Damian Lillard accused of elitism for comments-- here's why they're wrong

Damian Lillard accused of elitism for comments-- here's why they're wrong

Damian Lillard is being criticized in the media for the comments he made earlier in the week about not wanting to come back and play ‘meaningless’ games should the Trail Blazers not have a path to the playoffs when NBA play resumes. 

But, it seems like they’re missing the point. Allow me to explain. 

On Wednesday, ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky called Damian Lillard a ‘spoiled and entitled brat’ for saying he wouldn’t participate. 

FS1's Skip Bayless of  ‘Undisputed’ had a similar take: 

“Damian Lillard suddenly speaks out as if he’s Michael Jordan, or Kobe Bryant or LeBron James— like he’s a superstar. I keep asking myself, when did Dame D.O.L.L.A. become THAT guy to be able to speak out the way he speaks out? What have you done? Show me the credentials whereby you can say ‘I’m above that. That’s beneath me.’ If Damian Lillard came out and said ‘I don’t want to get sick,’ you got me. But, that’s not what he’s talking about. What he’s talking about is ’It’s beneath me. You can’t make me go there and play basketball for nothing.’ It’s not for nothing. You earn a real sweet check. That’s just wrong. You can’t say that publicly. It’s time to do your part and don’t try to knock down the process and pull everybody back down into your ego-maniacal view of ‘I’m Dame D.O.L.L.A.’”

“If Lillard came out and said ‘I don’t want to expose myself or potentially bringing this to my family,’ that’s a different conversation. But, all he’s saying is ‘I don’t want to play because I don’t have a chance to win a championship.’”

Bayless’ co-host Shannon Sharpe piled on, as well.

“Just because you’re a big player in the league and have a platform, that doesn’t mean you should stand up and voice everything.” 

“Some things you just keep to yourself. To say that I’m not going to come out and play in meaningless games. You played 66 meaningful games that you turned into meaningless games by the way your team played. There are no meaningless games. You don’t know how many more of them you’ve got. Treasure every last one of them, Dame.”

What these critics fail to understand is the inferred understanding that players don’t want to expose themselves to the outside world in fear that they’d catch the COVID-19 virus and potentially spread it to their family and close friends. That should be implied, yet these pundits are holding that against Lillard. OF COURSE that’s a concern and should be automatically considered into his thought process. 

Sharpe’s intimation that the Blazers turned 66 meaningful games into meaningless ones is flat out misguided. With season-ending injuries to Rodney Hood (Achilles), Zach Collins (Shoulder) and the long recovery process of Nurkic (Ankle), the Trail Blazers were forced to play short-handed and without consistency to their starting lineup. 

Sharpe also fails to see the bigger picture when telling Lillard to treasure every last game. What if Lillard played with no shot at making the playoffs and suffered a horrific injury? The team’s franchise player, who is set to make $31.6M next season, would be be sidelined for an extended period of time. Lillard is looking more long-term. If the Blazers were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention and this were a normal regular season, chances are people would be just fine with Lillard, who will soon be making supermax money, sitting out a few games that literally mean nothing. It’d likely be questioned if he didn’t sit out. 

Next time a person calls Lillard selfish and a spoiled brat they should look in the mirror. 

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

More good news for the Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. "has picked up right where he left off"

More good news for the Trail Blazers: Gary Trent Jr. "has picked up right where he left off"

Let’s get defensive for a moment.

NBA fans around the globe may only know Gary Trent Jr. for his unique photo shoot on the Blazers' team plane.

Yep, that photo shoot took place in the airplane’s bathroom while the Trail Blazers made their way across the country to enter the Orlando bubble for the 2019-20 restart.

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Long flight 👺🤣✈️

A post shared by G Trent (@gtrentjr) on

Those Trent Jr. pics were priceless. The comments on the photos, and social media posts that followed made headlines.

But, for those NBA fans that don’t know much about Gary Trent Jr. besides the fact that he will pose next to an airplane toilet; he was one of Portland’s up and coming players this season, specifically on the defensive end, before the NBA was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a future hall of famer on the team also helps.

Carmelo Anthony has been a mentor for the second-year player and since Trent Jr. will now be expected to earn some backup minutes at the three spot, he can look to Melo for even more guidance.

