Lindsey Wisniewski

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard shuts down Shannon Sharpe’s contract criticism

Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard shuts down Shannon Sharpe’s contract criticism

FS1’s Shannon Sharpe thinks Damian Lillard shouldn’t have stayed in Portland.

On the “Undisputed” this week, Sharpe was overly critical of the All-Star guard’s four-year, $196 million supermax contract, saying Lillard will be quickly forgotten if he doesn’t win a championship.

“When’s the last time Dame Lillard took less than the max?” Sharpe said. “So, what Dame Lillard is gonna be is a guy that’s probably gonna make $400 million with no titles.”

He continued: “He’s gonna be one of the richest players in NBA history with zero titles,” Sharpe said. “Nobody remembers the guy who made a bunch of money playing sports, only if you won titles Dame. And if you don’t believe me, ask Kevin Garnett. At the end of the day, if you play a sport, it’s all about titles.”

Lillard caught wind of Sharpe’s criticism of his contract and fired back with this response.

At 28, Lillard still has plenty of time to win a championship with the Trail Blazers, but he has been consistent in his message: he’d rather be a good teammate and person than a ring chaser.

This offseason, Portland added key pieces like Hassan Whiteside and Kent Bazemore to aid Lillard and the Trail Blazers in their journey for an NBA championship. 

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson would be restricted to 16 games if 18-game schedule were to pass

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Seahawks QB Russell Wilson would be restricted to 16 games if 18-game schedule were to pass

The idea of an 18-game NFL season is nothing new, but a recent proposal owners have suggested could change the game as we know it.

Per Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal, the new proposal would not only give owners an 18-game schedule, which would essentially raise their revenue by around $2.5 million, but players would be limited to play in 16 of those games.

If the owner’s proposal did become a reality, the Seattle Seahawks would not only face an 18-game season, but also have to play two games without Pro Bowl quarterback Russell Wilson on the field.

Owners began pushing for a lengthened season in 2011, which resulted in an offseason lockout. However, the 16-game per-player limit is part of a re-upped push by the owners to once again find a compromise with the NFL Players Association, who has been resistant to such change considering the dangerous effects it could have on its players.

Such a drastic change to the NFL schedule would not only impact the players, but also the game strategy and the way team’s shape their rosters.

The current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire following the 2020 NFL season, in March 2021. 

Portland Thorns, Reign FC players celebrate World Cup win at Parade of Champions

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Portland Thorns, Reign FC players celebrate World Cup win at Parade of Champions

The U.S. women’s soccer team won its fourth-consecutive World Cup title with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands on July 7. Just days later, a party that began in Lyon, France continued 3,817 miles away in the streets of New York City.

Before the Parade of Champions began on Wednesday, USWNT and Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe took the stage at City Hall to deliver a poignant speech in front of thousands cladded in red, white and blue with "equal pay" signs. 

“This is my charge to everyone: We have to be better, we have to love more and hate less,” Rapinoe said. “Listen more and talk less. It is our responsibility to make this world a better place.”

Here’s a look at the USWNT co-captain’s memorable moment:

Following Rapinoe’s speech, the World Cup champs sipped champagne, erupted in dance moves and hopped on floats during the ticker-tape parade in their honor.

Here’s a look at some of the best videos and photos from the parade, including some celebratory posts from members of the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign FC, and of course, another tea-sipping celebration from Alex Morgan. 

[RELATED: The U.S. women’s soccer team is one step closer to their ultimate goal: Equal pay]

The U.S. women’s soccer team is one step closer to their ultimate goal: Equal pay

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The U.S. women’s soccer team is one step closer to their ultimate goal: Equal pay

Soccer fans from across the country lined the streets of New York City to celebrate the U.S. women’s soccer team’s World Cup Victory over the Netherlands. Thousands cheered, some shed tears. But one familiar chant was heard throughout the crowd on Wednesday:

“Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay.”

They were the same chants that rung out through the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon following the team’s fourth World Cup victory, and won’t likely retire anytime soon.

The U.S. women’s soccer team has been outspoken about its demands of equal pay. 28 players on the women’s national team, which includes Portland Thorns players Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnett and Adrianna Franch, sued the United States Soccer Federation in March, alleging they were paid less than their male counterparts even though they win more games and bring in more money.

The women will get bonuses from the USSF that are roughly five times less than the men would have earned for winning the World Cup.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo agrees it's time that the women be paid equally. Just moments before the team was honored in the Canyon of Heroes, Cuomo signed legislation that would eliminate a loophole that allows gender discrimination in pay for men and women’s the same jobs.

“They play the same game on the same field and by the way they it much better,” Cuomo said. “They are much more successful than the men. There is no rational reason based in economics that they are paid less.”

Around the same time, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democratic presidential candidate, appeared on CNN to share that he would sign an executive order to guarantee equal pay for male and female athletes. He added that he would require Congress to pass an amendment to the Amateur Sports Act, and in the event of that failing, he would sign an executive order which forces the U.S. Soccer Federation to pay up.

