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Wednesday, December 11
Updated: December 13, 1:54 PM ET
 
Fans won't forgive but ready to forget Blazers

By Joe Lago
ESPN.com

THE BOX OUT
PICK AND POPS
1. It's good to see Pau Gasol getting into the flow of the Grizzlies' offense again. Now only if Hubie Brown will stop this dumb charade of liking Jason Williams' game and start Brevin Knight at the point.
2. If Jay Williams wants to live up to his promise of making the Bulls a better team, he better start with his free-throw shooting. The No. 2 overall pick is shooting worse (55.1 percent) than he did at Duke (67.1).
QUOTE OF THE DAY
We all grew up in the 'hood. Stuff like this happens. As long as there is no death in the family, it's really not that serious.
Portland guard Bonzi Wells, who initially called on fans "to support us," changing his tune on the Blazers' off-court problems.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
18
The number of Blazers players who've gotten into trouble with the law, team management or league office under Bob Whitsitt's eight-year tenure.
TRASH TALK
You had your say. So here are the best comments:

My family and I have been longtime die-hard fans and ticket holders. ... I think that this is the worst and we are likely not to renew our ticket contract again or ever. This is the end. They have broken our hearts and hopes of role models or a winning team. The salaries, attitudes, bickering and management are horrible.
Kraig Eckman, Portland, Ore.

With Oregon and Oregon State sports doing so well, why the hell should anyone still care, or pay, to see the Fail-Blazers play?
Joel Petersen, Eugene, Ore.

I think the problems lies in the fact that the Trail Blazers are managed from Seattle. Whitsitt has no feel for the Portland community or how resentful most people are that we are managed managed from afar. Seattle no less!
John Inselman, Portland, Ore.

Paul Allen screwed up when he let Adelman and Petrie go and again when he hired Whitsitt. ... I am now a Sacramento King fan. Oh, I wish we had Geoff and Rick back.
William Burger, Scappoose, Ore.

Some of these players just don't realize the effect that they have on today's youth. They have this "above the law " persona like they can't be touched, and it gives a subliminal messege to these children that, when you become successful, you can't be touched.
Jamarr Coleman, San Diego, Calif.

Everyone needs to just chill out, especially you sports writers. You guys are blowing this story way out of proportion. The Blazers are human, just like us. Who hasn't smoked pot in their lives? In Rasheed's and Damon's case, it was just bad timing. As for Ruben, the domestic violence charges were dropped. And in any case, it's his personal life and none of our business.
Jeff, Middletown, Conn.

Does growing up in the 'hood give you an excuse to be stupid? Come on Bonzi, don't disgrace your race.
Doug Morgan, Austin, Texas

Bonzi Wells DOES NOT represent the African-American community, nor the 'hood. Wells, Damon Stoudamire, Rasheed Wallace, Ruben Patterson, etc. represent the criminal community, which by the way, consists of ALL colours!!!
George Jones, Atlanta, Ga.

You may have seen it on the Jumbotron of a pro arena near you. It's a classic clip from the movie "Network" of the late Peter Finch maniacally screaming his frustration to anyone who'll hear him. We conjure up this image because it describes the furor in Portland right now over their resident NBA'ers and their latest spate of crimes and misdemeanors.

Portlanders, like the disheveled Finch, are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore.

It's about time.

"Total disgust," said Gary Jondahl, owner of Kingston Bar and Grill on Southwest Morrison Street in Portland, in summing up the fans' feelings toward the Blazers. "People are just turned off by them. I walked through here trying to give away four tickets the other night and nobody would take them."

After forgiving the Blazers so many times for their indiscretions, the fans have finally decided to live without pro hoops and forget the team. Even though they've embraced the franchise as family, the denizens are disowning the Blazers like a troubled relative in all kinds of ways.

Most noticeable is the downtown sign that bluntly says "Boycott Blazers." At McGillacuddy's Sports Bar and Grill, a place officially designated by the franchise as a place for fans to eat, drink and merrily watch its team, more people come by these days to root for Lakers losses than to see Blazers victories, according to bartender Jarod Struck.

But the display of outrage that really rose eyebrows around town was an innocent letter to the editor by Ron Tonkin, Portland's auto dealer king and one of the Blazers' most high-profile boosters. On Dec. 1, the Oregonian newspaper published Tonkin's five-sentence denouncement of the Blazers' behavior in which Tonkin called the team "a disgrace" and vowed not to renew his company's luxury suite at the Rose Garden.

Ironically, the final straw for Tonkin wasn't Rasheed Wallace and Damon Stoudamire getting caught with marijuana while driving back from a game in Seattle or Ruben Patterson's domestic violence charge that was later dropped but prompted a $100,000 fine from the team.

"I was tired of people asking, 'So, how are your Jail Blazers?' " Tonkin said.

"We've put up with it for a long time," Tonkin added. "There's only so much you can pour into a bottle before it starts spilling over the sides. That's what I wrote in my letter to the editor ... I had no idea that it was going to cause this kind of commotion."

Portlanders always seemed to give the Blazers the benefit of the doubt. Even when J.R. Rider was caught smoking pot out of a Coke can and labeled the Portland area as racist, the locals kissed and made up with the team.

The disdain for the Blazers has been building. But would there have been such an uproar over the Blazers' three arrests had they been leading the Pacific Division instead of languishing below .500?

"I'm not nave. Winning does a lot and we all know that," Tonkin said. "But I think in this case I don't think it would've smoothed everything over. The public here has had a belly-full with what's going on with the Blazers. They've had had enough.

"The team needs an enema."

Flushing general manager Bob Whitsitt out of the Blazers' front office would bring instant relief, said Jondahl, who, after 12 years as a season-ticket holder, gave his seats back "four or five years ago."

"People are getting busted over things they shouldn't be getting busted for," Jondahl complained. "Bob Whitsitt brought those people here, so put most of the blame on him. And you've got to wonder about (owner) Paul Allen, too. He's the one who brought Bob Whitsitt here.

"Whitsitt tried the same thing in Seattle and it didn't work up there. With the money he's spending, you'd think he can put together a good team. Plus Bob Whitsitt doesn't even live here. He lives in Seattle. And Seattle and Portland aren't exactly the best of friends."

Clutch!
Earl Boykins
Boykins
Earl Boykins. The 5-foot-5 point guard was huge for the Warriors in the waning seconds of Tuesday's 106-102 victory over the Lakers, sinking three of four free throws in the final minute and hustling down court in time to draw a charge on Derek Fisher to preserve a 102-100 lead with 10.7 seconds left. Boykins calmly stepped to the free-throw line with 6.4 on the clock to sink a pair and to secure the win and finish with 14 points. Boykins also had eight assists.

Joe Lago, NBA editor for ESPN.com, writes Morning Shootaround every Wednesday and Friday.





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 Damage control
GM Bob Whitsitt takes some responsiblity for the Blazers' off-court problems.
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