Chris Burkhardt

Hassan Whiteside isn't one of the league's best defenders, according to NBA coaches

Hassan Whiteside isn't one of the league's best defenders, according to NBA coaches

The Trail Blazers defense has struggled at times this season, but one person has been a standout from day one: Hassan Whiteside. 

Whiteside, who came over in an offseason trade with the Miami Heat, has done an incredible job filling in for the injured Jusuf Nurkic all season.

His very first night as a Blazer was a 16 point, 19 rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets on opening night. 

From there, he just kept climbing. 

Whitside is statistically having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 16.3 points and career-highs of 14.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.

Whiteside is the league's second-leading rebounder, trailing only Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons (15.2 rpg).

But where he is most untouchable is defensively at the rim. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

Whiteside leads the entire league in blocks per game at 3.1. That is nearly a full block more than the two players tied for second, Anthony Davis and Brook Lopez (2.5 bpg). 

Whiteside has 187 blocks on the season, compared to 147 for Lopez and 138 for Davis. Both Lopez and Whiteside have played 61 games, while Davis has played 55. 

Regardless, you think the league's second-leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker would be recognized for their defensive prowess, right? You'd be wrong. 

Jon Krawczynski and Josh Robbins of The Athletic anonymously polled 33 NBA coaches, some head coaches, some assistant coaches, to get their expert opinions. 

The coaches had to vote for the first-team and second-team all-league defensive teams, while 23 of the coaches also voted on Defensive Player of the Year. 

The only rule was they had to vote for two guards, two forwards, and one center for the all-league teams. 

So, where did Whiteside fall?

He fell all the way out of the coaches consciousness. 

Whiteside did not earn first of second-team All-League Defense, he also was not named Defensive Player of Year. 

The really surprising part, however, is that Whiteside didn't even receive a single vote for any of the lists. 

How can the league's leading blocker not even receive a vote for All-League defense? 

According to the coaches' vote, Rudy Gobert was the Center on the first-team, and Bam Adebayo was the Center on the second team. Other centers receiving votes included Brook Lopez, Joel Embiid, Myles Turner, Tristan Thompson, Steven Adams, Andre Drummond, Jarrett Allen, and Domantas Sabonis. 

[READ THE ENTIRE LIST HERE]

As for the Defensive Player of the Year, the coaches picked Rudy Gobert, with Brook Lopez and Bam Adebayo being the only other centers to receive votes. 

Here is how Whiteside compares to those three centers:

HASSAN WHITESIDE: 16.3 ppg, 14.2 rpg (10.2 drpg), 3.1 bpg

RUDY GOBERT: 15.1 ppg, 13.7 rpg (10.3 drpg), 2.0  bpg

BAM ADEBAYO: 16.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg (8.0 drpg), 1.3  bpg

BROOK LOPEZ: 11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg (3.8 drpg), 2.4  bpg

Whiteside averages more points (though that doesn't matter for defense), rebounds, and blocks than the three centers that made the list. The only category any of those centers beat Whiteside in is defensive rebounds, where Gobert averages 0.1 more per game... 0.1! 

When averaged out to a per 36, Whiteside leads in all categories.

HASSAN WHITESIDE PER 36: 18.7 ppg, 16.4 rpg (11.8 drpg), 3.5 bpg

RUDY GOBERT PER 36: 17.9 ppg, 14.5 rpg (10.2 drpg), 2.6 bpg

BAM ADEBAYO PER 36: 17.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg (8.3 drpg), 1.4 bpg

BROOK LOPEZ PER 36: 14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg (5.1 drpg), 3.3 bpg

However, Whiteside lags behind all three of those players in overall defensive rating: Lopez (99.1), Gobert (106.8), Adebayo(107.7), Whiteside (112.2)

More telling is that his individual defense hasn't led to overall improvements in team defense.

The Bucks lead the league in defensive efficiency (101.6), Utah is 11th (108.8), and Miami is 14th (109.2). The Blazers fall near the bottom, ranked 27th (113.6).