But remember, Anthony isn’t worried about if he is playing the three or the four, or if Trent Jr. is playing the two or the three.

To Melo, positions in the NBA are a thing of the past.

The 17-year-old vet highlighted Trent’s work ethic and being coachable above all else during Sunday’s Zoom interview from Orlando.

The positions... they’re just positions in today’s game so you’ve got to be able to play multiple positions. Somebody like Gary, the way he works and how hard he works when he’s on the court, the little things that he do – it’s very beneficial for him and for us as a team. The way he scraps, the way he cuts, the way he moves, the way he defends, the way he wants to learn – I think most important part is his willingness to learn and how to get better, want to know how to get better. – Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony   

It’s the little things that Melo will continue to help Trent Jr. develop during the Blazers’ three-week training camp.

“So that’s kind of where I come in at, just kind of teaching him and helping him understand the lay of the game… When to do something, when not to do something, when to be patient, when to go – those are just small things that he's still young, but those are the things that he’ll start to pick up and he’s doing it as of now,” Melo added.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

In 53 games played this season, the 21 year old Duke standout averaged 7.7 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists in just his second year in the league while averaging 20 minutes per game.

But where his teammates, the Blazers coaching staff, and the Trail Blazers fan base saw the biggest leap was in his defense. In early Feb. of this year, Trent discussed the importance of earning more minutes by focusing on that side of the ball, saying, “When you’re a young player in this league, when you touch the floor you got to be able to defend. Last year they told me to work on my defense and I took that to heart and watched some of my defense with the coaching staff to continue to get better at it.”

There’s no doubt that Trent Jr. is going to continue to be a valuable piece off the bench for the Blazers, especially on the defensive end.

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers describe life in the Orlando Bubble after first practice Saturday

One missing piece that Portland is ecstatic to get back on that end of the court during this restart is Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic, who says ‘everything is so far great’ after Portland’s first two practices in the Orlando bubble.  

After watching Trent Jr. from the bench while rehabbing his broken left leg, Nurkic has noticed a great deal of change in the young Trent Jr.

But one thing that hasn’t changed in Nurk's mind has been Trent Jr.’s work ethic.

Of course, Nurkic also had to get a jab in about the unexpected Trent Jr. photo shoot. 

He works. He works his ass off, aside taking pictures in closets and things… Everything else changed. He understands what it takes to be on the floor, guard, and be ready when your number [is] called. -- Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic on Gary Trent Jr.

Nurkic added that both Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons have worked hard over this past year and have been able to make a difference, saying, “when they got a chance they was ready, especially with all of the injuries we got this year, that’s given them even more minutes and they deserve it.”

With a four-month layoff there is cause for concern with any player that he will need to shake off the rust, particularly with a young player.

But, it doesn’t sound like that's the case with Gary Trent Jr.

At least, Blazers coach Terry Stotts doesn’t believe so.

He has picked up where he left off. We were just talking about that with him before practice. The difference for him as opposed to a year ago, he hit his stride during the season, he’s in terrific shape, defensively is where he made the biggest jump. I think offensively, he was shooting the ball well. He’s not playing as much one-on-one. He moves well without the ball. He knows the sets. So, I think it was obvious to everybody this year the jump that he made from his rookie year to the next year… But yeah, he’s picked up right where he left off.  -- Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers return to play schedule in Orlando released

One thing Trent Jr. showed us all this season was he's not afraid to sacrifice his body to scramble for a ball on the floor or if the ball was going out of bounds, he was there. And more often than not, he found himself sprawled out on the court.

Sacrificing his body is something Trent Jr. knows how to do very well.

Take, Trent Jr. 's flu game in Oklahoma City back on Jan. 18 for instance, his teammates described him as flushed in the face and barely having any energy to lift his head during that morning’s team meeting.  

“There’s no way I thought he was playing today,” Carmelo Anthony chuckled when thinking about how Trent Jr. was barely moving at the team meeting on Jan. 18. 

But, Trent Jr. not only played, he dropped a 30-piece.

With injuries and a trade that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento, the Blazers had the required league-minimum of eight players on the active roster.

One of those eight was Trent Jr. who was still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  

Portland fell to the Thunder 119-106 despite Trent Jr.’s career-high and Damian Lillard’s 34-point performance.

