DB Steven Nelson ready for new challenges with Pittsburgh Steelers

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USA Today

DB Steven Nelson ready for new challenges with Pittsburgh Steelers

Former Oregon State defensive back Steven Nelson just got paid, big time, by the Pittsburgh Steelers after spending the first four years of his career with Kansas City. 

Nelsen signed a three-year, $25.5 million deal with the Steelers last week to provide a stabilizing force opposite cornerback Joe Haden. 

"It's been amazing, it's been awesome," Nelson told reporters after signing with Pittsburgh. "It's been kinda sporadic if you would say. A lot of phone calls, a lot of happy people, a lot of emotions. It's been all over the place, but I'm happy to be here with you guys."

The Chiefs drafted Nelsen in the third round of the 2015 draft. He made 38 starts for Kansas City including 16 last year when he intercepted a career-high four passes. 

Nelson recounted how he had visited Pittsburgh during the predraft process in 2015 and felt that the Steelers liked him enough to draft him but it just didn't fall that way. He pointed to his "toughness and relentlessness," as traits he believes the Steelers see in him.

Playing opposite of Haden, Nelson will likely see a lot of balls thrown his way, a reality he said he would embrace. 

"Absolutely," he said. "That means more opportunities for me, so I love that challenge."

How to watch: Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets 2009 Christmas Day Game

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Getty Images

How to watch: Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets 2009 Christmas Day Game

This Trail Blazers Classic Game was an instant classic for both Brandon Roy and Carmelo Anthony.

It was a battle between the two that not many will ever forget.

And now we are celebrating Christmas in May!

Yes, Merry Christmas to Rip City!

Tonight at 6:30pm on NBCSNW, re-watch the Christmas Day Game of 2009 when Brandon Roy dropped 41 points in the Trail Blazers 107-96 victory over the Denver Nuggets.

The B-Roy vs. Melo showdown was pretty special in front of the sold out Rose Garden crowd.

It’s even more special to Trail Blazers fans now that Anthony is a Trail Blazer.

Roy’s 41 points was a franchise Christmas record. The Trail Blazers guard learned from his Christmas Day game experience the year before when he went 8-for-20 from the field in a 102-94 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks.

The 2009 Christmas game gave Rip City hope when all seemed lost with Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez’s injuries. Unfortunately, injuries continued to pile up for the Blazers, but on Dec. 25, 2009 this was an extremely enjoyable Christmas gift in Portland.

Melo finished with 32 points for the Nuggets. At that point of the season, he was the NBA’s leading scorer, averaging 30.3 points per game.

In the win, Steve Blake added 17 points with 14 of those points coming in the fourth quarter.

Here’s just a little taste of what you will see tonight at 6:30pm:

The Trail Blazers hold a 14-4 overall record for Christmas Day games. Their last Christmas battle came in 2018 when they fell to the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, 117-96.

Starters for 2009 Christmas Day Game:

DENVER

Kenyon Martin

Carmelo Anthony

Nene

Chauncey Billups

Arron Afflalo

PORTLAND

LaMarcus Aldridge

Brandon Roy

Andre Miller

Martell Webster

HOW TO WATCH: Trail Blazer vs. Nuggets from Dec. 25, 2009

WHEN: Tuesday, May 26 at 6:30pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here.  

Or stream the game on your phone with the 'MyTeams' App -- available in the App Store for iPhones and on Google play. 

Damian Lillard is sending a message to the NBA -- give us a shot at playoffs

Damian Lillard is sending a message to the NBA -- give us a shot at playoffs

It is not unexpected that Damian Lillard says he won’t participate if the Trail Blazers are brought back this summer by the NBA to play just a few games without any chance of earning a playoff berth.

I would not expect one of the game’s great competitors to be involved in such a situation. With nothing to play for, why play? Especially after such a long layoff? These would be exhibition games -- and you know how much playing time stars get in exhibition games.

But, of course, even by saying this, I think Lillard plants a seed with the league that they better give the borderline teams a chance for a playoff berth -- either by playing out the full schedule or (more likely) using a play-in tournament.

And I think this may have been Lillard’s motivation for going public with this statement. He wants his team to have a shot at a playoff berth and this may help the cause.