While the Blazers' struggles on defense aren't Whiteside's fault, the numbers show he isn't necessarily helping either.

As for the coaches, they value how a player impacts and changes the team defense over a player's individual numbers. Based on individual numbers alone, Whiteside should be in the conversation with those other centers, not an afterthought.

Again, how does the league's leading shot-blocker not even receive a vote for all-league defense? 

Luckily for Whiteside, the Blazers have at least eight more games for him to put on a defensive show.

Making the case for an Allen Crabbe return to Rip City

Making the case for an Allen Crabbe return to Rip City

The Blazers need help at the wing. They have needed help at the wing all season. It's part of the reason they shipped the underperforming Kent Bazemore to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza. 

Ariza provided the pop the Blazers lineup needed, averaging 11.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 21 games with the Blazers. 

He was the answer in the short term. However, due to a family matter, Ariza has opted not to play with the team in Orlando. This once again leaves the Blazers with a hole in the lineup.

The Blazers did make a signing this week, but it was for 6'0"point guard Jaylen Adams.  Adams isn't the big forward Portland fans wanted, so it left Rip City asking, "who could fill the void?"

Fans keep giving their opinions on social media, and two names keep popping up: Former Trail Blazers Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe. 

Unfortunately for Blazers fans, Turner isn't an option. 

ET was traded to the Timberwolves earlier this season but never played a single game for the Timberwolves. While he was a buy-out candidate, he was never officially waived by the Timberwolves. 

So, not only is Turner not an available Free Agent, it doesn't make sense for Minnesota to cut him at this point. 

Turner isn't a three-point threat like Ariza, but his defensive awareness and ability to run the second-unit make him valuable. Just look at his performance in the playoffs for Portland last season.

Again, while ET would be fun to have back, he just isn't a realistic option. 

Crabbe, however, is. 

One month before the Hawks traded Turner to the Timberwolves, they traded his teammate Allen Crabbe to Minnesota. 

Crabbe played nine games with the Timberwolves and was waived on February 29th. 

Crabbe struggled this season averaging 4.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 0.9 assists over 37 games played. Still, he would be valuable to the Blazers at this point. 

He offers them the size they need and has the perfect skill set to replace Ariza. The Blazers love a good three-point shooter, and Crabbe is shooting 38.7% for his career. 

Crabbe would also likely be asked to start at the three, and he has had success in the starting five. He started 68 games for the Brooklyn Nets in 2017-18 and averaged 13.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, all career-highs.

But what Crabbe offers more than anything is chemistry and knowledge of the system. 

Crabbe came to Portland via the Cleveland Cavaliers on a draft-night trade in 2013. That's right, you may not remember but Crabbe was a Trail Blazers rookie with CJ McCollum. 

Crabbe spent four seasons in Portland, meaning he has four seasons of experience playing alongside Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, as well as four years under head coach Terry Stotts.

He is the only wing on the market that Portland can sign and get up to speed without a major hiccup, and that is huge. 

The Blazers already have to re-integrate Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic into the lineup. The last thing they need is a new starting small forward with no experience in the system. Starting from scratch with two weeks before the season starts is not ideal. 

But with Crabbe, the Blazers could avoid that dilemma and hit the ground running. 

Is Crabbe the savior? Is he the missing piece to the championship puzzle? No, he's not. But he is a perfectly good solution to an unforeseen problem.

Portland is unlikely to make a signing before heading to Orlando, but if they do Allen Crabbe just makes sense. 

Damian Lillard weighs risks, rewards of restarting NBA season

Damian Lillard weighs risks, rewards of restarting NBA season

The NBA is set to restart the suspended 2019-2020 season in just a few weeks. 

Teams are prepping to head to the "NBA Bubble" in Orlando, Florida, but there have already been setbacks. 

Multiple teams have reported positive COVID-19 tests, with some players testing positive and opting out of a return to Orlando. 

On Tuesday, the Pelicans became the latest team to report cases. 

Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard knows there are risks involved, but are they worth it? 