But the second year player made the most of his minutes during that game, despite feeling like crap. 

There was no time when I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to be good to go. You know, your job is to play basketball. Some people go to work still sick, you still have to work, you still have to do your job in a sense. I was always going to be available no matter what my state was.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame after the Blazers road loss to OKC

January 18th, 2019 will always be known as the Gary Trent Jr. Birthday Flu Game. 

The 2019-20 NBA restart could be known for Trent Jr. putting his name on the map, not just in Rip City.

Jusuf Nurkic, after practice in Orlando: 'Everything is so far, great'

Jusuf Nurkic, after practice in Orlando: 'Everything is so far, great'

Take it from Jusuf Nurkic, he’s overjoyed to be back playing basketball with his teammates -- whether it’s in the team’s practice facility or in the bubble at Disney World.

For Nurk, it seems like a real-life Magic Kingdom.

“It’s a blessing,” Nurkic said after Sunday’s afternoon workout. “Fourteen months, doing the first practice with the team, full squad pretty much. Just a joy, excitement and the passion. I’m loving the basketball -- something I was really missing.

“Everything is so far, great. I’m continuing to try to do my job and get as ready as possible with the team. As far as healthy, zero concerns, man. It’s a lame question.”

Nurkic is getting his first experience playing alongside Carmelo Anthony, after watching him from the sidelines during the earlier part of the season.

”It’s a funny moment,” Nurkic said. “You have a guy with experience like that, the way we’re going to use him. Funny how he slows the game down. The isolation… and he’s able to play his normal position, where he used to play.

“I think it gives us a better opportunity to play better offensive basketball. I think he’s going to make the right read -- take a shot or pass -- and I’m really excited to play with him.”

And Anthony will enjoy the experience, too.

“He’s a playmaker,” Anthony said. “Anytime you have a playmaker up top controlling the offense, getting the ball out of Dame and CJ’s hands, and even my hands, that’s good, especially as a big. When you’re a big who can pass and make plays like that, it gives us another option.”

Nurkic’s passing skills are always a topic. He’s been a perfect fit in the team’s flow offense with his ability to pass teammates open like a great football quarterback. And from any spot on the floor.

“I think in Bosnia, or the Balkan region, we’ve been taught more to play team sports,” he said. “We don’t have the type of individual who can score 50 a game. The more people who touch the ball, the more happier. I think that’s the way I grew up. Assists make two people happy.”

And Coach Terry Stotts has increased Nurkic’s chances of using those playmaking skills, allowing the guards to get more opportunities off the ball.

“I think Coach Stotts and his staff kind of recognized me and are able to use me on the post, on the perimeter or the top of the key,” Nurkic said, “The more I’ve had the ball in my hands, the more they trust me even more.

“I think I’ve been here three-plus years now. They know me as a person and a player. They try to use me as much as possible in that playmaker option -- to make the right decision.”

The Trail Blazers need to approach their first game as a must-win

The Trail Blazers need to approach their first game as a must-win

With the Blazers out of the mandatory 48-hour quarantine period and now undergoing full scrimmages, the team will sharpen its focus towards the remainder of the regular season with the ultimate goal of qualifying for the postseason.

[RELATED]: Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins get high marks from coach, teammates at first practice

To do so, the Trail Blazers must finish within 4 games of the eighth seed in the Western Conference to force a mini-play-in series of games for the final playoff berth.

Heading into Orlando, the Blazers are the ninth seed in the West at 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed. Luckily for Portland, they will play Memphis to re-open the season on July 31.

On the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast, Channing Frye told his co-host, Dan Sheldon, that the game against Memphis is a must-win for the Trail Blazers if they want to play beyond eight more games this season.

"That first game is everything. That should be like Game 7 of the NBA Finals to them," said the 14-year NBA veteran. 

He's right. 

Portland has by far the toughest remaining schedule among the teams fighting for the final spot in the West with an average opponent winning percentage of 0.611. 

[RELATED]: Schedule proves Trail Blazers face difficult uphill climb to playoff berth

But, the Blazers can't get distracted by the tough road ahead. If they're going to make the franchise's seventh consecutive postseason, the Blazers need to defeat the Grizzlies for not just the standings but for their psyche.

