By Jonathan Ryan Davis
One of my closest friends had the unfortunate luck of growing up in Denver as a Nuggets fan. While the Nuggets have a phenomenal retro mascot, their NBA franchise has not provided the same consistent brand of basketball the Blazers have provided over the last three decades. Nonetheless, he is a diehard Nuggets fan, which I have to respect.
Every year we make little bets over the Blazers/Nuggets series, and when we saw on the schedule that our two teams were playing Christmas night two years ago, we decided we had to go to the game together. What made this game special was that he lived/lives in Tampa, Florida while I lived/live in New York. We both flew in on Christmas day in time to dress in our respective jerseys and cook up some pre-game snacks and smack.
When we got to the game, he was a vocal advocate for his hometown team, our division nemesis (before OKC's emergence). After Denver took an early lead, he was that obnoxious fan who taunted the home crowd. Then something happened. Portland took the lead and control of the game. Quickly, his slingers turned to silent contemplation and polite claps for his team when they decided to put up a mediocre fight.
The Blazers dominated the fourth, resulting in a 107-96 victory. At the closing buzzer, my friend congratulated me as he awaited a barrage of smack talk. Instead, I was the bigger man. I said nothing about the victory and just thanked him for flying to Portland for the game--but I knew he hurting from a nationally televised humiliation. What a sweet night that was.