"I don't think I'm ever gonna be 100% comfortable, because I understand there's no way that this can be kept 100% safe," Lillard told Shams Charania of The Athletic. "That means there's risk involved that involves my health, so, obviously, that's what makes me uncomfortable about it. Like I've said before, it's a risk that I'm willing to take."

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

Lillard is willing to take the risk for one simple reason: A chance at an NBA Championship. 

My motivation is to get in the playoffs. For one, we want to play for a chance at a championship. I think everybody's coming back with some rust on 'em. Some teams gonna have guys that choose not to play. Some guys gonna be disinterested, wanting to go about their summer. Some guys gonna be out of shape...It's gonna be a lot of factors that give a lot of teams a chance to actually come in here and win it. I think that's part of my motivation, is knowing there is a legit chance... We got our starting power forward and center back. We're a healthier team. That's motivation. - Damian Lillard on the NBA Restart

NBA titles are hard to come by. Just 11 different teams have won the championship since 1990, with multiple teams repeating or three-peating. 

Lillard led the Blazers to the brink of the NBA Finals with an appearance in the Western Conference Finals last season, and even that was rare. It was the first time since the year 2000 that that Blazers had made it that deep into the playoffs. 

But now, more than ever, the Blazers have a chance. Every team is on a level playing field, having all been stuck in self-isolation due to the pandemic. 

As with any playoff run, it's about getting hot at the right time. Given the circumstances in 2020, it's anyone's guess as to which team will be the hot one down in Florida. 

Lillard is hoping it's the Blazers.

"I'm not trying to go there and waste a month and a half and just go back home," said Lillard. "I could have been at home this whole time. If I go there, I'm going to stay. I'm going to try and extend my stay there. That's also motivation."

Damian Lillard named NBA 2K21 cover athlete

Damian Lillard named NBA 2K21 cover athlete

Damian Lillard has accomplished a lot in his eight-year career. 

He's a five-time NBA All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection, was 2012-13 Rookie of the Year, and just last season he helped lead the Blazers to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in nearly two decades.

Now he can add one more accomplishment to the list: 2K cover athlete. 

It was announced Tuesday morning that Lillard would be one of three cover athletes for NBA 2K21. 

The news was first announced by Shams Charania of The Athletic, and later confirmed by 2K Sports. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

Lillard was averaging a career-high 28.9 points and 7.8 assists per game this year before the season was suspended, and holds averages of 24.0 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.2 rebounds for his career.

"It means a lot. It's one of those things that it's like a signature shoe. Everybody just don't get it," Lillard told Charania. "To be able to join the line of the players that's been on the cover of 2K, it's an honor... Every time I come across a game that is my favorite year of a game, the way that you recognize it is by 'A.I. was on that cover' or 'Kobe was on that cover,' that was my favorite one. Just to join that group and have that honor, man, it's cool. Real cool."

The 2K series debuted on the Sega Dreamcast in 1999 with Allen Iverson on the cover. In the 21 years since, the NBA 2K series has become one of the most popular gaming franchises in the world, and players like Shaq, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant have graced the game's over. 

While this is Lillard's first time on the NBA 2K cover, it's not his first time on a video game cover. He was previously the cover athlete of EA Sports NBA Live 15, as well as NBA 2K Online 2, a spin-off of the NBA 2k franchise that is exclusive to the Chinese market.

"I made it. I'm gonna be on the cover of NBA 2K." - Damian Lillard

 

Damian Lillard picks his wrestling Mt.Rushmore

Damian Lillard picks his wrestling Mt.Rushmore

It's no secret that Trail Blazers star point guard Damian Lillard is a huge wrestling fan. 

He grew up watching what is known as the Attitude Era of WWE, where he gravitated to wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin.

In fact, ADIDAS released a Dame 3:16 version of the Dame 6s, a Stone Cold inspired colorway this season. Lillard even once came to a game dressed as Stone Cold on Halloween, and Stone Cold approved. 

On Wednesday, former NBA player Tony Wroten asked his followers who they would put on their wrestling Mt. Rushmore. Wroten picked The Rock, Stone Cold, Undertaker, and a tie between Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels.

