Dear Trail Blazers…

Hi. How are you? I reckon ya’ll are probably a little hungover from last night’s season-ending victory celebration, huh? Hell, my head still hurts from the ladyfriend and I’s impromptu basement PBR shower.

Just wanted to say thanks for an awesome regular season. Over that past few months I’ve screamed and yelled and cussed and jumped up and down and shouted unprintable things at my television. I (as must most of Portland) feel like I’ve watched some sort of super-baby serum take hold in this team. You started out as a bundle of promising joy, but now you’re all grown. You blow people out. You don’t back down. And you’re even mean sometimes.

We all knew Brandon Roy was a stud. But we also knew that for this season to be a success, the rest of the team would have to step it up. And they did. LaMarcus Aldridge made the leap into All-Star territory. Rudy Fernandez was as enigmatic as advertised. Sergio Rodriguez has tamed his wild passes (mostly) and become a great second team point guard. Joel Przybilla has morphed into some rebound-swallowing Bill Laimbeer badass. Greg Oden is…well, Greg still needs another year. And if anybody actually thought Nic Batum would turn into a shutdown defender and biggest hustler outside of Przybilla, I’ll call you a liar.

But here’s the thing. Last night, with the win over Denver in the bag I had a sickening realization: I have officially given my heart to the Portland Trail Blazers. This is not a small thing. For all of my life I have bled the cardinal red of the Arkansas Razorbacks. I have broken bones kicking things. I have done about a million "hog calls." I have cried many tears. I once peed on a man’s car (don’t ask). And as much as I continue to love my Razorbacks, the fact is, it’s a fandom I was born into. I never had a choice.

By choosing to align myself so loyally to the Trail Blazers, I am offering up my jock-strap heart for more gut-wrenching and tears and frustration. (And yes, joy and relief and sports ecstasy.) I have been cheering for the guys since I arrived in town nearly three years ago. But as we head into the playoffs, the fandom has become so much more real. Now the situation is more serious: win and advance, lose or go home. The tickly, head-fizzing thrill of victory or the hollow, soul-crushing suck of defeat. There is no middle ground.

I’m ready. But I’m nervous. Houston…I’ve always hated you. Now I finally have a reason.

So, Brandon, Serge, Joel, Rudy, Travis, Greg, and all the rest…I’m asking you: be gentle. It’s not fitting for a grown man to cry.

Good Luck.

Your pal,

Bart