[Ed's note: We're rolling out a 'Fun Facts' on every team in the NBA before the season starts. For more information and to see the other teams profiled, please go here.]
Everyone knows all the reasons for optimism in Portland these days. Before we get into this too much, we will caution you about "it" teams. A few seasons ago, the entire world and their mothers thought the San Francisco 49ers would win 11 games. Flash forward: Alex Smith=punchline and Mike Nolan=unemployed. This season, we put the Houston Texans on our NFL Preview cover. A team in their division, the Tennessee Titans, is quietly woodshedding the entire NFL. Point being: sometimes, things don't pan out as planned. Still…Oden, Roy, Aldridge, Bayless, Fernandez, Blake? Sheesh. To quote Andy Samberg in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist: "We love you, canary."
1. The reason LaMarcus Aldridge went to Texas at all, rather than coming right out for the NBA Draft, was because of advice given to him by Shaquille O'Neal.
2. Here's one clip that explains excitement about the Blazers.
3. Joel Przybilla nickname time: "The Vanilla Gorilla" / "Joel Dolla-Dolla-Billa" / "Joel Przybilla The Thrilla" / "Joel Daddy" / "White Kong" / "Ghostface Przybilla." We'll go with this too: "Oden's backup."
4. People in Portland are so excited about this team, they are centering their weddings around it.
6. Two odd things about Raef LaFrentz: he was a championship-caliber swimmer in high school and he is one of three players in the 1990s to be selected first-team All-American twice in college. The other two? Shaquille O'Neal and fellow swimmer-turned-hoopster Tim Duncan.
7. Welcome to the NBA, Rudy Fernandez. You'll do well here.
8. The Blazers Dancers now have their own reality show.
9. The Blazers also have "a stunt team."