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Ben's Babbles: The game giveth, the game taketh away

Feb. 26, 2011

One day a player is on your hometown team, and you pour your heart and voice into rooting for them.

The next day they are somewhere else, perhaps on a rival team.

Such is the nature of sports trades.

On Wednesday night, longtime Trailblazers center Joel Pryzbilla was playing for the Blazers against the Los Angeles Lakers.

By Thursday afternoon he was a member of the Charlotte Bobcats, along with teammates Dante Cunningham and Sean Marks.

Pryzbillla is a longtime fan favorite, Cunningham a new fan favorite.

Those are the toughest kinds of players for fans to see go.

Earlier this winter the Portland Timbers traded goalkeeper Steve Cronin, an icon in the Portland soccer community, to D.C United.

The deal was met with brief shock by Timbers fans - Cronin had helped the team introduce its MLS jerseys just days earlier - soon turning into acceptance that the deal improved the team.

It's a lot easier to accept trades of hometown heroes if you believe the team will get better.

I remember sitting in Cheney Stadium on July 31, 1998 listening to the public address announcer give updates on Randy Johnson being traded from the Seattle Mariners and hoping they would not screw up the trade.

They wound up getting two fairly good players, Freddy Garcia and Carlos Gullien back. Of course, a few years later, when they traded both those players, they got next to nothing back, so I guess you take the good with the bad.

As sports fans we want to have hometown heroes, but we also want winning teams. It's an unfortanate part of the business of pro sports that those two things don't always go hand in hand.

Players like Pryzbilla and Cronin were beloved by their fan bases. They will still love those players, but they will be cheering for their team even more.

During the Blazers-Lakers game, Steve Blake, another beloved former Trail Blazer, now playing for the hated Lakers checked into the game.

He got a loud round of applause.

A few minutes later, the fans were chanting "Beat LA!"

Fan love for a player may be deep, but love for their team is even stronger.

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