I think I will always remember it as 'Monday Night Raw-Sheed.'- The Rose Garden was packed as World Wrestling Entertainment Ñ Vince McMahon's group Ñ put on a wildly successful live television show. About half the Trail Blazers were there, seated just a few feet away from me.
Wes Person was ringside with his wife and children, and when I saw Jerome Kersey ask him to leave his seat for a meeting, I knew something was up. When I saw the look on Person's face as he returned from the meeting, I knew what it was. When Kersey came for Rasheed Wallace, there was little doubt the trade had gone down.
Both players left the arena floor right away. Too bad, they missed the best part of the show. After 'Raw' goes off live TV, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin always heads into the ring, drinks a few beers and entertains the crowd. He was there for more than half an hour on Monday. It was a shame Wallace missed it.
At one point, author-wrestler Mick Foley grabbed the microphone and told another grappler, Rob Van Dam, that he had a present for him. Foley told Van Dam that he was going to take him back to the Portland locker room and give him Wallace's bag.
'You can have anything you find in it,' Foley said with a smile, pantomiming a man taking a hit off a joint.
The crowd laughed, of course. But the final joke was on Wallace, whose bag was probably already gone.
Rasheed, as you left the Blazer locker room for the final time, you did so as the butt of yet another joke. And while your dope problems didn't reach the proportions of some of your teammates', your reputation as an all-around disagreeable person is legendary.
You were our public embarrassment, Rasheed. You were the dribbled soup on our tie. The zipper that somehow worked its way open in a public place.
We're free, Portland. Free at last.
In terms of the trade itself, I'll first congratulate John Nash and Steve Patterson on pulling off the deal. They are quality men who are working hard to make this a better place. I'll also congratulate Paul Allen for once again opening his wallet. The payroll is going to be huge again next season.
I don't know Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Theo Ratliff well enough to comment on their abilities. But I'll pass along a couple of opinions from others.
'One NBA executive who has been hot on Abdur-Rahim's tail over the past month or so came to the following conclusion after doing his share of due diligence,' wrote Peter May on ESPN.com. 'Shareef is a scorer, a terrific guy, a nontroublemaker, a popular teammate and last, but certainly not least, a guy who would rather be No. 2 on his team. In other words, he's like a lot of terrific talents. É Some guys need to be the caddy.'
Chad Ford, writing for ESPN Insider, was not impressed.
'Before the Blazers can credibly claim they have moved into a 'new era,' they better check their roster one more time,' Ford wrote. 'Yes, they've dumped Bonzi Wells, a repeated offender in Portland. Wallace is gone, too, which is great. But left behind are numskulls like Ruben Patterson, Damon Stoudamire and, to a lesser extent, Zach Randolph and Qyntel Woods. While the face of the Blazers has undoubtedly changed, they still have more troublemakers on their roster than anyone else in the league. Let's not take down the Neighborhood Watch signs yet.
'How about that headline on Blazers.com: 'Blazers Trade for Two All-Stars.' Did anyone else do a double take at that?' he continued. 'Who writes these things? Does the fact that Ratliff and Abdur-Rahim were All-Stars once (like in 1776) still qualify them to be termed an All-Star?
'Is anyone else concerned that Portland's three best players all play the same position Ñ power forward?
Ford continued: 'Before firing off those nasty e-mails, Blazer fans, let's all admit that Randolph has been fatally exposed to too much Blazer-itus. He's showing all the symptoms, and despite his great scoring and rebounding numbers, he's among the laziest defenders in the league and can't pass out of a double-team. Mark some of this down to immaturity, but also realize that some guys never outgrow that. Why not trade him while he's hot? Abdur-Rahim is better at the '4' anyway.'
OK, the job is not done in Portland. We all agree on that. In fact, the way it's set up now, the contracts of almost the entire roster expire after next season. That's a little scary.
But the sun was out all week. Clouds parted. People are smiling. It feels cleaner and brighter along the banks of the Willamette.
Ever since 'Monday Night Raw-Sheed.'