UPDATE: Here are the particulars from the team’s press release …
WHAT: Portland Trail Blazers fans can soon sip their favorite beverages in commemorative glassware adorned with the images of star players. For the first time since the 1992-93 season, the Trail Blazers will feature five (5) select players artistically depicted in animated NBA game action on a series of 16-ounce glasses to be given away free to fans at upcoming home games in 2014. Local Portland artists Tim Weakland and Robert Perez were commissioned by the Trail Blazers to create the colorful images of the players for each individual glass. Click here for a time lapse video of their artistry.
WHO: LaMarcus Aldridge – Feb. 19 vs. San Antonio
Robin Lopez – Feb. 26 vs. Brooklyn
Damian Lillard – March 5 vs. Atlanta
Wesley Matthews – March 30 vs. Memphis
Nicolas Batum – April 13 vs. Golden State
WHEN: Starting February 19, 2014
WHERE: Select Trail Blazers Home Games at the Moda Center beginning in February 2014. For tickets to the specific games when the glassware is available, fans can visit www.nba.com/blazers/tickets/rip-city-nights.
I’ve been hearing rumblings within the organization that, after a 20-year hiatus, the Trail Blazers are bringing back the caricature-adorned drinking glasses this season. The team will distribute the glasses, which feature artistic renditions of LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez, on five different game nights at the Moda Center. The team will also wear their popular “Rip City” jerseys on those nights.
As of right now I don’t know what all the dates will be, but I know the LaMarcus Aldridge glass will be the first handed out at the game against the Spurs on Feb. 19. Everyone who attends those games will get a glass (though you have to pick up the glass after the game is over, given the NBA doesn’t look kindly on handing out throwable objects pregame) and season ticket holders are guaranteed to get at least one five-glass set per account.
The Trail Blazers have produced some quality promotional items over the years, such as the Rasheed Wallace lunchbox from Oil Can Henry’s, the Blazermania vinyl record featuring Bill Schonely from the folks at Equitable Savings and various bobbleheads from Wells Fargo.
But no item is held in higher regard by Trail Blazers fans than the series of drinking glasses featuring caricatures of Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Buck Williams, Kevin Duckworth, Jerome Kersey and Cliff Robinson that the team produced in consort with Dairy Queen back in the early 90’s. Those weren’t the first drinking glasses the team put out with local restaurants (for example, the team had a “Blazers Favorite Pizza” glass promotion with Sunshine Pizza Exchange back in the early 80’s that featured the like faces of Mychal Thompson and Peter Verhoeven), but they have been the most beloved and enduring. One of my favorite local watering holes, The Old Gold, even has a promotion during Blazers games in which you can get a Rainier served in a Trail Blazers Dairy Queen glass for a buck.
I’m not sure how many of the Dairy Queen glasses were made, but it would seem that, since the new glasses are only being distributed to fans at games, these will be even harder to come by in 20 years.
There’s no better time to ponder the future of an NBA team than the period of the offseason before the draft and free agency. There are nothing but possibilities. Every free agent is a potential target who could change the direction of a franchise, every draft pick a presumptive superstar in the making who could eventually lead your team to glory.
Of course, the Trail Blazers don’t have a draft pick this year and attracting big-name free agents to Portland has always been a challenge, but when you’re the third-youngest team in the NBA, the future isn’t primarily defined by potential additions. And that’s especially true for a team coming off a 44-win season and their second playoff series victory in the last 16 years. While signing a all-star caliber free agent or obtaining a pick in the 2016 Draft would certainly help going forward, Portland’s fortunes are dependent on variables such as Allen Crabbe stepping into a bigger role, Al-Farouq Aminu building on a career season, CJ McCollum making the jump from very good to great and Damian Lillard becoming to bona fide Top 10 player in the league.
So while it never hurts to be optimistic about the opportunity for adding new talent, the Trail Blazers already have a strong footing going forward after rebuilding their roster just under a year ago during the 2015 offseason. That’s probably the main reason Portland jumped 10 spots to No. 8 in ESPN’s most recent Future Power Rankings. Here’s what ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton had to say about the ranking…
While we were relatively optimistic about the Trail Blazers in September, they’ve still tied for the largest jump since then. Portland moved back into the top 10 after not only defying expectations by making the playoffs but winning a series (albeit aided by the Clippers’ injuries) and competing with the Warriors in the second round.
Now, the Blazers have the opportunity to clear max space while retaining their young core, led by the dynamic backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. That’s possible because GM Neil Olshey locked up young free agents Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis to contracts that look like enormous bargains.
To threaten the West’s upper crust, Portland still must hold off younger teams rising out of the lottery. But a strong management team of Olshey and newly extended coach of the year runner-up Terry Stotts gives reason to believe in the Blazers.
Portland’s best rankings come in management (5th) and players (9th) while their worst score comes in money (19th), which is somewhat ironic considering one of the wealthiest people in the world owns the team, though this ranking is surely more reflective of their salary cap situation than an unwillingness to spend.
The Northwest Division does well in the future rankings, with the Utah Jazz just ahead of the Trail Blazers at No. 7 and the Minnesota Timberwolves just behind at No. 9.
With Portland’s playoff run now over, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard now has some free time on his hands to pursue his off-court interests. He’s already hit up Oak’s Park for some late-night rollerskating, attended a Portland Thorns game at Providence Park and welcomed his old buddy Tim Frazier back to town. And today, we know he’s back in the studio making music.
In a re-launch of the “Music Monday” feature that he started last offseason on his Soundcloud page, Lillard, or to be most specific, “Dame DOLLA,” has posted a new track entitled “Talk To Em” featuring V.I.P and Bozzle (who I think are Lillard’s cousins)…
One of Dame’s verses…
They glorifying goofballs, I’m salty as Utah
When you real they uncomfortable, plotting for you to fall
Man I’m changing up the game, forget about the politics
I stick my neck out for my loved ones, I’m like an ostrich
A lot of love around me you haters keep doing opposite
I’m really incompetent to taking many compliments
That sounds about right. Previous “Music Monday” releases from last year include “Soldier In The Game,” “Full Stomach,” “Why?” “Free Bands” and “The Villains.” Then there’s non-Music Monday releases such as “I Wish I Could Tell You,” “Heatwave,” and “They Sleep,” which, like “Talk To Em” was produced by Jahlil Beats, who also produced, among other things, the Rick Ross/Meek Mill hit “Ima Boss” and that Bobby Shmurda song whose name I can’t put on this blog. And of course, there’s “Bigger Than Us,” the video for which currently has roughly 750,000 views on YouTube.
A happy Friday the 13th to all of you loyal podcast listeners. Before everyone goes their separate ways now that the offseason is here, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net and TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio one last time to record a season-ending edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this edition, we attempt recap the series versus the Warriors, which ended in five games with a 125-121 loss at Oracle Arena Wednesday night, and the season in general, discuss the lasting effects of the playoff run and the respect that they earned from around the league due to their performance and look forward to some of the questions the Blazers will have to answer in the offseason, particularly in regard to free agency. And as always, we finish up by answering your Twitter-submitted questions on topics such as the culture the Trail Blazers have developed, (more) free agency, exit interviews and favorite moments from the just-completed season. It’s been a fun one.