There was a time during the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 season when people were declaring the Portland Trail Blazers as one of the elite teams in the NBA.  No really, this actually happened.   The team started out hot, winning seven of their first nine games and sitting near the top of the Western Conference standings.  People were citing their depth as one of the reasons for their success, which many viewed as a key because of the condensed schedule.  LaMarcus Aldridge was on his way to becoming a first-time All-Star, the Blazer fans were happy as they were moving on from the Greg Oden “era” and transitioning from the loss of Brandon Roy to a “career-ending” injury.

And then, the Blazers went on a three-game losing streak and never looked back.  They would go 22-36 the rest of the way and headed back to the NBA Draft Lottery.  Good times, really….

And as the Blazers try to rebuild their roster once again, there are a few things to look forward to.  LaMarcus Aldridge is still a good centerpiece to build around that just needs another star to shoulder the load, Nicolas Batum is back after initially wanting to leave for Minnesota and lottery pick Damian Lillard could be their salvation if he lives up to his potential.  They might not be a playoff team this year, but they should be fun to watch at the very least.

As for kicks fans, you would think that in a city where Nike World Headquarters and adidas America reside just minutes away the Rose Garden Arena would have a lot more heat for their respective athletes that play on the Blazers.  And while there will be some heat on display this season, you can’t help but think there should be more.  Think of the treatment the Oregon Ducks get and you’ll know what I mean.

 

The Soldier

Player: J.J. Hickson (Nike)

J.J. Hickson was once considered so good that the Cleveland Cavaliers did not pull the trigger on an Amar’e Stoudemire trade because they refused to part ways with Hickson.  A few years later, they would trade Hickson for Omri Casspi.  Yeah, no wonder Cleveland has Kyrie Irving instead of LeBron.

All the while, Hickson latched onto the LeBron train and has been rocking heat since.  From patent leather Sharkleys to Cranberry ½ Cents, Hickson always comes to play, at least from a kicks point of view.  And with Hickson now in Portland, he has been rocking the latest Nike Zoom Soldiers so far in the preseason.  Expect more if he actually gets playing time behind LaMarcus Aldridge.