Hey, Blazers fans: Stop trying to hold back your excitement. You and I both know the game on April 10 is the biggest for your franchise since June 5, 1977, the day Bill Walton brought the NBA Championship trophy home to the Rose City and turned it into a gravity bong.
Go ahead and act coy, as if you have no idea why a late-season matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers, with your team eliminated from playoff contention, would hold any significance. First of all, it's always a big deal for you guys whenever the Lakers come to town. I've seen how you react when the Blazers beat L.A. in, like, mid-November. It's like Christmas morning and you all simultaneously unwrapped the same shiny new bike—or, since this is Portland, a recumbent unicycle or some shit. The difference with this game is that a victory will actually mean something. You're playing a Lakers team battling for the eighth and last spot in the Western Conference playoffs. A loss at the Rose Garden could force them to miss the postseason for only the sixth time in 65 years. And for you, the Blazers faithful, that'll mean more than any championship—maybe even more than finally making it out of the first round.
Sure, dismiss this as the sour grapes of a Lakers fan who has fallen on hard times, but you know it's true. You're not the only NBA fan base fixated with my team—plenty of other bottom-feeders would love to be in a position to take out the Great Purple-and-Gold Satan—but Portland is afflicted with a particularly aggressive streak of small-market martyrdom. You suffer from the sports equivalent of a Napoleon complex, blaming the league's big-city bias for your team's woes rather than poor draft-day decisions, a chaotic front office and unfortunate injury juju. You've even manufactured a "rivalry" with L.A. I grew up in Southern California; people down there still think there's nothing but charred timber forests between San Francisco and Seattle, much less a pro basketball team. The Blazers are a David that exists to define itself against Goliath. Derailing a Lakers postseason isn't your consolation prize for missing the playoffs. For you, it is the prize.
It'll probably happen, too. I have little confidence in this Lakers team to step up with its back against the wall, particularly at the Rose Garden, which—as I'm sure you're all very, very aware—is a house of horrors for L.A. So enjoy your recumbent unicycle, Portland. Ride it until the wheel falls off…as it always does.
GO: The Blazers play the Lakers at the Rose Garden Arena, 1 N Center Court, on Wednesday, April 10. 7 pm. $49-$285.