While we waited in line for well over 30 minutes to get close enough for me to zoom in and take this photo, I did my usual people watching and listening thing. You'd think I'd have plenty to remember, but when I leaned to my right, saw Wesley, raised my camera, zoomed in, and clicked, then looked at the resulting photo, my mind went blank. I couldn't believe that I'd managed to take such a fine photo. I vividly remember my first Player Palooza when I got a smile out of Wesley as we walked along the concourse side-by-side for a moment--I said to him, awestruck to be in that particular space and moment, "Wesley, you're even more handsome in person than you are on TV!" Like my little Mama always said, "I'm an ol' lady. I can say what I want to say!" I'm following her lead, for sure.
March 5 Wesley went down during a home game and didn't hop up immediately as he did 99.99% of the time. I watched him attempt to get up, first on his knees, then put his left foot on the floor, realize it wasn't going to happen, go down on his back, his hands clasped on his forehead--I don't want to think about the thoughts racing through his mind as he realized how bad this could actually be--while play continued to my left, wondering why didn't someone stop play and come to check on him. Thank goodness soon Blazers came to Wesley, the first two to get there were Robin Lopez and Meyers Leonard, followed quickly by staff who helped him up and off the court, then through the tunnel leading to the locker room and treatment area.
Every few seconds, I glanced at the Blazers' bench, hoping to see him come back, knowing it probably wouldn't happen during the game. I'm not sure how much later this happened, but I noticed Paul Allen, Blazers' owner, coming back to his seat from the tunnel and knew in my heart of hearts that he'd been to check on Wesley and that the news would not be good. Turned out he'd ruptured his left Achilles tendon, a fluke when he stepped out after catching a pass so that he could dribble, something he'd done countless times in his years of playing the game he loves, a split second in time that took our Ironman (as he's known by one and all around here) out for the rest of the season. Rats for him. Rats for us. Phooey, phooey, phooey.
He's made it successfully through surgery and hopefully will be signed as an unrestricted free agent this summer and remain a Portland Trail Blazer for years to come. It's time for Paul Allen and the Blazers' powers-that-be to step up for this 28-year-old young man who has busted it big time for the team since he arrived in 2010. One thing for sure, Wesley Matthews will work at it until he's successfully rehabilitated, ready to go.
Thanks for keeping in touch with us on Instagram and Facebook, Wesley--we miss you and want you to heal well so that you can come back for yourself and for us, your loyal fans.