Opening Week: What Could’ve Been, Aldridge Hosts Charity Game, Luring Jamal Crawford to Portland

I was really hoping to begin my first post in months as the recap to what would’ve been the Blazers opening night tipoff and their first two weeks of games. But as the labor lockout continues to get nastier and talks die down between owners and the players association, the Rose Garden continues to sit empty. Blazer fans everywhere are forced to watch reruns of Bones, hunting shows on Comcast Sportsnet or create mockup matches on NBA 2K12. Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Brian Wheeler are left sitting at home like the rest of us waiting for hope, and the Rose Garden is left dark, cold and lifeless. But at least it gives Brandon Roy more healing time right?

This feeling was everywhere as the lockout continues its dreadful path, now in its 133 day, the first month of games throughout November have been canceled and as news was hopeful this morning of a possible deal to be placed, nothing has come to fruition in over 12+ hours of talks. NBA commissioner David Stern allowed the owners to push back their Wednesday deadline to reach an agreement with the players on a new collective bargaining agreement in New York City but once again, talks have stalled late into Thursday.

NBA union chief Billy Hunter speaks to reporters after a meeting

According to Ian Thomsen of Sports Illustrated he notes, “It’s become clear that the league and union can agree to a 50-50 split of basketball-related income. But the players will submit to an equal division of money only if they can procure a system to deliver that money in a way that satisfies their membership.
It has even gotten to the point that if neither side weakens, the players association will likely want to spilt, thus halting the efforts to save the entire 2011-2012 season all together, something basketball cities are already feeling.

Take the sport bars for example that sit across the arenas, it’s hard to think about it but they depend on the NBA for income as do the arena employees. Small markets like Portland, Sacramento, Oklahoma City, Charlotte and New Orleans don’t have the NFL or NHL to look forward to. Baseball just crowned their champion, and when football only comes once a week, cities and businesses are looking elsewhere to help their economy.

The best that we can hope for is a scramble of a 76 game schedule, more than what the 1998-99 lockout which was reduced to 50 games. If a deal is in reach and games can resume by Christmas, it’ll be the best present that Santa could ever give this year. Oh, and new knees to Greg Oden would help too.

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For one night in Portland at the University of Portland Chiles Center, there was basketball. Blazer star LaMarcus Aldridge hosted his first charity game called Rip City Basketball Classic on Sunday November 6th and seeing the pictures, it looked amazing. It wasn’t a true NBA game like we wish we could see, not a whole lot of defense, no nail-biting last second shot attempts but tons of offensive scoring and dunks to please the lucky 5,000 fans.

LaMarcus Aldridge (7) hosts the Rip City Basketball Classic in Portland

For the game, Aldridge signed on fellow teammates Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews, Armon Johnson and Chris Johnson along with ex-Blazers Steve Blake and Jeff Pendergraph. The other big name on the roster was Kevin Durant and James Harden from the Thunder, along with Jamal Crawford, Nate Robinson and Spencer Hawes. Brandon Roy was supposed to show but didn’t show up at all, leaving people wondering if his knees still bother him or it was doctor’s orders to stay off the court.

Wesley Matthews (2) faces Kevin Durant in the Rip City Basketball Classic

Aldridge led his team to victory with a 164-157 slugfest against Durant and the away team. LA poured out 42 Pts, 13 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Blk, 1 Stl on 19-36 shooting followed by Matthews with 30 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 5 Stl on 12-20 shooting. Oh and there were 42 three-pointers combined. Here’s the stat sheet for all 17 players who participated:


  • TJ Ford — 8 points, 3 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 3 turnovers, 4-6 shooting
  • James Harden — 28 points, 8 assists, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, 1 block, 10-21 shooting
  • Steve Blake — 19 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 7-11 shooting
  • Kevin Durant — 47 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, 5 turnovers, 19-35 shooting
  • Nate Robinson — 9 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 3 turnovers, 4-9 shooting
  • Chris Johnson — 8 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 4 turnovers, 4-6 shooting
  • Josh Howard — 9 points, 5 rebounds, 1 turnover, 4-12 shooting
  • Jeff Pendergraph — 12 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 6-7 shooting
  • Terrence Williams — 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 8-11 shooting
  • LaMarcus Aldridge — 42 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 19-36 shooting
  • Wesley Matthews — 30 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals, 3 turnovers, 12-20 shooting
  • Craig Winder — 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals, 6-15 shooting
  • Isaiah Thomas — 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 6-11 shooting
  • Raymond Felton — 19 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, 8-14 shooting
  • Jamal Crawford — 18 points, 8 rebounds, 10 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 4 turnovers, 5-14 shooting
  • Spencer Hawes — 16 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 7-12 shooting
  • Armon Johnson — 10 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 turnovers, 5-10 shooting
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In some interesting news, Aldridge has been very open about his campaign to bring Atlanta Hawks guard Jamal Crawford to sign with Portland once the lockout ends. Speaking on the radio, Aldridge expressed his desire to bring Crawford north: “‘I’m not being bashful, I would love for him to come play in Portland. I put it out there so he knows I’m serious. If he really wants to do that, I wanted him to know I’m behind it. “He’s a really good player. He doesn’t mind coming off the bench. Or starting. He can bring a different dynamic to the team. He’s great at pick and rolls; he’s a really good shooter. When I get double teamed, it would leave him open in the corner.‘”
The feeling appears to be mutual as Crawford participated in Aldridge’s Rip City Basketball Classic and when asked how he would fit in he said:
‘Yeah, definitely. I’ve been watching the Blazers so long with Brandon [Roy] being one of my best friends. With LaMarcus here, Wes [Matthews] and Ray [Felton], it’s almost close to a hometown team. I’m from Seattle. It’s the closest thing we have to basketball right now.”

“I think I would bring a little bit of everything to Portland. Scoring, creating for other people. Trying to make the game easier for my teammates… I think they’re a team on the rise.”

“Starting, coming off the bench, it doesn’t really matter to me.

Jamal Crawford would bring more offensive and depth to the backcourt if he signs with Portland

Crawford, a 6’5″, 200 pound shooting guard who is a free agent this year averaged 14.2 PPG, 3.2 APG, 1.7 RPG and shot .421 during the 2010-11 season. The 31-year-old Seattle native went 8th overall in the first round in the 2000 Draft out of Michigan and has played for Chicago, New York and Golden State. He won the NBA Sixth Man Award for the 2009-10 season and has been to the playoffs twice with Atlanta.
However Aldridge is not the only player trying to lure Crawford from free agency, superstar LeBron James went to his Twitter account: “Would love to see Jamal Crawford in a Heat uni! What you guys say?
Aldridge quickly replied back: “How are you going to try and steal Jamal Crawford from us?! I already told Portland to make him feel at home on the 6th.
Having Jamal would bring some much-needed offense, most likely coming from the bench and could spread the floor with Roy easily. It’ll be fun to see where the free agency takes place following the lockout, hopefully it’s soon.
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