One resolution seems easy at this point: Pay the U.S. women what the U.S. men make. Until then, the USWNT's biggest battle off the field carries on. 

Trail Blazers have seventh-best chance in West to make 2019-20 NBA playoffs

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Trail Blazers have seventh-best chance in West to make 2019-20 NBA playoffs

After making it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years, the Portland Trail Blazers path to the playoffs won’t be any easier this season.

Entering the 2019-2020 NBA season, the Trail Blazers are -335 to make the playoffs and +260 at missing the playoffs this upcoming season. Based on these odds, the Blazers have the seventh-best chance in the Western Conference at making it to the postseason.

The West got even better in free agency. The Clippers made a big push to add Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in free agency, while the Lakers landed All-Star Anthony Davis along with a stockpiled roster that includes DeMarcus Cousins and Danny Green.

Utah added Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in effort to make strides in the West and the Warriors acquired All-Star guard DeAngelo Russell as Kevin Durant departed for Brooklyn.

Like many teams in the West, Portland shuffled its roster with some unexpected moves. Evan Turner was traded to Atlanta for Kent Bazemore, Rodney Hood re-signed for two years, Meyers Leonard and Moe Harkless were sent to the Heat and Clippers for Hassan Whiteside, and Mario Hezonja agreed to a two-year deal.

[RELATED: Free Agent Roundup: All the latest news from the Trail Blazers]

Despite what the betting odds may say, the Trail Blazers have proved the betters wrong before. The Blazers finished third in the West the past two seasons, won the Northwest Division in 2017, and after a deep postseason last year, the future is looking bright for Portland.

New Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside gives out Voodoo doughnuts to Portland’s homeless

New Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside gives out Voodoo doughnuts to Portland’s homeless

Hassan Whiteside has only been a member of the Portland Trail Blazers for a few days, but the stand out center is already giving back to his new community.

In a series of videos shared on Instagram, Whiteside can be seen giving out doughnuts to people on the streets and shouting “Go Portland, Go Blazers! We got shooters!”

"You get some Voodoo Doughnuts. I got like three dozen," Whiteside said. "Giving them out to the city! We giving them out to the city, man. We sharing love, man. More love, man. We don't do the hate, my man. Less hate, man."

Whiteside was traded to Portland in a four-team deal that sent Maurice Harkless to the Clippers and Meyers Leonard to the Heat. Whiteside’s reputation in Miami wasn’t its best, as he was known a tough player for coaches to deal with, but it looks like he's starting out on the right foot in Rip City. 

[RELATED: Lillard believes Whiteside won't be a worry in locker room]

Seattle Seahawks Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin share how 'inseparable' bond led them to NFL

Seattle Seahawks Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin share how 'inseparable' bond led them to NFL

The bond between Shaquill and Shaquem Griffin is undeniable.

The identical twin brothers went from standouts at UCF to teammates on the Seattle Seahawks, but that’s not even half of their story. The Griffins have been an inspiration to many, and now they are sharing their life experiences in their book, Inseparable: How Family and Sacrifice Forged a Path to the NFL.

“What motivated us was, first off, the way we were raised, in a household that was based off of family, faith, love, caring, and if you’ve got a story to tell, tell it," Shaquill told Craig Melvin of the TODAY show. "Just going off the situation that he went through [Shaquem] and that we’ve both been through and to overcome it, we always wanted to relate to everybody and get a chance to give back and kind of share and be able to relate to others.”

Shaquem Griffin became the first one-handed player drafted in the modern era of the NFL. The Seahawks fifth-round pick in 2018 lost his hand when he was just four years old due to amniotic band syndrome, a condition that caused amniotic bands to wrap around Griffin’s left wrist, preventing his hand from developing normally.

Despite growing up with one-hand, Griffin said his family never treated him any different.

“It created grit for me to know that I can do anything I put my mind to and having my parents and my brother's there pushing me along every step of the way and not allowing me to create an excuse for myself, allowing me to be that competitor that I am today,” Shaquem Griffin said. “They taught me so much. My brother was right beside me every step of the way. Me and him going back and forth competing and everything we doing. And without my parents being there to say there’s no excuse, no limits for me, I wouldn’t be here today.”

While the Griffin brothers’ book focuses on aspiring others, it also shares the stories of other limb-different individuals who have overcome adversity as well.

“Me growing up, I didn’t see it much," Shaquem said of his experience with limb-different youth. "Now that I have the opportunity, now that I have this platform, I’m able to use it and share it with my brother, be able to see so many different kids and so many different people come out that’s lived their lives, lived their best life and be able to accomplish their goals and their life dreams. When you’re able to see that and see more of it, that means you’re doing something right.”

“We want to be able to use our platform in the right way to motivate others to be the best you.”

The Griffins book releases tomorrow, July 9 and is currently available for preorder on Amazon.

Poised and polished: Zach Collins ready to play key role with Trail Blazers 

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Poised and polished: Zach Collins ready to play key role with Trail Blazers 

Home sweet home. Trail Blazers forward-center Zach Collins is back in his hometown of Las Vegas to watch his teammates as they look to defend their title at NBA Summer League. 

