The Trail Tankers

I stumbled across a Trail Blazer game on the tube the other night. The Blazers were on the road in Oklahoma City, and ahead by something like 17 points in the fourth quarter. Of course, they blew the lead and lost the game by 4.

Nobody on the team seemed to care. The inept rookie coach, Chauncey Billups, was all smiles. It's as if they were trying to lose. And they had an incentive to do so – the worse their won-loss record, the better the chance that they will get a top pick in the upcoming draft of college players. Portland has lost nine straight games, and 19 of its last 21.

Deliberately losing is called "tanking," and the Portland team has it down to a science this season. Their star players have all been traded away or declared too injured to play, and so all that's left is a collection of ragtag guys who should be performing in some minor league in Asia.

I feel sorry for the people who shelled out good money for Blazer season tickets this year. And even for the little folks who bought some fan gear or a Blazer-theme specialty license plate. The team management did not act in good faith. You wonder why some lawyer hasn't brought a class action. When a team sells you a season ticket or a $130 jersey, isn't there some sort of implied promise being made on the team's part that it will sincerely try to win its games?

Damian Lillard, one of the top Blazer players of all time, is still on the roster and says he's looking forward to winning with a rebuilt Rip City squad next year. I wouldn't bet on that proposition. Dame may be in a different uniform by Thanksgiving.