"[Winning the first games helps] just from [the] mental standpoint of 'we're beating the team we're going after so we're that one game closer,'" said Frye. 

The former NBA Champion has some advice for how the Blazers can accomplish their goal and overcome the difficult road ahead. 

"They need to focus on just that game and after that, just be consistent." 

If Portland wants to make the postseason, everyone is going to have to contribute. 

"If you're a role player, you usually have a six-minute stint," said Frye. "And in that six minutes, if you're not in shape, it feels like eternity... Do what you do, [but in the second half] give the ball to Dame and CJ and get the hell out the way."

That plan of attack worked for Frye in 2016, when he and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship on the backs of the teams' superstars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. 

Due to the workload of a star, they need to be in great game shape, too, ahead of games beginning. They won't have the luxury of playing themselves into game shape.

"If you are Dame, CJ, Bron, Kawhi, you get a nine to twelve-minute run, cause they'll play you the whole quarter, said Frye. " If you're not in shape and coach has to sub Dame Lillard out at the six minute mark that ruins his whole rotation."

Terry Stotts shouldn't have to worry about that as Lillard has been staying in shape, ready for the moment and opportunity ahead of him to go win a championship.

“I’m going to extend my stay, to have a legit shot at the championship," Lillard said ahead of departing for Orlando.

Now, that title run for Dame starts with the first game. 

Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins get high marks from coach, teammates at first practice

Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins get high marks from coach, teammates at first practice

The Trail Blazers made it through Day One of practice at their temporary home in Orlando Saturday -- with apparently all players in shape and healthy.

Coach Terry Stotts reported no injuries during the workout, which was described as a combination of a first workout of a training camp and a normal mid-season practice.

Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, who had spent most or all of the season on the injured list, were impressive, according to their coach, who was “encouraged.”

“They both looked like the way we remembered them,” Stotts said. “I told Nurk that. He’s the Nurk that I remember, playing at both ends of the floor. He made some good passes, had some good rebounds. He just made good plays. And Zach was full of energy.

“You couldn’t tell that either one of them missed any amount of time. It was very encouraging.”

Damian Lillard came away feeling the same way.

“They looked great,” Lillard said. “They played physical in the paint. They didn’t seem concerned with anything. They looked really comfortable.

“I’m excited about the style we’re going to be able to play at both ends of the floor with those guys -- being up higher in the pick and rolls, putting more pressure on the ball.

“Our rebounding is going to be better than it has all season long. Us being able to play through both the bigs, because they can pass the ball really well. It was just fun to see them back on the floor. Things we haven’t had the luxury of seeing this season. They both looked great. Neither one of them played hesitant and that’s a great thing for our team.”

Lillard said his team’s first full-squad practice since the pandemic halted the season was a mix of a first-day-of-training-camp and a workout during the season.

“It felt a little bit like both,” he said. “It felt like training camp because of the real high energy and excitement at the beginning. A lot of excitement. A lot of clapping.

“But then it felt like a practice we would be having early in the season. Some up-and-downs, some halfcourt drills, just kind of mixing it up. Shooting, A light lift.

“Everything was kind of mixed in like we do during the season. But the energy felt like training camp. Like we stepped away for a while and it was our first time being back together,”

Stotts was impressed with what he saw.

“We did a little bit of everything,” he said. “We kind of reviewed some of the offensive things that we’re looking to do. Kind of tweaked our offense to take advantage of what our new guys can do. And worked on some defensive concepts that hopefully take advantage of our big guys.

“The practice was really good. There was a lot of energy. I think everybody was ready to play basketball. The contact, going live, fullcourt, halfcourt. 

“I didn’t see a lot of rust, to be honest. Everybody looked good. Everybody is in good shape. And I was pretty pleased.

“No injuries.  A couple of bumps and bruises. But really, everybody held up really well. We had a little scrimmage at the end, guys stayed after and got shots. Everybody is concerned about doing too much, too early, but it’s a credit to the guys. They have taken care of themselves. They have been working hard to maintain their physical conditioning.”

Trail Blazers describe life in the Orlando Bubble after first practice Saturday

Trail Blazers describe life in the Orlando Bubble after first practice Saturday

The 2019-20 NBA season is officially back.