What about Lillard? You know Stone Cold would be on his list, but what other wrestlers would he pick? 

Lillard chimed in to let us know. 

Lillard is rolling with Stone Cold, The Rock, Ric Flair, and tie between Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart. 

Something stood out to me on this list and Lillard must have seen it too,  because he edited his list Thursday morning. 

I'm glad Lillard fixed that mistake. 

Undertaker is easily one of the greatest to ever step foot in the squared circle. He is, by far, the best seven-footer of all-time. Glad Lillard fixed that list and got him right where he belongs. 

Not only was he smart enough to add Undertaker, he took the correct wrestler off his list: Hulk Hogan

Let's talk about Hogan for a second. People always tend to throw him on top of any greatest wrestler of all-time list, but I don't think they should.  

I'll give it to Hogan. He was the most marketable wrestler of all-time. He helped create the spectacle that is Wrestlemania, led WWF to a global platform, and his NWO run with WCW, and subsequent rivalry with Sting, is one of the greatest stories in wrestling history. 

But between the ropes, he was as one dimensional as they come. He was a 6'7", 300lb mountain of muscle with three moves in his arsenal: Bodyslam. Big boot. Leg drop. 

That's it. 

He was ok on the mic, but outside of saying your prayers and eating your vitamins, not a lot of people can remember a solid Hulk Hogan promo. He was no Rock, Flair, Stone Cold, Macho Man, Dusty Rhodes, of Chris Jericho on the mic, that's for sure. At least he was better than Sycho Sid. 

What he was, was The Hulkster. The perfect Vince McMahon look at the perfect time in wrestling. He couldn't miss.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Hogan, especially as Hollywood, but wrestling is more than just marketability. It takes charisma, skill in the ring, skill on the mic, and much more, and Hogan isn't what you would call a "five-tool" player. 

Hogan deserves to be in the conversation of greatest wrestlers of all time, and he certainly makes the top 10. What he did for the business cannot be denied. I just don't think he is on Mt.Rushmore. 

After a night to sleep it off and think it over, Lillard agreed. 

And that's the bottom line, because Damian Lillard said so. 

The night the NBA Draft called Portland home

The night the NBA Draft called Portland home

It was on this date in 1992 that Shaquille O'neal was selected with the first overall pick in the NBA Draft.

But did you know that Shaquille O'Neal was drafted in Portland?

Not by Portland. In Portland. 

For those of you that don't recall, the 1992 NBA was held inside Portland's Veterans Memorial Coliseum. It was the first time since 1959 that that draft had been held outside of New York City.

At the time, the draft was thought to be one of the deepest in NBA history. While the class as a whole didn't like up to expectations, there were some incredible standouts.

The top two picks ended up being all-time greats with O'Neal going to the Orlando Magic and Alonzo Mourning going to the Charlotte Hornets.


 

[Listen to the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Blazers TV analyst Lamar Hurd].

Portland rolled out the red carpet and 8,000+ fans filled the same arena that had hosted the Portland Trail Blazers vs Chicago Bulls NBA Finals just a few week prior. 

Those fans not only saw O'Neal and Mourning go one-two, but they saw NCAA star and can't miss prospect Christian Laettner go No.3 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Other notable players in the 1992 NBA Draft included:

  • Jim Jackson (No.4 to Dallas)
  • LaPhonso Ellis (No.5 to Denver)
  • Tom Gugliotta ( No.6 to Washington)
  • Walt Williams (No.7 to Sacramento)
  • Clarence Weatherspoon (No.9 to Philadelphia)
  • Robert Horry (No.11 to Houston)
  • Malik Sealy (No.14 to Indiana)
  • Doug Christie (No.17 to Seattle)
  • Jon Barry (No.21 to Boston)
  • Latrell Sprewell (No.24 to Golden State)
  • P.J. Brown (No.29 to New Jersey)

While many of the players in the draft had solid careers, it failed to produce many stars. In fact, only four players (O'Neal - 15x, Mourning - 7x, Sprewell - 4x, Gugliotta - 1x, and Laettner - 1x) ever made an All-Star team.

