The Blazers just acquired Freddy Jones from the Raptors for Johnny Dixon. Needless to say, I'm downright giddy right now. The thought crossed my mind to take the rest of the afternoon off and celebrate with a bottle of bubbly. It's no secret that I really don't like Dixon, what many of you don't know is that one of my all time favorite players is Freddy Jones. I thought about titling this post "Freddy Jones and Me" but The Other Guy is certain to have his thoughts on the deal as well and that didn't seem accurate. Anyway, let's get started.
I was at the U of O in the mid 90's, Freddy Jones arrived my senior year and a guy I knew who followed high school basketball was absolutely thrilled with this development. He had stated that he was going to alter the course of college basketball at Oregon. I was obviously 21 years old at the time and thought nothing of the reigning 2 time Oregon high school player of the year. I had heard he was super athletic and thought this might be fun, seeing as how at the time I believe the Ducks had 1 player who could dunk, Jersey Curry.
The first game of the season (I think it was Fresno State), about halfway through the first half he came streaking down the side and took off, we stood on the floor in the first row underneath the basket when I was at school. They used to let us stand about 2 feet from the baseline. Freddy took off and it was like time had stopped, he was outside of the key when he went airborne and threw down the most thundering tomahawk dunk I've ever seen. The crowd at first didn't even cheer but gave the a shriek, it wasn't even your typical "oooooh", then...pandemonium. We had our new hero.
The rest of his freshmen year was filled with some dunks that spread across campus like urban legend. He also got trash talked by Jason Terry into missing two free throws with only a couple seconds left on the clock that could have beaten Top 5 ranked Arizona. I still hate Jason Terry to this day.
Unfortunately, the next couple years for Freddy went this same way. He'd have a few dunks that were like throwing chum in the water for sharks, we ate it up, and every once in a while he'd fire down a couple 3's in back to back possessions and we'd think we had something. He'd then disappear for the rest of the game. He was glossed "The 1 Minute Michael" due to his 1 minute on the floor that resembled His Airness and the other 29 minutes that resembled a guy who was just out for an evening jog.
Then his senior year came. He had a dynamic point guard in Luke Ridnour, a solid do everything wing in Luke Jackson, and everything finally clicked. They started running and gunning, Luke with the crazy floor vision started finding Freddy for an aerial assault of dunks, and he'd drive and dish and he'd be wide open for 3 pointers. He was dominant. The crowning moment, or so I thought, was just obliterating Arizona down in the desert. The Ducks were up 28, Freddy steals, outlets to Ridnour who takes it straight to the basket on the break, only he doesn't lay it in, he goes off the backboard for a two handed dunk that basically sent every Duck fan into a state of Nirvana.
They won the Pac 10, locked up a 2 seed, and then crushed Montana in round one of the Big Dance. Then came Wake Forest, a rugged ACC team that pushed the Ducks around for much of the night. With about 10 minutes to go, they'd fought their way back and were just looking for that momentum boost, enter Freddy. He took a missed jumper for a follow 2 handed slam that you could see on the looks of every Wake player had just stunned them. Like a Tyson uppercut, that was ballgame.
Following that game came the sweet 16 matchup, early foul trouble, 2 points all night, tie game and last shot time against Texas. It was clear out for Freddy time. Freddy hit a little floater to send the Ducks to the Elite 8 and there was dogpiling in a bar in NW Portland. Alas, they lost to Kansas two days later and Freddy's career at Oregon was over.
I still talk to my buddies about what it would be like to have Freddy or one of the Lukes here playing for the Blazers. Well, Freddy is coming. I'll put my money where my mouth is, I will be buying tickets for some games to close out this season, and I will love every moment of it. I don't know who's responsible for this, Subterfuge Stevie, Dwight K Shrute Pritchard, doesn't matter. You are on my cool list at the moment. Freddy Jones is a Portland Trailblazer. Just made my day.