Sunday , Jan , 10 , 2010 Oly Sandor

Will Nate McMillan Vs. Andre Miller be a positive for Portland Trail Blazers?

A little over two years ago, the club was mired in a losing streak and sitting in the cellar of the ultra competitive Western Conference. At a now infamous practice in December of 2007, the you-know-what hit the fan. Practicing at a San Antonio community centre, the team was frustrated and angry. It quickly spilled over. Players cussed each other out. Two exchanged shoves during an intense scrimmage. And mild-mannered Steve Blake pulled a WWE Raw is War by breaking a fold-up chair on the gym floor …

Will Nate McMillan Vs. Andre Miller be a positive for Portland Trail Blazers?The early indications are that Nate McMillan, Andre Miller, and the Portland Trail Blazers have moved past the coach and veteran point guard’s 30 minute shouting match at a recent mid-week practice.

On a team of individuals, this type of incident divides. On a team of solid citizens, this type of incident clarifies and unites.

For instance, on Friday evening, the Blazers beat the world champion Los Angeles Lakers 107-98 at the Rose Garden Arena. To be fair, Rip City typically gives the purple-and-gold trouble, but yesterday the entire Blazers team – from top to bottom – contributed to the win.

In fact, it sent a message to critics, fans, and the rest of the NBA: this team is together and capable of beating the very best. Nobody should be surprised Portland made such a statement, though.

A little over two years ago, the club was mired in a losing streak and sitting in the cellar of the competitive Western Conference. At a now infamous practice in December of 2007, the you-know-what hit the fan.

Practicing at a San Antonio community centre, the frustration spilled over. Players cussed each other out. Joel Przybilla and Maretell Webster exchanged shoves during a scrimmage. And mild-mannered Steve Blake pulled a WWE Raw is War by breaking a fold-up chair on the gym floor.

Strangely enough, this mayhem united the players, who immediately rattled off an impressive winning streak. Although Portland didn’t make the 2008 playoffs, their young talent started fulfilling it’s potential and became a team to watch.

That season has been both a gift and a curse. On the one hand, it killed the Jail Blazers legacy and brought to life basketball-mad Rip City. On the other hand, it brought enormous expectations – and, at times, Brandon Roy and company struggled with playing in a city that has one professional team.

Until now.

McMillan verses Miller could have the same impact as that December practice. After all, a confrontation had been brewing since Miller – who signed with the club as a free agent this summer because he thought he would start – has seen his role change several times.

Miller didn’t appreciate his coach blaming him at practice for advising Jerryd Bayless to make a late free throw in Tuesday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, so he yelled back. For half an hour. Good or bad, Miller’s reaction was probably the most he has said since arriving at training camp in October.

Hopefully, McMillan and Miller finally cleared the air. Hopefully, a teammate reaches out to Miller, who admits to being a loner. And hopefully, the Blazers – who have endured injuries and controversy  all season –  rally around this incident and put together a second half run.
  
If Friday is any indication, the early results look good.

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