The best players in the draft would end up being O'Neal, Mourning, and Sprewell, with O'Neal and Mourning both being elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. 

The two would team together in Miami in 2006 to win the NBA Championship. 

While he may not be a Hall of Famer, No.11 pick Robert Horry has most of the hardware in this class. By the time his career was over, he had seven NBA titles: Two with the Rockets in '94 and '95, a threepeat with Shaq and the Lakers from '00-'02, and two with the Spurs in '05 and '07. 

Horry is tied with Jim Loscutoff and Frank Ramsey for the fourth-most championship by a single player. But it should be noted that he is the only player with seven or more rings that didn't play for the 1963 Boston Celtics.

The NBA Draft changed host cities throughout the 90s before settling back in NYC for the 2001 draft. Since 2001, only two drafts have been held outside of New York, and those were both across the river in New Jersey. 

It's been nearly 20 years since the NBA Draft was held away from the East coast, and 28 years since it settled in Portland. Rip City wouldn't be upset if it returned in the future. 

If it never does, the city will always have June 24th, 1992 and the night the legendary Shaq officially became part of the NBA. 

NBA GMs wary of NBA bubble

NBA GMs wary of NBA bubble

The NBA is set to return in Orlando next month, despite coronavirus still ravaging the United States.

Florida is reporting 1,000s of cases per day, and Orange County in particular, where Orlando is located, has seen a serious uptick in cases.

To help keep players and staff safe, the NBA plans to protect them in a "bubble." No, not a literal bubble, but a figurative bubble that will limit players to hotels and game/practice facilities, with limited contact with non-essential staff. 

But not everyone is so sure about how the NBA bubble will work, given the increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide.  

Sam Amick of the Athletic polled 10 of the 22 GMs whose teams are heading to Orlando, and some of them were less than optimistic. 

One anonymous GM described the feeling of heading to the bubble as “Uncomfortable."  

 A lot of uncertainty. I know all the proper measures are being taken but there)is still a lot unknown. You know and I know why we are playing - for the money. If not that, do you really think we would be playing? I get it, and I’m in…but with hesitation.  - Anonymous NBA GM

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While the GMs praised Adam Silver for what he is doing and the safety protocols in place, there are still holes in the plan that could put players at risk.

For instance, Disney staffers on location, such as housekeeping, will not be required to stay in the bubble. They will come and go as they please, limiting contact with players in the process. Room cleaning will only be done when players are gone, but there is still risk. 

It's hard to isolate when you are letting random people into the bubble. 

Said one GM, “It is, by definition, no longer a bubble, and so even the illusion of a safer environment is gone.”

Not to mention, outside of the health risks provided by COVID-19, there are potential mental risks as well. Players will not be able to bring family into the bubble until after the first round of the playoffs. Even then, the numbers will be limited. 

For teams that make it all the way to the NBA Finals, they would be going on three months without seeing family they have come accustomed to seeing every day. 

That can be a mental struggle for anyone not used to isolating themselves from family for extended periods of time, and it becomes even harder to do when you have to do so inside a bubble. 

“Most of these guys aren’t familiar with the psychology of deployment, and finding safe opportunities to integrate familiarity and normalcy into their lives will go a long way,” one GM said.

Player safety isn't the only thing GMs are thinking about, but they are concerned that the quality of play could take a hit. 

Some of the teams heading to Orlando have very slim chances of making the playoffs. If players feel they aren't going to make the postseason, and would rather be home with their families, you could see the play on the court take a hit. 

In fact, there have been some reports that teams could just be using Orlando as a summer league of sorts to develop younger talent. 

If you’re not playing for anything, the quality of play is going to be really, really bad... “The unintended consequences of it are so bad in every way. …That’s a problem for our product, and the only way you really get past that is if you allow families to be there right from the jump and the only way you can apparently let family be there right from the jump is if you take fewer other bodies (overall).- Anonymous NBA GM 

No matter how good the bubble is, it still may not be enough to protect players. In recent days Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets, Malcolm Brogdon of the Pacers, and Jabari Parker of the Kings have all tested positive for the virus. 