The Portland Trail Blazers tipped off their first full-contact practice Saturday evening in the Orlando Bubble.  

It was obvious after talking with Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Head Coach Terry Stotts, that the Blazers are happy to be done with their two days of quarantine, as well as finally being back on the court as a team.

With just over 48 hours spent in Orlando, Portland begins its three-week training camp. Already, the Blazers have had several stories and ways to describe life in the bubble:

Quarantine was ‘therapeutic’ for McCollum.  

Coach Stotts believes the way the NBA has constructed the bubble has been ‘impressive.’

For the leader of the Trail Blazers, Damian Lillard, he described life the bubble as "an AAU like feel" after running into former teammate Shabazz Napier before the Blazers' team meeting earlier in the day, following that up with a run-in with an even more recent former teammate, Kent Bazemore, while Lillard was walking to the bus to head to practice.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

It's hard to believe that July 11 now marks four months since the NBA season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the first practice in the books, McCollum said the biggest thing for the Blazers is getting into game shape; but he, along with Lillard and Coach Stotts, described the return of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins in their first practice back from injury, saying they “looked comfortable.”

McCollum also described what it has been like seeing players in the bubble tested for the coronavirus, making light of it, but saying, “grown men were crying, shedding tears.”

But not to worry, McCollum has plenty to keep him busy when the team isn't practicing. “I’ve got books, video games, got wine.” McCollum said. He also mentioned he brought his tea maker and a humidifier.

Smart move with the humidifier during the summer months in Florida, CJ! 

The Trail Blazers group chat has been, and will continue to be, key during life in the bubble.

“We communicate constantly,” McCollum added. 

The Blazers will now attend daily practices in Orlando ahead of three scrimmages (Thurs., July 23 vs. Indiana, Sun., July 26 vs. Toronto and Tues., July 28 vs. Oklahoma City), and before their eight-game 'seeding' schedule. Portland will officially restart the season on July 31 against the Memphis Grizzlies.


[RELATED]: Trail Blazers return to play schedule in Orlando released

Lillard described the energy of their first practice like a normal training camp practice, but added they were, “doing some up and down, doing some half court sets, just kind of mixing it up… Everything was mixed in like it is during the season.”


[RELATED]: Trail Blazers enter NBA's Bubble in Orlando-- everything you need to know 

The Trail Blazers were one of the last teams to enter the bubble, but after two full days in Orlando, Coach Stotts was quick to give the league credit for what they’ve been able to accomplish with the NBA restart.

The bubble is a unique experience… I’m really impressed with what the NBA has done… All the logistics involved with hotels and testing and food and gyms, security – it’s unbelievable, all the planning… We did our quarantine. Everything went smoothly. Testing… I think everybody has been pretty impressed. -- Blazers Coach Terry Stotts

Coach Stotts isn’t focusing on preparing for their first game until the Blazers have had a week to focus on themselves.

It’s all about getting better as a team, especially with the new additions of Nurkic and Collins.

“Right now we’re worried about us. We’ll prepare for Memphis… maybe a week or so before the game. But, right now it’s about just tuning in on what we need to do both offensively and defensively, conditioning, shooting. For this next week to 10 days, we’re going to be worried about making ourselves better,” Stotts said.

The Orlando bubble will show us who truly wants to win this NBA season

The Orlando bubble will show us who truly wants to win this NBA season

The NBA's slated to return from a four-month hiatus at the end of the month inside the bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Former NBA Champion Channing Frye told Dan Sheldon on the latest episode of the Talkin' Blazers Podcast that we'll find out who truly just wants to win when games resume and who won't be fully locked in. 

"Basketball to me is the most subconscious game ever," said Frye. "If you aren't fully committed to winning a game it shows up. Whether you don't dive for a ball. Whether you don't sacrifice your body. Whether you're not communicating with your teammates. It shows.

"Because there have been people that play great, getting points and rebounds, but then they say 'Well they didn't really win. They're not winners.'"

Players like that are often referred to as "empty-stat players" among the NBA community: players that excel on bad teams but their play doesn't translate to winning. While sometimes it's players that are asked to do a role their skill set doesn't permit them to exceed in, such as Zach Lavine or Devin Booker (although Booker seemingly continues to get better as do the Suns), other times players just care about their stats more than winning games.

