I like Justin Long. I’ve always thought he had a charming presence on screen and is someone I find myself willing to root for. I even had this crazy notion for a while where I was convinced his career could have a “Tom Hanks-type arc.” You know, how Hanks made his bones on kitschy television shows and corny, feel-good movies with great performances that made those mediocre projects seem better than the material would suggest? I thought Justin Long had the same opportunity, albeit with a lower ceiling. I still believe this to a degree, but it seems he’s more content maintaining his niche and not expanding his leading man opportunities. Perhaps I should have hitched my ride to Joseph Gordon-Levitt instead.
People always overvalue their own hypothesis in an effort to be smarter than those around them though. That’s why you promote a band you just heard, or a television show others don’t yet know: you want to be right and look like a genius before someone else. That’s why I wanted to be right about Long, and that’s why Trail Blazer fans are similarly convincing themselves the trio of Lamaracus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard are enough to start a franchise that will enjoy long periods of success; as opposed to acknowledging the more likely outcome is they’ll end up being the stars that spawn three horrendous Chipmunk movies.
I’ve mentioned before that I think Lamarcus Aldridge is nothing more than the third best player on a championship team. The fact that he is being expected to lead this team (when it was obvious he couldn’t because of how he immediately deferred to Brandon Roy the moment Roy came back from injury) is delusional and unfair to both the fans and Lamarcus. That type of pressure is how careers are derailed and, possibly, eventually, destroyed. You’d think Portland fans would be sensitive to this by now, but you know what they say? Fool me once, I’ll forget it ever happened and continue to be fooled. (It’s a really stupid saying and someone should argue with the logic.)
We should know better as fans, but we’re so irrationally possessed by wanting to be a part of a winner that we allow our passions to cloud our ability to be rational. We want our team to be the band no one else knows.
Portland fans must be especially eager to find the next big thing because Aldridge isn’t the only guy they’ve blindly upheld in an effort to appear smart. As mentioned before, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard have also been backed unconditionally as the other two players that will round out Portland’s own Big Three. Neither of which should be expected to produce better than Sixth Man numbers.
(The “Big Three,” by the way, is an idea that I hate as it continues to perpetuate around the league as a necessary way to create a team. Yes, it worked for Miami, but they also had players that were performing roles the team needed by the time they actually won the championship last year. What you need are talented players capable of fulfilling roles imperative to winning. Defense, three-point shooting, rebounding, a willingness to set picks, etc. You know, chemistry.
Also, Big Three doesn’t mean three players in the Top 20. That’s a luxury. Trying to get a Big Three like Miami or Los Angeles have is ridiculous because they don’t merely have a Big Three, they have three of the most talented players at their position—four of which, Bryant, Nash, James and Wade are sure-fire Hall of Famers. Of course their plan worked! Just like Catch Me If You Can had Steven Spielberg, Leonardo DiCaprio AND Tom Hanks… Of course that worked!)
Obviously declarations shouldn’t be made concretely after only two preseason games, but the progress of our team so far, let alone the idea of a Big Three, has been as effective as asking a politician for a straight answer. And even though this season’s expectations are reasonably low, there is still a delusion that this level of suck is seemingly temporary in that people (fans) expect Portland to be markedly better by next year. Unfortunately, however, the cast that they’re relying on to eventually contend are more likely to toil in bit parts of a Will Ferrell movie than transcendently win back-to-back Oscars.