As teams test their players ahead of travel to Orlando, it is inevitable that more players will test positive. 

At least one GM thinks players testing positive now is a good thing. Said the anonymous GM, “All these positive tests that will inevitably come in on players and staff, it gives them the opportunity to be as healthy as possible to be there, to get to Orlando.”

But others are not so sure. A player like Jokic isolating right now puts him far behind his teammates and other teams because he can't workout with the team while he quarantines.  As Amick put it. "The lower-tier teams, especially, could be hurt by this sort of situation as they try to gain ground during the regular season games and qualify for the top 16."

If this all goes off without a hitch, it will be a cause for celebration for not just the NBA, but the sports world as a whole... but that's a big if. 

You can read Amick's full piece here. 

[Listen to the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Blazers TV analyst Lamar Hurd].

 

MLB set to return for 60-game season-- Here is what it will look like

MLB set to return for 60-game season-- Here is what it will look like

MLB baseball commissioner Rob Manfred announced on Tuesday that Major League Baseball would be making its return. 

According to the official press release, players can start reporting to camp on July 1st, with games to begin on either July 23rd or 24th. 

With much of the season already lost to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league will play a modified 60-game season. 

What will that season look like?

Let's first take a look at some other sports leagues like the NWSL, MLS, and NBA, all of which drastically altered their respective seasons to return to play.

Both MLS and the NWSL will skip traditional "regular season" play, instead choosing to play World Cup style tournaments. Due to having more games in a shorter time frame, MLS has expanded roster size and increased the number of substitutions allowed in-game. Both leagues will have all their teams report on one central location, with all MLS games being played in Orlando, and all NWSL games being played in Utah. 

The NBA will return next month, and like MLS it will be doing so with all its teams meeting in Orlando. The league will return with an eight-game regular season to decide playoff seeding. Teams not currently in the top eight have a small chance to catch up and make the playoffs. Once the "regular season" is done, if the ninth place team is less than four games behind the team in eighth place, than there will be a sudden-death style game to decide who gets the eighth and final playoff spot. Once the playoffs start, it's business as usual for the NBA, with the NBA Finals scheduled for late October. 

As for the MLB, it will look drastically different as well, including some very interesting rules changes. 

Here is what the season will look like:

  • The season will be 60 games in length
  • The proposed schedule will feature mostly divisional play, with remaining games to be interleague games played against the corresponding division. I.E., The AL West will play teams from the NL West
  • Each team will play 10 games against their division rivals, and four games against their interleague opponents
  • Teams will make just one trip to each city it visits. So, for instance, the Mariners could play 10 games against the Angels with a five-game series being played in each city
  • 10 teams will make the playoff, the playoffs will be played as normal

So, for you Mariners fans, we may not know the exact schedule, but we do know who they will play. The Mariners will play 10 games each against the Rangers, Athletics, Angels, and Astros. They will also play four games each against the NL West's Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rockies. 

When teams return to play, the schedule won't be the only difference. There will also be some rule changes and dates to watch:

  • NL teams can now use a Designated Hitter
  • If games go to extra innings, the innings will start with a runner on second base
  • Active rosters will be at 30 for the first two weeks, 28 for the second two weeks, and reduced to 26 players in week five
  • The trade deadline will be August 31st 
  • Players must be with an organization by September 15th to be playoff eligible

The shortest baseball season since 1878 looks to be a fun one. 

Keanon Lowe steps down at West Linn, joins Chip Kelly at UCLA

Keanon Lowe steps down at West Linn, joins Chip Kelly at UCLA

Five months after finding its head coach of the future, West Linn High School will once again have to start a coaching search. 

Former Oregon Ducks wide receiver Keanon Lowe, who accepted the West Linn job back in January, has stepped down from the position. 

Lowe made the announcement in a letter to the West Linn community on Tuesday. 

