Once again, we can say it's on.
The Blazers are back in the playoffs for a seventh straight year, and who should be waiting for them but their archenemies, the Los Angeles Lakers. Ask anyone from California, of course—ahem—and they'll say, "Wait, Oregon has a basketball team?" But David exists to define himself against Goliath, and for Portland, there is no behemoth greater than the one in Hollywood.
It's been exactly two decades since the two teams last faced each other in the postseason—for the sake of Blazer fans' collective blood pressure, we won't mention what happened then—but the rivalry has hardly abated. Here are five of the most significant moments to happen in the interim.
Date: April 20, 2005
What happened: A very bad Blazers team beat the Lakers in Portland.
The aftermath: The Blazers kept on beating the Lakers at home, for nine straight games stretching into the 2009-10 season, earning the Rose Garden—and then Moda Center—a reputation as a house of horrors for L.A. (And then, after the Lakers got really bad, the Blazers beat them in 16 consecutive regular season games, tying the team's record for second-longest win streak against a single franchise.)
Date: March 9, 2009
What happened: Trevor Ariza, then of the Lakers, knocked Rudy Fernandez out of the sky on a fast break, sending the Spaniard crashing to the floor. Benches cleared, punches were thrown, mostly at the air.
The aftermath: Fernandez went out on a stretcher and missed a few games with a bruised hip. Eleven years later, Ariza signed with the Blazers, then opted to stay home with his kids rather than help the team in the bubble. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably.
Date: Oct. 31, 2012
What happened: A point guard from an obscure midmajor in Utah made his Blazers debut against the "This Is Going to Be Fun" Lakers, scoring 23 points with 11 assists in a win and accidentally kicking 39-year-old Hall of Famer Steve Nash in the shin along the way.
The aftermath: Damian Lillard won Rookie of the Year. Nash eventually developed nerve damage in his injured leg and retired. Nothing about that Lakers season was fun.
Date: Oct. 18, 2018
What happened: The grand purple-and-gold debut of LeBron James was spoiled by…Nik Stauskas?
The aftermath: The Lakers missed the playoffs yet again, while the Blazers somehow made it to the Western Conference finals despite trading Stauskas at the deadline. Wherever he is now, he's certainly regaling someone with the tale of how he hit five threes against LeBron James like Al Bundy reminiscing about his four-touchdown game at Polk High.
Date: Jan. 31, 2020
What happened: Lillard went off for 48 points in the Lakers' first game since the death of Kobe Bryant—a fitting tribute to a man who would definitely try to score on you at your own funeral.
The aftermath: The Lakers plan to wear Kobe tribute jerseys if they advance to the second round. Looks like Dame's got another memorial to disrupt.
Related: Kobe Bryant Was Portland's Perfect Foil.