"Man in the Turquoise Shirt" heckles Lillard all the way to 34 2nd-half points

"Man in the Turquoise Shirt" heckles Lillard all the way to 34 2nd-half points

ORLANDO – Somebody said the guy was wearing a turquoise shirt. But come on, that’s nothing to go on in the Sunshine State. A whole lot of people are wearing turquoise, it seems.

We’ll never know the man’s name, but the Orlando Magic have to be considering not allowing him through the turnstiles any more – at least when Damian Lillard is playing the Magic.

That man was a heckler who jumped on Lillard’s back in the first half Thursday night when the Trail Blazer guard was suffering through a rough shooting spell. Lillard went coast-to-coast to hit a buzzer-beating layup to end the half and put his team up by 10.

And at that point, Lillard was 2-8 from the floor, 0-2 from three-point range and 3-5 from the foul line for seven points.

So keep talking, Man in the Turquoise Shirt.

Lillard finished with 41 points to lead a 128-114 win over the Magic and handled the heckler the way the true pros do it – with his play on the court.

"Something one of the fans said pissed him off," CJ McCollum said. "it was probably the wrong thing for (the fan) to do. He was aggressive, attacked the basket, he knocked down shots for us. He was huge in the second half"

“He kept hollering my name,” Lillard said, “'You don’t want to play tonight.' 'You ain’t that good.' It wasn’t so much what he was saying, the whole first half he just wouldn’t shut up. I got tired of it. And that was it. I told him at the end of the second quarter. I said, ‘We’re gonna see.’ And he kept going and talking, and we saw it.”

Lillard made 11 of his 15 shots in the second half, including 5 of his 8 three-pointers. He also finished with seven rebounds and six assists.

“I didn’t hear much from him in the second half,” Lillard said.

Lillard was asked if he noticed what the guy was wearing.

“I didn’t look at his shirt,” Lillard said. “I was looking at his eyes.”

Lillard had plenty of offensive help on this night. Zach Collins pitched a perfect game en route to 17 points, making all seven of his shots, including both threes and also a foul shot.

And with Collins’ 17 and Seth Curry’s 11, the Portland bench chimed in with 40 points on 18 for 27 shooting,

Evan Turner did an outstanding job guiding Portland's second unit. And he was pretty geeked up about Lillard's performance.

"It's big time, man," Turner said. "it's even bigger because he was pushing us into the lead, it wasn't like a blowout type thing it was we needed points, big buckets, and he answered a lot of runs so, it was huge to start this first game of a four-game road trip. I don't know who was talking, it doesn't make any sense to me. He answered back. He came out ultra aggressive. He had an amazing performance."

Surely, it was Lillard’s night and I’m pretty certain if the Trail Blazers could find The Man in the Turquoise Shirt they’d offer him a free trip down to Miami for Portland’s Saturday night game.

As long as he promises to keep heckling.

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CJ McCollum names his top three NBA players today

CJ McCollum names his top three NBA players today

Ranking the best players in the NBA has been a discussion as old as the league, but now CJ McCollum has shared his opinion. 

In an episode of The Boardroom, the Trail Blazers guard was asked who the best three players in the NBA are at this moment and told to put them in order.

He knew the top three pretty quickly but needed some time for how to rank them.

I'd go Bron....Kawhi. Giannis.

McCollum thinks that LeBron James "has solidified himself as the best player right now" and even said that he would have his vote for the MVP award.

[He] makes his team better. Like you take him off that Laker team you see what happened last year you know what I'm saying. Like put him on another team. If you change roles that's how I look at like most valuable player. 

The choice of LeBron as the game's best player isn't a controversial one, but to say he's also the MVP is. Before the abrupt suspension of the NBA season due to COVID-19, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was easily the favorite to win the award averaging 29.6 points (3rd in the NBA) and 13.7 rebounds (3rd in the NBA) on the NBA's best team while also recording a PER of 31.63 (1st in the NBA, 7th all-time). 

LeBron has been great in his own right with 25.7 points (11th in the NBA) and 10.6 assists (1st in the NBA) but the Lakers have a worse record than the Bucks and James has Anthony Davis as his team's second-best player who is arguably a top-five player in the world as well. 

With his choice for the second-best player, CJ chooses Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard who led the Toronto Raptors to an NBA Championship just last season, which included winning four straight games in the Eastern Conference Finals against Giannis, CJ's third-best player. 

McCollum took Kevin Durant out of the running because of his Achilles tear suffered in Game 5 of the 2019 NBA Finals. 

Report: NBA and Players Union assessing swift COVID-19 tests

Report: NBA and Players Union assessing swift COVID-19 tests

While Adam Silver said that no decision on the NBA season will be made before May 1st, at minimum, some good news came through shortly after those remarks. 

