As the Blazers have fought to stay above .500 and begun to finally have some success in doing so as of late, winning 9 of their last 12, much as been made of the team's struggle to make the playoffs for a 22nd straight year. Because of the long streak, there is a lot of pride at stake for the team and its fans. But I for one am all but hoping that the team does not make the playoffs. In the last few weeks the Los Angeles Lakers, a team I loathe more than words can describe, have re-emerged as the NBA's best team. So if Portland were to make the playoffs at the 8th and final seed in the Western Conference, there is an overwhelming likelihood that the Blazers would play the Lakers and, as we all pretty much know, get demolished. The reason I despise the Lakers is essentially pure jealousy. The Blazers have been beaten by Los Angeles many a time in the playoffs, with the 1991 and 2000 seasons being especially heartbreaking. Both years I'm convinced we would have won the NBA championship had we gotten by them in the Western Conference Finals. So why are Blazer fans putting their hopes into becoming first-round cannon fodder for a team that starts four future Hall-of-Famers? If this were a military exercise, our generals would prudently retreat and regroup for a later fight, when we could realistically hope to win. Of course the Blazers can't say they don't want to make the playoffs, but let me say it for them. There's nothing to gain except a lost lottery pick in the upcoming draft. Nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing Stoudamire, Ratliff, Miles and company beat Los Angeles. But there's about a 1% chance of that happening, and no Portland fan, especially one who hates the Lakers as much as I do, wants to see another playoff defeat to that wretched hive of scum and villany dressed in purple and gold. A couple more decent trades or draft picks and the Blazers can be back in the championship race in a year or two. I'm setting my sights on that.