This year is a little different for the former first-round pick. Unlike previous seasons where Collins took the court with the Summer League squad, this year, you can find the 7-footer sitting in the stands, cheering on his Trail Blazers, and focused on preparing for his third NBA season after his team’s first Western Conference finals appearance in 19 years. 

“Experience is the best teacher,” Collins told Jared Greenberg of NBATV. “Getting to the third round of the playoffs in my second year and obviously playing good minutes for a great team, its only going to propel my improvement that much more.”

He added: “I would say the biggest thing I learned is just to be consistent. I mean during the regular season it’s hard enough, but in the playoffs you have no choice but to be on top of your game every night, and if you’re not, you’re going to be on the bench.”

Over free agency this offseason, Enes Kanter left for Boston, and in a trade with Miami, longtime Trail Blazer, Meyers Leonard, was sent to the Heat in exchange for Hassan Whiteside. 

Collins, who played the bulk of his minutes alongside Leonard, said he will miss his teammate and friend. 

“I think the organization is going to miss him because he’s obviously a great player, but he’s a really good dude and all of us, teammates, coaches, trainers, we all love to be around him,” Collins said. “But obviously we know he’s going to do great things in Miami.” 

Portland will likely lean on Collins, who played just 17.6 minutes per game in 2018, to take on an increased workload until Jusuf Nurkic gets back to full health.

While the 21-year-old is poised for a larger role with the Trail Blazers this season, Collins says his approach to the upcoming NBA season remains the same. 

“Just how I approach every offseason,“ Collins said. “Just go in, get my body right, get it in as good as shape as I possibly can and make sure my skills are polished for the season to go out there and do well with whatever role I have next year, regardless of what that is, I’m gonna go out and I’m gonna play.”

Nassir Little’s goals for Trail Blazers at Summer League: Just win

Nassir Little’s goals for Trail Blazers at Summer League: Just win

It’s been 15 days since Nassir Little stepped on the stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York as the Portland Trail Blazers selected him with the No. 25 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Now, officially a Trail Blazer and member of the team's Las Vegas Summer League roster, Little says his excitement is soaring. 

“It’s as high as ever,” Little said. “I’m excited to play my first Summer League game and then transition into the regular season.”

The 6-foot-6 small forward will have the opportunity to showcase his skills in Sin City beginning Saturday, when the Trail Blazers take on the Detroit Pistons at 12:30 p.m. While shooting and ball handling top his list of things to improve in his first year, Little’s personal goals at Summer League are clear cut. 

“To win,” Little said. “I think with winning comes individual success so if I have that at the forefront of my personal goals, I think everything will take care of itself.”

With the Trail Blazers recent moves in free agency, Little knows Summer League will also afford him the opportunity to show he’s ready to compete.

“The opportunity is definitely there,” Little said. “Now it’s up to me to kind of showcase what I got, make the most out of it.”

Portland will look to defend its Summer League championship starting this weekend. While this year’s team will have some familiar faces, including Gary Trent Jr., and Anfernee Simons, Little is approaching the tournament with a win-or-go-home mentality.

“I’m a winner, man,” Little said. “I try to win everything. No matter what it is so I’m going to go out there and do whatever I can.”

[RELATED: Get to know the Blazers Summer League roster]

Jaylen Hoard ready to pour his heart out with Trail Blazers

Jaylen Hoard ready to pour his heart out with Trail Blazers

Jaylen Hoard may have went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, but a call one day later from his agent proved he made a strong impression in Rip City.

Hoard, a 20-year-old forward out of Wake Forest, officially signed a two-way contract with the Portland Trail Blazers earlier this week, after participating in a pre-draft workout with the team in mid June.

“When I got the news after draft night, I was really excited. I’m glad to be back,” Hoard said. “The coaching staff, I’m glad that they gave me a chance and I’m ready to pour my heart out, play my hardest for this franchise.”

In one year at Wake Forest, Hoard averaged 13.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.5 assists in 31 games during his freshman campaign. The 6-foot-8, 215-pounder also impressed at the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit, dropping 11 points, 15 rebounds and two assists for the World Select Team.

Hoard’s strengths include his physicality and athleticism, as well as his versatility to play the 3 and the 4. What Hoard lacks is three-point shooting—he shot just 22.6 from the floor last season.

[RELATED: Jaylen Hoard brings versatility to the table]

While Hoard’s future on the perimeter is no guarantee, the French national player knows there’s many things he can do to help his teammates win.

“I can do a lot on the court,” Hoard said. “I feel like I’m able to space the floor. I’ve been working on my three a lot. I was shooting it around at practice today, and just guard my guy. I feel like those are the main things I can do coming in.”

Hoard will make his debut as a Trail Blazer at NBA Summer League this weekend. His expectations for his first game in a Blazers uniform? 

“Just come out, play well, win a championship, just play with my teammates, get a feel for an NBA game.”