According to ESPN's Baxter Holmes, the NBA and the NBA Players Union are currently assessing multiple different methods of testing for COVID-19 as they attempt to figure out how to resume play when the time is right.

Multiple league sources told Holmes that one avenue is "diabetes-like" blood testing which could give back results within 15 minutes with the prick of a finger. However, one concern as told by an athletic training official is that, "that person just got infected, he's carrying, but he's not showing, and you do the finger-prick test that says negative and then you have him amongst everybody else, thinking he's got a clean bill of health, but he doesn't really," which further spreads the virus.

The Washington Post reports that Abbott Laboratories has begun shipping the FDA approved tests nationwide this week, and that they can deliver a result in 5-13 minutes. 

The ability to mass test and get results fast would be a critical first step towards being able to resume play this season, even if the games would need to be closed off to the public and in a controlled environment. One internal proposal includes having Las Vegas host the entirety of the postseason without fans in attendance but make games available to watch on television. 

Holmes also reported that league sources "stressed" that these methods of testing are in the "exploratory phase" only, and that the NBA will not return until "after the government and various medical agencies and public health officials give the green light." 

Even if the tests are widely available to the NBA, much more logistical nightmares will exist from isolating players before and during the postseason, like, how often do you test staff and players, and if a test is positive, how long are they held out? 

"Creating a perfect bubble of sorts might sound like an ideal aim, but many around the league said such a goal seems almost logistically impossible."

Another concern will be the availability of the tests due to the number of people that will need access to them before the NBA: "We are going to be clearly second in line to healthcare workers, transportation workers, public workers, things along those lines," said one longtime NBA head athletic trainer.

Regardless if these tests will prove to be the key to resuming play, the NBA will explore every possible avenue before canceling the season due to the billions of dollars at stake that would come from not finishing out the 2019-2020 NBA season.

Adam Silver says NBA won’t make a decision about the 2019-20 season until at minimum May 1

Adam Silver says NBA won’t make a decision about the 2019-20 season until at minimum May 1

Monday, the NBA launched “#NBATogether with Ernie Johnson,” a new social talk show hosted by TNT’s Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson. 

The show welcomed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as the first guest. 

Even though Silver does not know if this season will resume or not, he did give some insight on a timeline he is looking at for making such decisions.

Silver told Johnson that he has let people around the NBA know that there will be no real answer on whether or not this season will restart again or potentially be cancelled until, at a minimum, May 1.

As of right now, Silver doesn’t know exactly how things would look if the season does resume this summer. He admitted that at a certain point, the league's current decisions will begin to impact next season.

The 57-year-old also had a smile on his face when he admitted that one of his hobbies lately has been doing FaceTime calls with his family as well as video conferencing with people around the league.

Silver didn’t just discuss how COVID-19 impacts the immediate future of the NBA, but also what this virus could potentially change down the line.

He posed the question, “How will this change American’s lives?”  

Silver added that “there may be certain modifications that we’re going to need to make” within the NBA.

With that, Silver mentioned the league has looked at the possible changes of not allowing as much access to the players and maybe changing how food is served at NBA arenas.

There may be some social distancing protocols that could be put in place when the NBA does come back.

Silver has a lot to consider over the next few weeks and probably over the next few months. But, from the sounds of it, he is leaving no stone unturned.

Carmelo Anthony thinks he could have won 2-3 rings with Detroit, Ben Wallace disagrees

Carmelo Anthony thinks he could have won 2-3 rings with Detroit, Ben Wallace disagrees

One of the NBA's greatest what-if's is what would have happened if in the 2003 NBA Draft, the soon-to-be NBA Champion Detroit Pistons, took Carmelo Anthony to add to their already stacked team. 

Melo discussed the hypothetical in an Instagram Live with fellow 2003 draftee Dwyane Wade, saying he doesn't know where his career goes but he knows he'd have some jewelry. 

I don't know what In would have been if I would have went to Detroit. I know I would have had two, maybe two or three rings... But I don't know how everything else would have played out after throughout my career. 

The Detroit Pistons held the second overall selection in the 2003 NBA Draft and decided to take Darko Milicic rather than Carmelo Anthony. The NCAA National Champion was selected third overall to Denver where he made the playoffs every season and led the Nuggets to a Western Conference Finals appearance in 2009. 

Despite taking the largest bust of the historically stacked 2003 Draft, the Pistons still won the NBA Championship that season shocking the Los Angeles Lakers, who were looking for their fourth championship in five seasons, in just five games. 

However, one pillar of that championship team, Ben Wallace, thinks not only would Melo not have won two or three rings in Detroit, but that the Pistons would have never won a ring with Melo on the roster.

