Portland Trail Blazers Fans Have A 0.9 Problem

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This week marked the fourth anniversary of “The Shot”; the game-winning, and series-clinching, heave by Damian Lillard with 0.9 seconds left on the clock to lift the Portland Trail Blazers past the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs.

If you were on social media this week and followed any number of Twitter handles that follow, or are affiliated with, the Trail Blazers, then you may have thought May 2 to be a state holiday. By Portland’s standards, maybe it should be; it would have made for a perfectly quirky episode of the now-deceased TV show Portlandia.

In case you logged off for a good 24 hours during that time, here are just a few posts from the day of the anniversary.

Full confession: I still get much joy from watching this.

I, too, remember where I was at this moment. I fondly recall, as does as my wife, leaping off the couch, jumping up and down, shouting, dancing and feeling emotions I forgot I even had. It was a moment of child-like euphoria you rarely feel as an adult. It was a phenomenal play that helped ease years of pent-up frustration that only Blazers fans can understand.

The problem with this moment, as it stands today, is that that moment was supposed to be a launching pad to even bigger, more memorable moments. That 0.9 seconds of time was when Lillard was supposed to ascend to superstar status and be the Blazers’ savior to long playoff runs. It was supposed to be the beginning of even more 0.9s, only with a June timestamp. Maybe we were asking too much from just one miraculous shot, but there was an optimism born from that moment that has yet to be completely wash away.

Four years later, however, this is still all we have. And we seem fine with that. Or, at least content with it. If that’s the identity Lillard and the Blazers want to hang their hat on, it could be worse. For Blazers fans, however, we need to stop acting like this happened yesterday whenever we get insecure about how the rest of the NBA world views Lillard and the Blazers.

Our obsession with 0.9 seconds is like Al Bundy bragging about scoring four touchdowns in a single football game.

The other 29 NBA teams probably roll their eyes at our constant finger pointing to this one glorious moment that happened four years ago. Except for maybe the Toronto Raptors, where the biggest shots of their organization have all come from LeBron James.

Portland seems to have put this moment on par with Michael Jordan’s shrug, LeBron James’ block, or anything the Golden State Warriors have done in the last four years, sans blowing a 3-1 series lead in the NBA Finals. It’s not. As great as that shot was, it’s importance continues to wane with every Blazers first-round exit in the years proceeding it. And yes, I know about 2016 and our series win against a crippled Los Angeles Clippers team.

During this year’s shorter than short playoff run, Damian Lillard struggled mightily in all four games against the New Orleans Pelicans and was immensely criticized for his performance, with many NBA fans questioning his status as a star player. In return, Blazers fans used the 0.9 highlight video as evidence to prove that Lillard is a clutch playoff performer. Now, I love Lillard as much as the next Blazers fan, but using one play from four years ago to prove someone’s overall worth is like showing a clip of Blazers fans applauding a Raymond Felton free-throw to prove how much Portland loved Felton. Lillard is still great, just stop using 0.9 to justify it.

It’s not that we should forget those 0.9 seconds. If I could, I would use an infinity stones to transport back in time, buy a ticket to that very game and watch it in person. But, shouldn’t we be wanting more at this point?

I’m sure Stephen Curry has his own highlight reels of last-second shots, but ask any Warriors fans about it and their response will be something like, “Yeah, those are nice. But, what about those championships, though?”. 0.9 is nice, but how about a conference final highlight! Let’s move on to something greater.

If the Houston Rockets make the Western Conference Finals, we should stop using 0.9 as a burn every time we play them. We should stop using it every time some Twitter troll questions Lillard’s ability. Because, when it comes to 0.9, no one really cares except for those of us who make our home in the Pacific Northwest. And, I’m fine with that. We all should be. I’m waiting for the Blazers, as a team, to give us all something to really brag about.

If this past week is our response to the “The Shot” after four years, I can only imagine what the five-year anniversary will be like. A parade? A Salt & Straw ice-cream flavor (I’m good with this). A three-hour documentary showing at the Bagdad Theater (I’m good with this too).

Let’s hope by 2019, when the next anniversary of the “The Shot” arrives, we are all too preoccupied with playoff basketball to give it much thought. Otherwise, I’ll see you at the Bagdad.

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About Author

John Stupak is a senior writer for Oregon Sports News since 2014. John has followed Oregon sports for nearly 30 years. He is a life-long Portland Trail Blazers fan and has had the privilege of covering the Portland Thorns of the NWSL. Along with everything sports, he is fan of movies and of quality television (sorry CBS) in his spare time. John has a beautiful wife, Amanda, along with one soccer-loving, intelligent, and artistic daughter. John is an electrical tech designer by day and a writer by nights and weekends. You can follow John and all his musings on Twitter (@Stupak77).

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