Dear West Linn Community,

I would like to thank you for the support and enthusiasm you have given me as the Head Football Coach these last few months. It is with great difficulty that I must inform you that I will be stepping down as the Head Football Coach at West Linn High School. I have been presented with an opportunity to coach at the collegiate level and after much thought and discussion with my family, have decided to accept this position. With the outbreak of Covid-19 and the uncertainty this has caused all of us, this was a career move I could not pass up. Over the course of the last few months, I have enjoyed getting to know your kids. I was very much excited and looking forward to working with your kids this football season and it is unfortunate that we were not able to begin our football program as I had intended to. I have spoken to Principal Neuman directly and he has informed me they will be starting a thoughtful and timely process that will be led by new Athletic Director Brigham Baker to find the next leader of the West Linn Football program. I will continue to be a resource, advocate, and contact for your kids moving forward. I truly believe West Linn Football has a bright future and I look forward to seeing you and your sons in the recruiting process down the road.

Best, Keanon Lowe

According to the Oregonian, Lowe will be leaving to take an unspecified college football job. 

Lowe spent four seasons at Oregon, where he had 68 catches for 891 yards and 11 touchdowns.

After leaving Oregon, Lowe spent time in the NFL coaching under Chip Kelly before transitioning to the high school game. 

Most recently, Lowe was responsible for turning the Parkrose football program around. Lowe went 12-8 over two seasons at Parkrose, leading the Broncos to their first winning season in 23 years, as well as the first playoff victory in school history.

However, Lowe will always be remembered for what he did inside the hallways of the school on March 17, 2019.

It was on that day that Lowe made national news when he tackled and stopped a gunman inside the school, preventing a school shooting. 

Lowe will forever be an Oregon legend.

It is unknown at this time what college program Lowe will be coaching at, as he is waiting for the school to make the news official before he comments any further. 

UPDATE:

According to Adam Bjaranson of KOIN 6, Lowe is heading to UCLA to once again coach under Chip Kelly.

Ken Griffey Jr. had a very special reason for iconic backwards cap

Ken Griffey Jr. had a very special reason for iconic backwards cap

Ken Griffey Jr. is a Seattle sports icon. 

He's arguably the greatest five-tool player to ever hit the diamond and claims ownership to the sweetest swing in the history of baseball. 

"The Kid"  also created an iconic sports look with his iconic backwards cap. 

https://youtu.be/yv4ASTL9zO4?t=33

In the 90s, millions of kids started to wear their caps backwards just to be like Junior. 

But Junior wasn't trying to be some rebellious trendsetter. Rather, like fans were trying to be like him, he was just trying to be like his hero: His dad. 

Griffey told the story in the latest episode of the Sports Business Radio Podcast:

I wear my hat backwards because my dad had a 'fro and I wanted to wear his hat. If I put his hat on at age six, and he's got an eight and a half (hat size) and I got like a little five, it's not really gonna stay on my head. So I just turned it around because I just wanted to wear my dad's hat.  - Ken Griffey Jr. on his iconic look

"It wasn't like I was trying to be different," said Griffey. "I just wanted to wear my dad's hat. Even now, when I put on my hat, I put it on backwards."

We have all been in Griffey's shoes, or hat in this case, trying to emulate our parents, grandparents, or family members. Trying to be just like the people we look up to. 

But unlike Griffey, not all of us made a brand in the process. 

Griffey became the backwards cap. It was his defining look. A look that he continues to rock to this day.

You talk about being defiant. I belong to a country club here, and I got a letter in the mail that says... 'Keep Forward,' meaning you bill facing forward. So I built hats and it said 'Keep Forward' on the back of it so when I turned it around it said 'Keep Forward.' And I wore it. That's who I am. You're not gonna let me wear my hat backwards? It's not like I'm a slob. It's not like my shirt is untucked. This is who I am." - Griffey on his backwards cap

As Griffey said, the backwards cap is "who I am." But who is Griffey, really? Even at age 50, he is still just a six-year-old kid trying to be like his dad. 
 

Be sure to check out Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football