Channing doesn't want to see the latter in Orlando. 

"I want to see the guys who really want to win and they don't care that they're getting them 'scrub bucket' meals... [that] they're staying in a four-by-four, basically hotel cell for the next month. They're there to win and help their team and do whatever it takes." 

NBA players have spoken out on social media about the living conditions in the bubble whether it's Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo likening his room to a Motel 6 or others posting pics of subpar-looking food on Instagram stories. 

Some players don't seem to care such as Memphis Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant who just wants to ball. 

That could not be good news for the Portland Trail Blazers, who sit 3.5 games behind Memphis for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference entering the NBA's resumption. It won't take long for them to find out, as Portland plays Memphis to re-open the season on July 31 at 1:00 PT here on NBC Sports Northwest. 

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers return to play schedule in Orlando released

However, I wouldn't be too worried. The Trail Blazers appear focused and ready to compete, despite having by-far the hardest schedule among teams fighting for a playoff spot.

Guard Damian Lillard told Shams Charania that “I’m going to extend my stay, to have a legit shot at the championship” in an interview ahead of departing from Portland. Forward Zach Collins used the term "when", not "if", when talking about if his family will join him in the bubble after the Blazers advance to the Western Conference Semifinals, along with a pretty definitive claim that the Blazers can go far.

"We're just super confident honestly. We know we have a shot to win a title."

Meanwhile, center Jusuf Nurkic, who will play his first NBA game since suffering a compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula on Mar. 25, 2019, echoes that sentiment. 

"With me and Zach healthy, we're going to be a hell of a team."

Portland is bringing winners to the bubble. 

Additionally, the food will only get better in Orlando. The food looks worse to begin because all players and staff need to undergo a 48-hour quarantine inside their hotel room when arriving inside the bubble. After testing negative for COVID-19 following the period, then players will have access to the chefs and food they're accustomed to.

Carmelo Anthony urges the younger generation to act against racism

Carmelo Anthony urges the younger generation to act against racism

Ten-time NBA All-Star. Four-time Olympic Gold Medalist. 

There's a reason that Carmelo Anthony has become one of basketball's most beloved figures.

Now, he's using that influence for the greater good.

For the July issue of SLAM magazine, Melo served as a guest editor for a special edition of the publication surrounding social justice activism through the lens of basketball.

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony delivers poignant message as SLAM guest editor: 'ENOUGH is ENOUGH'

On the cover, Melo and his son Kiyan both wear black hoodies with the powerful words “It stops now,” written across the bottom. 

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Among his contributions to the issue includes an open letter to "future kings and queens" about their role in advocating against the systemic racism against black people and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

P.E.A.C.E. youngin’—

You may feel stuck. You may feel lost. You may be confused. I’m sure you have so many questions. The unknown is what keeps you up at night, but I want you to know your thoughts are POWERFUL. Believe me when I say this, you will get through this fog and uncertainty. Know you can do anything you set your mind to. Learn to trust your instinct. Get rid of that doubt. challenge your fears, overcome them and make them your strengths. Your circumstances do not define who you are as a young man, especially a black boy. It’s hard for me to tell you not to be afraid. I’m still afraid.

The struggle of life is, and always will be, a struggle against your own weakness. Will you become cowardly and think, “I can’t do this. I’m certain to fail”? Or will you challenge the difficulties that lie ahead with the courage of your convictions and tell yourself, “I AM STRONG! oh, and by the way, I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD”? You’re probably questioning whether or not you can become stronger still. Your destiny in life will vary greatly depending on the spirit that you maintain and where you allow it to take you. Just like anything else in life, there will be good and there will be evil. The key is in how you work to overcome that evil, and harness that energy to turn it into power.

Remember these words: LOVE, HELL and RIGHT. If you love it, you will go through hell and with time and patience you will come out right!!!!!!

As long as you know that, you will be able to pick out the chicken from the chicken bones. (I know, that’s deep.)

Growing up, I always thought it was cliché when people told me, “Life is what you make it” or “Be all you can be.”

Now that I’m wiser, I understand how much those words influenced me. I want you to know you are the future. No, really—you are the future!