I would expect other talented players to follow Lillard’s lead, by the way. And this isn’t going to be much of a television product without the NBA’s best players taking part.

I would expect, by saying this, Lillard will move the needle toward the most likely course -- play enough “regular season” games to get all teams to 70 total contests, satisfying local television contracts, then go to some sort of mini-tournament.

I do not think all teams will be involved in that. Use common sense and invite the teams that are realistically close to earning a berth and leave the bottom-feeders out. Seed them using the current standings and let them go at it.

The most likely plan would probably be to get Western Conference hopefuls Portland, New Orleans, Sacramento, San Antonio and Memphis together -- perhaps giving the Grizzlies (since they hold the No. 8 spot) a chance to sit out and play the winner of a four-team mini-tourney for that final spot. Maybe make that series vs. Memphis a best-of-three.

Win or go home in the four-teamer. Sudden death.

It would be wild. And fun.

Damian Lillard won't play if Trail Blazers have no shot to make playoffs

Damian Lillard won't play if Trail Blazers have no shot to make playoffs

With the NBA beginning to make headways to resume its season, there is a big collective voice in the room that needs to be considered when making those final decisions: The players.

According to NBC Sports' Pro Basketball Talk, the NBPA is reaching out to players and receiving feedback on particular scenarios for return.

Player safety should and will be at the forefront of all these discussions to bring the NBA back. One of those players has taken his stance with this entire situation that has still yet to be concrete, and that’s Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard.

On Tuesday morning in an interview with Chris Haynes, NBA Insider for Yahoo Sports, Lillard said he would not play in games under certain circumstances.

If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating. I'm telling you that right now. And you can put that [expletive] in there. — Damian Lillard

There are numerous options floating around how to return the NBA season and what that will look like. A play-in tournament for the playoffs? Go right into the playoffs with the top-8 seeds before the NBA season was suspended? 

In more recent news, conversations have begun to take shape of having the the NBA resume in late July at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

When the NBA season suspended on March 14, the Blazers (29-37) were currently in the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings sitting 3.5 games behind the eight seed Memphis Grizzlies.

Make no mistake, if the league decides to give those teams with a fighting chance to play and earn a playoff spot, Lillard will bring it.

If we come back and I don't have an opportunity to make the playoffs, I will show up to work, I'll be at practice and I'll be with my team. I'm going to do all that [expletive] and then I'm going to be sitting right on that bench during the games. If they come back and say it's something like a tournament, play-in style, between the No. 7 and No. 12 seeds, if we're playing for playoff spots, then I think that's perfect. — Damian Lillard

More from our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes to come.

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

NWSL to allow small group training, full team training next phase

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Portland Thorns

NWSL to allow small group training, full team training next phase

The National Women’s Soccer League announced Monday that all clubs may advance to Phase Two.

So, what does that mean?

In short, small group training of eight players or less is permissible under guidelines outlined by the NWSL Medical Task Force (MTF) in the league’s “Return to Play Phased Protocol”, which is subject to state and local governmental requirements.

Furthermore, prior to entering a facility, all players must complete a Pre-Training Assessment (PTA) and have a daily symptom and temperature screening.

Clubs will be permitted to use weight rooms, training rooms and meeting rooms.

Additionally, essential staff authorized in Phase 2 include coaches, athletic trainers, sports scientists, team physicians and equipment managers. All players and staff members are required to take both an Antigen polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and an Antibody (IgG) test prior to being present at any group trainings.

Players will be required to arrive in their training gear and wear masks when arriving and departing the facility. Shared water bottles will not be permitted.

A thorough cleaning will be completed after each groups’ use of the facilities.

"Following the advice and counsel of our medical advisors, the NWSL is pleased to be taking the next steps to safely return to competition," said NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird.

The next hurdle will come on May 30th when teams may progress to Phase Three. 

Full Team Training will be allowed in Phase Three provided that five days of Small Group Training have been completed and that teams remain in compliance with state, local and NWSL mandates. 

