THE TRANSCONTINENTAL NIGHT AWAITED. The Portland Trail Blazers have their own plane—Blazer One—so they would be saved the cramped legs and the baggage check-ins of normal commercial travel, but they still would spend a lot of time in the air. This was late Sunday afternoon. They were going home from Boston.
"How many hours is this going to take?" guard Terry Porter asked. "Seven?"
"Five and a half," forward Jerome Kersey said. "Maybe five."
"Six," trainer Mike Shimensky said. "We're probably going to have to stop for fuel in Billings, Montana. Headwinds."
"Six and a half," Kersey decided.
There had been a chance that this was going to be the longest trip of a mostly wonderful Blazer season, but now the hours did not seem to matter so much. The talk would be easy. Dinner would be a pleasure. A four-game losing streak, Portland's longest in two years, had been stopped with a 116-107 win over the Celtics in Boston Garden. Traveling into a headwind isn't so bad when you have the best record in basketball. The Blazers were still the best. Let everyone else push and jockey from behind. The Blazers would handle the headwind. Happily.
"Why are you wearing a sweatsuit for the trip?" Porter asked coach Rick Adelman. "Is this a new rule? If we win we can wear sweats; if we lose, we have to wear the suit and tie?"
"That's the new rule," Adelman said.
"Nobody told me. I'm wearing the suit and tie."
"Switch into the sweats. Be comfortable."