Blazer basketball

Center Robin Lopez is a fan favorite in Portland with his distinctive hairdo, Stanford pedigree and a genuine love for comic books..

Center Robin Lopez is a fan favorite in Portland with his distinctive hairdo, Stanford pedigree and a genuine love for comic books..

The 2014-15 National Basketball Association season gets underway tonight with a game between the Dallas Mavericks and the defending champion San Antonio Spurs. Tomorrow, it will be Portland’s turn, when the Trail Blazers debut at home against Oklahoma City.

The franchise has won only one NBA championship — way back in 1977, when Bill Walton was healthy and playing at a level worthy of being named the league’s Moat Valuable Player — but that doesn’t mean Blazer fans are any less fervent.

Count me among those who root for this group of high-energy, high-character guys who knocked out the Houston Rockets  from last season’s playoffs on an unbelievable last-second shot by Damian Lilliard — and who this year hope to advance beyond the Western Conference semifinals.

I’m more excited than usual because, thanks to a well-connected friend, I was able to buy a one-third share of a 21-game season ticket package for the 2014-15 season. Translation: 7 home games.

We gathered Sunday and took turns choosing which games we wanted to attend. I came out with a great mix of games spanning the months of November to March, starting with Dallas on Nov. 6 and ending with Houston on March 11. In between, I’m set up to see Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles Lakers, Washington and San Antonio.

Like everyone else here in Rip City — the nickname bestowed by former play-by-play announcer Bill Schonely — I have high hopes for this season. With All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard still improving and complementary starters Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez providing additional scoring, rebounding and defense, the Blazers ought to be able to improve on their No. 5 seed finish from a year before.

If they stay injury-free and catch fire at season’s end, who knows? Maybe they can make it to the conference finals.

Can’t wait to see these guys play.

Photograph: Craig Mitchelldyer, USA TODAY Sports  

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