Festus Ezeli Is The Most Awkward Thing At A Portland Trail Blazers Game

Portland Trail Blazers center Festus Ezeli (31) poses for a photograph during NBA basketball media day in Portland, Ore., Monday, Sept. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)

There is a strange phenomenon happening at Portland Trail Blazers games. I was in attendance for the Blazers’ blowout of the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday night and for the most part it was an entertaining win by the home team.

However, the jubilant atmosphere and overall good vibes felt throughout the Moda Center would frequently come to a screeching halt during timeouts when an unfamiliar face wearing a Blazers uniform appeared on the giant Moda Center screen. That unfamiliar face?

Festus Ezeli.

Remember him? In case you need a refresher, Ezeli was one of Portland’s big free agent signings this past summer. A big man from the Golden State Warriors, he was brought in to shore up Portland’s interior defense. The Warriors, with all their gun slinging, high octane offensive weapons, were just as formidable on defense with Ezeli playing a key role last season. The Blazers were hoping he would complement Mason Plumlee in the middle and play the kind of defense Meyers Leonard seems incapable of achieving.

A little less than two months after the Blazers signed him, Ezeli was ruled out for at least six weeks after he underwent an injection to treat his ailing left knee. Those six weeks turned into two months, those two months turned into an indefinite amount of time with surgery being the next likely option.

Though he has not played a single second as a Blazer, he is very much a part of the entertainment the Blazers provide on the jumbotron during timeouts. For example, one taped segment had players making up a hashtag for another player’s photo. Every time Ezeli’s face would appear, it would elicit the kind of groans, chuckles and confusion one might hear if Donald Trump were to hold a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House.

The groans came from those whose image of Ezeli brings to mind a long line of big men the franchise has paid to have surgeries rather than rebound a basketball.

The chuckles came from the more amiable of Blazers fans, those who can find humor in the fact that Ezeli is getting more screen time than playing time.

Confusion came to the more common NBA fan. Who is this guy? Why is he up there?

It’s odd the organization hasn’t removed all cameos of Ezeli during these timeout fillers. He probably won’t play a single game as a Blazer and to see him high above the Moda Center floor is a jarring and a strange choice to show as entertainment fodder. It’s almost as if Mike Barrett appeared to promote a local car dealership.

Ezeli, through no fault of his own doing, has become another mascot of sorts to the Blazers; a constant reminder of our failed past with centers. He is akin to the Ghost of Christmas Past, bringing with him our nightmarish past with knees and all the various kinds of injections and surgeries that can be done to them.

Most Blazers fans could serve as special consultants to anyone with a knee ailment and what options are available. Maybe, during one of these timeouts, Ezeli can enlighten us on what procedure he is currently on so that we may better inform him of his options.

Take it from a fan; it’s bizarre watching him on a team-centric video but to never have seen him down on the court. We should be moving on by now. The jumbotron should be moving on. The bitter, the amiable and the common fan should all be moving on from Ezeli.

Ezeli was never going to make or break the Blazers. But, his signing was an exciting one for fans. As someone who had gone far into the playoffs, he brought with him experience, energy and the promise that the organization was taking a step forward. Instead, it has been mostly two steps back this season and Ezeli is the poster boy for all things gone wrong this year for the Blazers.

Seeing Ezeli in taped segments during timeouts for entertainment purposes makes him and general manager, Neil Olshey, look bad. Those video clips are all that we have gotten from him. Those video clips are all that we will get from him. Every time those clips are shown, we are reminded as such. It may sound petty, but I wasn’t the only one in attendance to comment on the oddity of seeing Ezeli poking fun at teammates he will never play with.

It’s time to do the right thing. It’s time to make some proper edits and make going to a Blazers games a little less awkward.

About John Stupak 44 Articles
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).