The Utah Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers have a long history and some would say it's really the Jazz's oldest rivalry. For whatever reason, Portland has been one of those teams that has really been a thorn in the side of the Jazz going all the way back to those 80s / 90s teams of Clyde Drexler, Jerome Kersey, and Terry Porter. Oh! And don't forget Cliff Robinson, who used to always kill the Jazz with an untimely 3 pointer somehow. They snuffed out our chances of going to the finals in the 91-92 season and they were there to effectively put an end to the dominant run of Stockton and Malone teams in 99 and 2000.
One could argue that the Jazz as a franchise have had more success over the last 20 years by going to the finals twice, but Portland is just one of those teams that always seems to have our number, no matter who they put out on the floor.
Then there is the matter of the two teams front office battles. Have you heard the one about the Jazz being the "unofficial" Portland farm team? I don't know if Portland just has sour grapes towards us because we drafted Stockton right out from under them or if there is something else that we did to make them have a Great Salt Lake size vendetta against us, but it seems like they are always trying to make our lives difficult when it comes to free agents. In 2009 they signed restricted free agent Paul Millsap with a heavily front loaded contract. A lot of Jazz fans and media pundits alike saw that as something designed to make the Jazz squirm.
Luckily the Utah Jazz front office decided to match on that one (if only for principle), but the very next summer they were at it again and forced the Jazz to let Wesley Matthews go with a similar offer that pretty much unraveled what had been a fairly successful and fun to watch Deron Williams / Carlos Boozer / Mehmet Okur / Andrei Kirilenko era team. We can only speculate now how far that team would have gone if they only could have stuck it out for a couple more years. I would like to see the Miller's do the same thing with Damian Lillard if they ever get the chance, you never know they might be force to let him walk:).
Anyway, I am excited that we get to focus on the Jazz being good this year and hopefully that means that we can not only avoid losing to this team on opening night but also finish this year ahead of them in the division. I respect the Blazers to some degree but there would be nothing sweeter than to contribute in some small way to them either not making the playoffs or better yet, us eliminating them in the playoffs on our way to a title run this year.