tribute to our region's rich history? Why don't NBA teams ever have two mascots that can throw each other alley-oops off the trampoline during timeouts? And why don't they have a scantily clad sidekick that appeals both to the male sports fan's pornographic and not-at-all-politically-correct fantasy and the female sports fan's desire for a symbol of woman's courage and independence?
My answer: Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, accompanied by their scantily clad interpreter and guide (In my head she's called Slutty Sacagawea, but Janey, as Clark called her, is fine too).
You're welcome, Portland. Now the last thing I want to do is micromanage—I'm really more of an ideas guy—but costume designers might look to the viking mascot from Freaks and Geeks (and, to a lesser extent, the Burger King). We'll have the coolest mascots in the league; the old Seattle Sasquatch will look like RoboDuck by comparison.
I'll be up in press row tonight, so if any front-office personal are looking to spitball ideas, you know where to find me.