Editor’s note: The entire time this incident was occurring, I was initially going to use the G.O.O.D. Friday track “So Appalled.” However, the subject matter and overall lyric flow didn’t fit the scope of this post. The only parts I really thought fit were: “I’m so appalled/Spalding ball,” Swizz saying “life sometimes can be ridiculous,” and the hook (especially in the RZA’s voice) “this s*** is f***in ridiculous” because it truly was. The song chosen has more of an uplifting message and is in line with my imploring that I never want to see what I saw Wednesday night.
Tonight, the Blazers may have lost a heart-wrenching 5 point game to the sheriffs of the West in the Lakers, but the bigger loss is my respect of Blazers fans that I cater to. I work as an usher for the Rose Garden at entry A3 and my job is pure bliss and enjoyment most nights. Tonight’s game was enjoyable until pettiness reared its ugly head and ruined a rather enjoyable, competitive and energetic atmosphere that had been brewing at my perch in A3.
The game hadn’t even started yet and when my man Dennis walked in the building, his exuberance and Laker regalia screamed shrillingly that trouble may lurk at some point in the game. Laker games are full of harbingers that makes the trained eye (I’ve been working A3 for 4 years and have seen 7 Laker games full of incidents) recognize before anything else. There was something different about Dennis though. Not to pigeonhole Laker fans, but most are pompous, abrasive and emboldened to stir the pot as they see fit. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. And don’t snicker and smirk Blazer fans, you are by no means anymore angelic. This story will make you livid and curse the very fans that tried to ruin an opposing fan’s enjoyment of basketball.
There definitely was something different about Dennis though. The man couldn’t have been older than 28, had driven up from LA with his buddy Mike to take in Wednesday’s tilt and his main goal (other than for the Lakers to win) was to get his baby girl’s extra-small home white Lakers Kobe jersey signed. He came dressed to the hilt: Lakers hat decked with the ‘ships on the back, Lakers letterman jacket with the ‘ships on the back, Laker jersey, a 2010 Game 7 “Beat Boston” rally towel and a bench sized Laker sweat towel. The guy came ready to cheer hard, cheer respectfully and most importantly have fun. I had mentioned to Rhonda the security guard that this might be a rough one, she agreed as we continued to interact with this extremely engaging personality.
So the game starts and LA goes on that opening run, much to the chagrin of Blazer fan. During this, Dennis is celebrating each bucket with a stand and a towel wave. During good plays, he cheers and yells, nothing malicious or belligerent. Pure enjoyment and jubilation anytime his Purple and Gold are successful. As an usher, nothing he has done up to the point is worthy of me approaching him or telling him to stop. In fact, I was standing next to him the entire time and I rather enjoyed it. His energy made me want to top him anytime the Blazers did something positive. It was not done to one up him or egg him on, we were celebrating basketball and respecting each other’s fandom. (Hell, we even sang Bill Bev Devoe’s “Poison” during a stoppage in play in the second half. That was fun. 3 brothers harmonizing over an illustrious track? Money. But I digress.)
During a timeout late in the first, a co-worker walked down from the section above me in B3 to tell me that she was getting complaints that Dennis’ cheering/standing and waving his towel was impeding fans above him to see the action. Ok, so now it is protocol for me to make contact and tell Dennis to do his standing and waving more judiciously. He obliged, said he didn’t want any trouble and I said I had no intentions to stifle his right as a fan. This was especially true because the man (Dennis) had not been overtly rude in his actions. This went on for the rest of the game until it reached an idiotic boiling point in the 4th quarter.
At an already contentious point in the fourth quarter, with the Blazers clinging to an 8 point lead, Dennis again stood during a timeout and began to pump himself up. I was interacting with another one of my season ticketholders when suddenly a man from above in B3 walked down the steps and caught Dennis’ waving towel and began to yank on it, trying to futilely stop him from impeding his view… during a timeout. Rhonda tapped my shoulder to alert me something bad was on the horizon and it only got worse as said Blazer fan threw a Blazer rally towel and emphatically shouted, “Quit this shit your doing and sit down! I can’t see the game!”… again, during a timeout. Apparently the Blazer fans above Dennis had tired of his act, as innocent as it was. Anne, my co-worker again walked to tell me I had to talk to him, to which I said I have already done so and he has been doing no wrong. I am not going to be frightened by a mass of Blazer fans who feel they should decide whether or not an opposing fan can cheer his team on. Words were flying all around me: fighting words, bad words, ignorant words, and Rhonda’s words of, “I’m calling for a roving team before this gets uglier.”
I calmed Dennis down as the security team was walking up in the vom, he was enraged but collected in his response. Security talked with him, talked with the gentleman who so rudely decided to play mitigator and then stayed to observe what had been going on. Not soon after, 3 Portland Police officers walked in. Def con 5? Over a man waving a towel and getting Blazer fans in a heated tizzy? Really? Another timeout occurred it was now a 2 point game. Dennis goes at again, and again is breaking no rules (and security is observing him). Another Blazer fan, this time a lady walks over to me and points that I should do my job and tell him to sit down because she can’t see. “I have told him, but he is breaking no rules ma’am. I am sorry but he is entitled to do this.” “But he has been doing it the whole game, it was especially bad in the first half!” “I know, and I have talked to him…” I trail off because my frustration was beyond comprehension. The security guard told her he had talked to Dennis and from what he had seen, Dennis was doing no wrong. She walked back to her seat furious that no reprimanding occur. One of the cops had tried to calm me down as I was vocally and visibly tired and irritated of Dennis, suddenly a close friend, being villified for being a fan.
Dennis left shortly thereafter. Not due to the ignorance bestowed upon him, but because he had to get in line at the loading dock to get that jersey signed. You know, his baby daughter’s Kobe jersey. I walked with him, Mike and two of his other friends down to where he needed to go to get to the loading dock. I apologized for what transpired, but he was over it. We hugged and hand-pounded it out, Entourage style, and he was on his way. I sincerely hope he got that signature.
This tale is written to depict that Blazer fans too can be ugly, petty and ignorant. We too can be hypocritical and idiotic. I have seen it far too often. The same Blazer fans that were tiring of Dennis standing, cheering and waving, were doing the god damned exact thing. Pardon that latin, and pardon this French: but that’s fucked up. YOU CAN NOT HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO. So please, as a Rose Garden usher and a Trail Blazer fan: do not act this way towards opposing fans, they are guests in our building and entitled to rah-rah-rah. Do not take it upon yourself to solve “problems” because it only creates more problems that I, or my co-workers/security, have to deal with. That is the least favorite part of my job. Understand that they are fans too, and while they may not share the ideals of Rip City, they are people as well. Do better, be better and everything will be fine.