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…И снова — Portland “Trail Blazers”. “…life’s too short, and the future here is too bright.”

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Очень хорошая статья, на мой взгляд.

На английском…

The Trail Blazers spent the entirety of this year, regular season and playoffs alike, defying the world’s expectations for them and insisting that no matter what, there was no ceiling to what they could accomplish with their teamwork and competitive spirit. This only makes it more cruelly ironic that in the end, their miracle run was met with – thwack! – a ceiling.

All year long, the moral of the Blazers’ story appeared to be “anything is possible.” Then, in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs, we all collectively realized that wording was a little off. Really, the moral was “anything is possible, except outlasting the best team in NBA history in a seven-game playoff series.”

Sadly – and I mean sadly not just for Portland, but for all 29 NBA teams that reside outside of Oakland, California – this is what the Warriors do. They destroy hopes and dreams. They shatter mythologies and deflate egos. They end seasons; they threaten to derail entire eras of teams’ histories. It would be narrow-minded and selfish for any Blazers fan to believe this only affects them. The dominant force that is Golden State is not a Portland problem; it’s an everyone problem.

Look around the league, and it’s not hard to find evidence that the Warriors have the rest of the league demoralized. For example, ask yourself – why do you think the Cavaliers fired coach David Blatt back in January? It can’t be because they were dissatisfied with Blatt’s results. They were 30-11 at the time, riding high atop the Eastern Conference. No, they fired Blatt because tension was mounting within the organization that no matter what the wins and losses said, they weren’t title material yet. That’s the Warriors effect.

Look at OKC. Why do you think it’s been so tough for us simply to sit back and enjoy the Thunder’s largely successful season? They won 55 games during the regular season and are now headed for their fourth Western Conference finals of the Kevin Durant era. The problem, of course, is that reaching the conference finals doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t go all the way, and there’s panic in Oklahoma that Durant might leave this summer to play for a team that’s even better. Like, you know, the Warriors.

Blazers
The examples go on. There have been rumblings about the Clippers blowing up their formidable three-man nucleus of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, even though all three are basically in their primes. There’s gloom and doom in Memphis. The Rockets haven’t been the same since Golden State dismantled them in the West finals a year ago. I’d argue that all of the above have felt the pull of the Warriors’ gravity. It’s tough to go on competing when you’re up against a mighty force you can’t control.

I wrote about the phenomenon of Warriors defeatism back in March, when the Dubs were still sitting on 60-something wins and chasing the Bulls’ record. You could already feel it then – the entire NBA was ceding defeat (or at least many of the media members and fans on the periphery were). It was starting to make the league less fun. It’s enjoyable to follow the NBA when there’s one dominant team and everyone else is gunning for them; it’s not so enjoyable when the elite squad is so much better that no one else has the heart to compete.

My advice to everyone, back in March, was not to sweat the Warriors-induced panic. First of all, there’s more to basketball than just pursuing championships – there’s nothing wrong with fielding a competitive team, fighting to win 50-plus games and surviving as far as possible into May and possibly June. There’s virtue in that, even when you come up short of the ultimate goal. And besides, why blow it up? Is any blowup really likely to pay off? Every time you take a step back in the hope of taking two steps forward, you’re taking a massive risk.

Warriors panic is the product of a “championship or bust” mentality that’s infected everyone in and around the league, from players and coaches to owners and GMs to writers and fans. We all suffer from it, to some extent. My response: Fight it. Appreciate basketball in all its beauty, even if one nagging part of you says not to. Don’t let the Warriors drag you down.

This is a general NBA thought, mind you. But when you look especially at the Blazers’ situation, it only becomes more pertinent. If there’s anyone in the NBA right now who should be looking excitedly to the future, it’s Portland. The Blazers are a young, hungry team that’s trending in the right direction – and if this past season is any indication, they’re moving that way much faster than expected.

I harp on this incessantly, but it bears repeating one last time: Vegas said the Blazers would win 27.5 games this season. Instead they won 44, plus another five in the playoffs, laughing in the bookmakers’ faces all the way there. No one understands quite like the Blazers that expectations were made to be surpassed. We might assume now that no one can ever usurp Golden State, but we can spend the next five years wondering if maybe, just maybe, that assumption is wrong.

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