Anthony will continue to use basketball and his platform to fight against racial injustice while participating in the NBA's resumption in Orlando this month where he will surely continue to speak out. Additionally, some of his Blazers teammates such as Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum will take advantage of the NBA allowing special messages on their jerseys.

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers select which social justice statements they'll be wearing

The new SLAM issue includes essays from sports legends like Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and Spencer Haywood, as well as a WNBA roundtable with Sheryl Swoopes, Angel McCoughtry and Lexie Brown.

100 percent of the proceeds will be donated to charities supporting issues impacting the Black community. Fans who want to get their hands on the Melo edition can order The Social Justice Issue here.

[RELATED: Trail Blazers look to continue to advance discussions on social injustice in Orlando]

The NBA restart will give players not only a platform but also a voice

The NBA restart will give players not only a platform but also a voice

The countdown is on to the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season with the first slate of games tipping off July 30.

On the latest Talkin' Blazers podcast, NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon give us their thoughts and predictions about life in the Orlando Bubble as the Trail Blazers and the other 21 participating teams begin training camp this week.

Frye discusses how the NBA "are the leaders when it comes to their players’ voices" in professional sports.

The NBA has made it clear that they will continue the movement for equality, and do not want to detract from the current Black Lives Matter movement.

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Frye believes that by having superstar NBA players together in one place to resume play, it will be like giving players a megaphone. He also feels that LeBron James will continue to lead by example.

For me, the NBA has by far and away shown that they are the leaders when it comes to their players’ voices, supporting everything to be whatever and whoever you want to be, and I think this is just another example of that. I think it’s giving the players a megaphone for their voice and for their beliefs… it's absolutely amazing. It’s empowering and it changes generations. -- Channing Frye on the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast

Fyre also added that LeBron James will be and has been instrumental in allowing players to feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and opinions, saying, “[LeBron] is the leader of the NBA, whether people want to acknowledge that or not, he has set a precedent that you’re allowed to speak your mind on your truths and what you believe in.”

Ahead of traveling to Orlando, both Damian Lillard and Blazers coach Terry Stotts shared their vision in looking to continue the social injustice conversations.

Lillard, who attended a Black Live Matter march in Portland last month, believes the NBA has a real opportunity to use its platform to make impactful statements and continue to support the black community when play resumes.   

Obviously there will be a lot of eyes on us in Orlando. So I do agree with the fact that it’s an opportunity for us to make statements with the amount of people that’s going to be watching -- whether that’s together, before games, during games, after games, TV commercials, whatever that might be, I do see some opportunities in that.  -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard

The Blazers landed in Orlando Thursday evening. Following two days of quarantine, Portland will hit the ground running with their first team practice Saturday night. 

Life inside NBA bubble won't be boring from an outsider's perspective

Life inside NBA bubble won't be boring from an outsider's perspective

The Portland Trail Blazers arrived in Orlando, Florida Thursday evening and now will be quarantined for two days before training camp begins Saturday night in the NBA bubble.

With only one back-to-back, and a handful of matinee games locally, here's how Portland’s ‘regular season’ of eight games shakes out:

  • Friday, July 31 vs. Memphis Grizzlies (1:00p.m. Pacific Time)
  • Sunday, Aug. 2 vs. Boston Celtics (12:30pm Pacific Time)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 4 vs. Houston Rockets (6:00p.m. Pacific Time)
  • Thursday, Aug. 6 vs. Denver Nuggets (5:00p.m. Pacific Time)
  • Saturday, Aug. 8 vs. LA Clippers  (10:00a.m. Pacific Time)
  • Sunday, Aug. 9 vs. Philadelphia 76ers (3:30p.m. Pacific Time)
  • Tuesday, Aug. 11 vs. Dallas Mavericks (2:00p.m. Pacific Time)
  • Thursday, Aug. 13 vs. Brooklyn Nets (TBD)

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As players look to get back in game shape during the NBA’s three-week training camp, we are all looking to keep up with life in the bubble.

And so far, looking at the social media posts from the bubble -- they have not disappointed.

With players, staff members, and media members all eager to share what life in the bubble looks like, it will almost feel as if we are down in Orlando.

And we are here for it!


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Another big topic of conversation has been the food provided to the players and staff inside the bubble.

And, we should say -- the not-so appetizing food. 

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