Here are the guidelines that apply:

  • All activity must follow state and local government and health agency mandates
  • Each team must have approval from their medical staff to advance to the next phase
  • Teams must limit staff to the essential personnel necessary to conduct each phase of training and competition
  • Players will undergo a daily symptom screening prior to entering team facilities
  • Players who are fulfilling self-quarantine for any reason are not permitted to train with other individuals or at team facilities
  • Players, coaches and staff who are sick or have close contact with individuals who are sick must inform the team’s Certified Athletic Trainer, stay home, and not participate in training
  • All individuals should practice good hand hygiene, and avoid touching their face, nose and eyes with their hands as much as possible
  • All facilities and rooms used are subject to NWSL Standards for Cleaning, Disinfection, and Sanitation
  • All facility staff, housekeeping and grounds crew will be scheduled to avoid contact with players and essential staff

This is a step in the right direction with hopes that teams can get back to some semblance of normalcy. 

Former Oregon State Beaver Mikayla Pivec will sit out the 2020 WNBA season

Former Oregon State Beaver Mikayla Pivec will sit out the 2020 WNBA season

Former Oregon State guard Mikayla Pivec, who was set to enter her WNBA rookie season, has decided to sit out of the 2020 season.

The Atlanta Dream made the announcement on their Twitter page Monday, saying Pivec will not play in the 2020 season due to personal reasons, adding she ‘will be suspended by the Atlanta Dream.’ The Dream’s PR tweet did say the team would welcome Pivec back next season.

Oregon State's all-time leading rebounder and the shortest player in Pac-12 history to haul in 1,000 rebounds was selected by the Atlanta Dream as the 25th overall pick in the 3rd round of this year’s draft.

[RELATED]: Everything Mikayla Pivec does moves the needle

During her senior year, Pivec averaged 14.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

The 5-10 guard was focused on enjoying the process and controlling what she can control just days before the WNBA Draft as she explained in April's Talkin’ Beavers Podcast.

You try not to worry too much about where you go or what's going to happen. Just know that hopefully God will steer me to the right place, and He will. Enjoy this moment and take it all in and spend time with family... Embrace the journey. -- Mikayla Pivec said ahead of the WNBA Draft in April

The 2020 WNBA season remains paused because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

CJ McCollum almost quit basketball, thank goodness his mom stepped in

CJ McCollum almost quit basketball, thank goodness his mom stepped in

Imagine a world where CJ McCollum didn’t become a Portland Trail Blazer.

Now imagine, McCollum wasn’t even drafted in the NBA because, as a youngster, he was ready to give up on his "ball is life" mentality.

That nearly transpired. 

During the NBA hiatus, Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam has been able to catch up with a handful of players. This past week, Olzendam sat down with McCollum over video chat.

In his seventh year in the league, McCollum is grateful for his mom and dad’s continued support.   

“My parents have done a tremendous job, over the course of my career,” McCollum said. “They try to make every game and I think my rookie year, my mom made every game… They’ve been really consistent and it’s all you can ask for as a kid.”

The now 28-year-old is just like all of us. 

He had doubts growing up.

Was he on the right path?

Should he stick with basketball?

These types of questions entered McCollum’s mind.

It’s crazy, I almost quit basketball when I was younger. Just all those things that I’ve gone through from a sports standpoint to having confidence -- [my parents] had confidence in me, the faith in me before I really had it in myself. So, I’m forever grateful and thankful. And I always tell them, you know, ‘I’ll try to repay you the best I can, but you gave me the gift of life, so there’s nothing much I can do.’ -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum  

From the sounds of it, McCollum wasn’t about to turn to football over basketball. He joked on his Twitter page, “I only wanted to play qb. Wasn’t going across the middle for anybody."

Basketball was his sport, but it took a big nudge, or a firm talking to from a special someone for him to not give up on his dream.

I was young. This wasn’t going well for me. It was like a turning point in my life where I had to make a decision. You know, how much are you going to dedicate yourself to this? And if you’re not, plan B, like -- I gotta get a 4.0 because [my parents] told me they weren’t paying for my school early on. So, I had to figure out a way to kind of delegate my time. I was working out and I wasn’t really performing the way I wanted to so I kind of had to figure out, okay, ‘what are you really going to do?’ And my mom was like, ‘you’re not a quitter, I didn’t raise no quitters...’ And the rest is history. -- CJ McCollum told Brooke Olzendam

McCollum also admitted that he’s not completely sure if he would’ve really pulled the trigger and quit basketball, even if his mom had not stepped in to help him stay on track.

