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For the first time in over a decade, there is hope and excitement about the Portland Blazers. Feels kind of funny after enduring team after team of Trial Blazers & Jail Blazers.

Anyway, last weekend, the team hosted their annual 3-on-3 tournament at the Rose Quarter, outside the arena in NE Portland.

Courts were set up everywhere, including the top level of parking garages. Teams from the burbs took on teams from the city. Old timers with knobby knees tried reliving their glory days. A 49-year-old dude competed in the dunk contest! After seeing that, I nearly made a comeback…

For most people, they’ll never be professional athletes. Not when they’re conscious, anyway.

But there was a lot of passion for this folks as they proved something to themselves, at the very least. I can dig that.

Also saw some a-hole players and coaches (at a 3-on-3 tournament??), acting like their game was the NBA Finals, challenging refs and yelling at players. Pretty obnoxious, though interesting to watch. And photograph.

A lot of ego and testosterone poisoning was present there. At one point, I thought a referee would need a police escort to his Ford Escort.

This was an event that maybe I would have skipped over in the past. Or yawned about. Just another public tournament, nothing big-time. It’ll be back next year.

But this weekend helped show what sports means to people that will never be paid to put on Nikes. They were in it to win it – whatever “it” is to them. There’s something more real in that than watching NBA millionaires go through the motions.

I’m very happy to be back in Portland so I can catch events like this. Even caught public transportation. Craziness…

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