The Blazers have done it. Despite a loss in Houston tonight, they officially clinched a playoff spot as Phoenix lost in Dallas. This is the first time Portland has made the playoffs since 2003... 6 years ago.
That's a long time, longer than it may seem on paper. Need proof? Let's hop into our time machine, the "Obscenely Expensive Way-Back-atron 9000," and travel to the land of yesteryear.
In 2003, the Blazers' leading scorers were, in order, Rasheed Wallace, Bonzi Wells, Derek Anderson, Scottie Pippen, and Zack Randolph. They finished in a tie for 2nd place in the Pacific division (the Northwest Division hadn't even been created yet).
Current Blazers LaMarcus Aldridge, Martell Webster, Greg Oden, Travis Outlaw, Nicholas Batun, and Jerryd Bayless were all in High School. Brandon Roy was a freshman in college.
Head Coach Nate McMillian was in his third year as head coach of the Seattle SuperSonics. Heck, in 2003, there was an NBA franchise in Seattle (David Stern, I'm shaking my fist in your direction!).
The 2003 NBA champs were the San Antonio Spurs, who beat the New Jersey Nets in the Finals.
Elsewhere in the world of sports, 2003 saw championships for the Florida Marlins, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the New Jersey Devils.
Seattle's Safeco Field took a break from baseball to host a crowd of 54,097 for Wrestlemania 19.
At movie theaters, people flocked to see "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," "Finding Nemo," and "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," all to the tune of $300 million dollars in ticket sales each.
Millions of readers hit book stores to buy "Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix," J.K. Rowling's 5th book about the boy wizard and his friends (for those of you living under rocks, the 7th and final book is now almost two years old in 2009).
On tv, both UPN and The WB were still in business. The SciFi Channel produced a controversial mini-series, a "reimagining" of the classic 70's show "Battlestar Galactica," featuring Starbuck as a woman (played by Oregon's own Katee Sackhoff). I think that one turned out okay.
My word... 2003 was a long time ago!
Fortunately for Blazers' fans, I don't think you'll have to wait another six years for the team's next playoff appearance.