Before the NBA was forced to suspend the 2019-20 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, McCollum was averaging 22.5 points, 4.1 rebounds, and tying a career best in assists with 4.3. The last time he averaged that many dimes was during the 2015-16 season. Last season he averaged 3.0.

You can watch the entire CJ McCollum interview RIGHT HERE

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Would Carmelo Anthony ever reunite with the Denver Nuggets?

Would Carmelo Anthony ever reunite with the Denver Nuggets?

Dec. 12, 2019 -- The day future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony stepped back on the Pepsi Center floor in front of his first-ever NBA home crowd.  

A day he feared would never happen.

But, thanks to the Trail Blazers, it did happen.

The Blazers lost to the Nuggets 114-99; however, the game itself was never really a storyline that day.

It was about a reunion after a year of not playing.


Denver improved to 15-8 after the win.

This was a game that Anthony had thought might never happen, in fact, just recently during the NBA hiatus, the Trail Blazers veteran opened up, admitting that he felt like he "hit rock bottom" when his career was in limbo and he was searching for a team to give him another shot.

In his first time back to Denver since he returned from his one-year hiatus, the question on everyone's mind was how would he be received...

We got the answer.

Nuggets fans had buried the hatchet.

Anthony played for Denver for 7 1/2 years before being traded to New York.

Melo's time in Denver eventually soured when speculation began in the 2010–11 season that he wanted out of Denver. It led to some tumultuous times before the trade to the Knicks eventually occurred in February of 2011. 

But, that day on Dec. 12, 2019, there were no grudges.

And, just as the Nuggets fans showed Melo love, the Denver media showed up in droves wanting to hear from the player they used to cover.

Prior to the Blazers taking on the Nuggets, Melo told reporters that if there would've been a chance for him to reunite with the Nuggets, he was “open to it.”

We talked about it. People in my circle were like, ‘Go back to Denver.’ If it was that easy I probably would’ve done it. A lot of things came into play when it comes to that, kind of out of my control at that time, the timing was off. Similar to Portland, the timing has always just been off. All of the sudden that window of opportunity was there [in Portland]. -- Carmelo Anthony

Denver was Anthony’s third-consecutive game against one of his former teams over that week span in early December. Portland lost to Oklahoma City earlier in the week before beating New York and then making their way to Denver.

During that morning’s shootaround at the Pepsi Center, the 2013 NBA scoring champ, spoke highly of his time in the Mile High City.

“I don’t think I can ever stop appreciating not just the organization but the city as a whole. We were at a point in time where it was a shift, the team had just only won 17 games prior to when we came in. We kind of started or created a different culture here. The uniforms changed, we changed the colors of the uniform, the vibe in Denver was different, the aura in the city, the energy was different. We were a part of that change.”

The Melo Effect was quickly visible after he was selected third overall in the 2003 NBA draft.

The Nuggets improved their win total by twenty-six games in Anthony's rookie season. They had a winning record, they made the playoffs. Melo averaged 2.1 points and 6.1 rebounds, he was the clear reason for their turnaround.

And now there’s just one thing missing in Denver, at least according to Anthony:

The No. 15 hanging from the rafters.

The former Nuggets forward believes it would be fitting to have his number retired in Denver.

This is where it should be retired to be honest with you, just my opinion… I think that the history is here, it’s where it all started. -- Carmelo Anthony after the Dec. 12 game.

Denver has not made such arrangements. Nuggets All-Star center Nikola Jokic currently wears No. 15.

Melo joked that could be a problem.  

“Maybe not because Jokic got 15 now. We’ll see, man. We still got time,” Melo laughed.

Yes, the Nuggets still have time for a man who gave them his heart and soul for seven-and-a-half years.

Anthony played and started in 80 games during the 2005–06 season with the Nuggets, averaging 26.5 points (eighth, NBA), 2.7 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.

That season CLUTCH MELO became a thing.

The year, Anthony made five game-winning shots in the last five seconds:

  • At Houston on January 8,
  • At home vs. Phoenix on January 10 
  • At Minnesota on February 24
  • At Indiana on March 15
  • At home versus the Los Angeles Lakers on April 6

The Blazers know about his game-winning buckets, sorry about your bad luck this season, Toronto.

But, for all the regular season success Anthony had with Denver, there wasn’t much in the way of postseason success. He holds an overall record of 17-38 in playoff games and 10 of his wins came during the Nuggets 2009 run to the Western Conference Finals before falling to the Lakers.

Really, though, who could blame Melo for wanting out of Denver? He hadn’t reached his goal of winning it all after being on the Mile High City for over seven years.

It took just one year in college.  

During the 2002–03 season, Melo’s freshmen year, he averaged 22.2 points and guided the Orange to their first-ever NCAA tournament title. 

He had said he was planning to play for Syracuse for a couple of more years before the season started, but after accomplishing his goal of winning a championship he knew he could move on.

The quest for an NBA championship continues now with Damian Lillard and Co.    

Because it sure doesn't seem like Melo is ready to move on.

(By the way, Tuesday’s Trail Blazers Classic Game features Carmelo Anthony vs. Brandon Roy in the epic 2009 Christmas Day battle between the Blazers and Nuggets. Check it out at 6:30pm on NBCSNW.) 

Be sure to check out the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with host NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Russell Wilson donates 300k meals after trio of great tee shots during "The Match"

Russell Wilson donates 300k meals after trio of great tee shots during "The Match"

Russell Wilson may have been trolling Tom Brady before Sunday’s teeing off of “The Match,” but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t rooting for him to do well. 

“The Match,” a golf competition that featured Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, was filled with great shots, ribbing and good causes. 

As the player approached the 16th hole, the Seahawks QB joined the broadcast and pledged 100,000 meals to Feeding America for each of the players’ tee shot within 12 feet of that hole.  

Here’s the results:  

That’s right, every player but Tiger got within 12 feet of the cup, which means 300,000 meals will be donated to Feed America!

Wilson and his wife Ciara are known for their philanthropy. 

They’ve already donated over one million meals to Feed America. 

Wilson and Ciara also auctioned off an evening with them for the All-In Challenge that fetched $240,000.

During a time of need, the Wilson’s are stepping up in a big way.  

Tiger Woods was solid, Peyton Manning was good and Tom Brady was very revealing

Tiger Woods was solid, Peyton Manning was good and Tom Brady was very revealing

A few thoughts on “The Match: Champions for Charity:”

  • It was a fun event, but would have likely been even more fun if the weather had been better. Still, it was enjoyable to see the pros struggle in the kind of weather Oregonians play golf in quite frequently.

  • Shorts. PGA players look so much more athletic playing in shorts. And they should be allowed to do that on the tour. The idea of competing in an athletic event wearing slacks has always seemed silly to me. Especially in summer’s hottest days.

  • Tiger Woods looked ready. He hit every fairway and was solid in all phases. The Tour’s hiatus seemed to do him a lot of good. I hope he can stay healthy long enough to play in a couple of majors. He is still one of the most compelling athletes in sports.

  • And events like this where you see that social version of Woods, where he laughs a bit and interacts with other players, is fun to watch.

  • Tom Brady was nervous. I get it. Golf obviously isn’t his sport and no athlete, no human, would be wild about embarrassing himself on national television. And then the guy split the back of his pants right there on camera! Nice comeback on the back nine, though.

  • But Tom, on a course with wide fairways, why weren’t you using your driver off the tee?

  • Phil Mickelson had to carry his team and the match would have made sense if he’d had Peyton Manning as his partner, rather than Brady. Phil’s fun, though, and he is going to make a great golf commentator when he’s finished with the Tour.

  • Charles Barkley makes every event more entertaining.

  • Oh man, I'd love to have one of those golf carts they were using. They were sleek, cool and, seemingly, fast. Mickelson and Woods, particularly, seemed to enjoy jetting around in them.

  • Putting a mic on a player makes a telecast better in any sport.

  • It was pretty easy to tell which quarterback has been retired for five years and which one is still playing football. Manning has been playing a lot of golf -- and he’s good.

  • Golf should do more of these types of events. And I do expect at least one more with Phil and Tiger. They have each won one so there’s a rubber match coming sometime. And it will be good. And raising 20 million bucks for charity is pretty nice, too.