In an appearance on the 120 Watts Podcast, the four-time Defensive Player of the Year said that the Pistons making the wrong pick in Milicic was the best move for them looking back, rather than taking Anthony. 

If we would've drafted Carmelo, I honestly don't think we would have ever won a championship... Melo would want to play right away. That would have the potential to disrupt the team chemistry. By drafting Darko, he came in and said that he is not ready to play on this team. Who I am going to play in front of. I’m not ready, and by him doing that and accepting his role, it allowed us to build and grow and get stronger and eventually win a championship. - Ben Wallace

That 2004 Pistons team has gone down in history as one of the only teams in NBA history to win a championship without a "superstar" player, but rather a collection of very good players such as Chauncey Billups, Wallace, Rasheed Wallace, Richard Hamilton, and Tayshaun Prince. 

“If we drafted Carmelo, Tayshaun wouldn’t blossom to be the type of a player that he was,” he added. “We won that championship on the back of the best block I’ve ever seen in my life, and I blocked a lot of shots. That is the type of grit and grind that the team had.”

Mr. Big Shot disagrees with his former teammate and thinks the Pistons could have been a dynasty had they selected Melo.

"If [Detroit] got Melo, we would've won three championships" - Chauncey Billups

From 2003-2008, the Pistons played in six consecutive Eastern Conference Finals and advanced to the Finals in back-to-back seasons in 2004 and 2005. Had they drafted Melo and had a real superstar, maybe he could have gotten them over the hump and won more than one ring. 

CJ McCollum suggests 150 NBA players are living paycheck to paycheck

CJ McCollum suggests 150 NBA players are living paycheck to paycheck

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly taken its toll on Americans and people all over the world.  

It’s certainly a scary time right now as we continue to navigate through these unchartered waters, while also continuing our efforts to flatten the curve.

With so much uncertainty out there, so many are already hurting financially around the country.

But, could this really be affecting some NBA players’ finances?

With the NBA remaining in suspension to help limit the spread of COVID-19, tough decisions about the rest of the season are being discussed, which includes a significant reduction in pay for NBA players.

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum joined former NBA player Jay Williams on the digital show The Boardroom, which is aimed at what's really changing the game. 

McCollum shared his opinions on how he believes 150 NBA players of the 450 are currently living paycheck to paycheck.  

“I would say there are some guys in the league that are hurting right now because obviously a work stoppage is in place, there could be a pay stoppage. We are on pace to lose about 23.5 percent of income of this season,” McCollum told Williams.

The median salary of an NBA player as of 2017 was $2.5 million, according to Basketball Reference, while the average salary of an NBA player was $6,936,154. 

So, some people out there may ask, but how is this possible for players to be living paycheck to paycheck?

The minimum NBA salary, in 2019-20, for a player with no prior NBA experience was eligible for an $893,310 minimum salary with the minimum set at 90 percent of the salary cap.

Obviously there’s a bit of discrepancy in the lower paid players to the highest paid, but there’s more to it than that goes into relying on the next paycheck as McCollum explained.  

I think a lot of guys are going to be hurting especially people on minimums or people that didn’t just budget correctly and didn’t expect this to happen. Maybe they loaned money or paid money to family. Maybe they’re taking care of multiple people and now there’s a work stoppage and for a lot of people in America. -- CJ McCollum said on ‘The Boardroom’   

“I would say out of 450 players… 150 probably are living paycheck to paycheck,” McCollum added.   

Between players being taxed at the highest rate and not budgeting properly while trying to live up to a certain NBA lifestyle and supporting family and friends, now facing a pay cut-- there is a lot that goes into nearly a third of the NBA living paycheck to paycheck. 

McCollum has long talked about investing and having a back-up plan. 

“I have been strategically investing,” McCollum said. “Diversifying my portfolio. Learning more about other ventures and things of interest to where I am stable even though the market has been terrible. I’ve diversified enough where it doesn’t really hurt me. Other people need to be forward thinkers. Not just basketball players. Not just people in the sports world. But people in general. Life happens fast. You have to have a Plan B, a backup plan and really figure out a way to have different avenues of income and just avenues of happiness. That is what is really important, being at peace and having that happiness.”

Jusuf Nurkic wonders if NASA could help the NBA resume on Mars

Jusuf Nurkic wonders if NASA could help the NBA resume on Mars

The NBA has been working diligently to come up with various scenarios for a possible return of the 2019-20 season.

It was on Mar. 18 when NBA Commissioner Adam Silver laid out three scenarios in which he believed the NBA could return.

“I’d say I’m looking at three different things here:

One is -- Of course, when can we restart and operate, as we’ve known -- 19,000 fans in buildings, that’s one set of criteria.

Then option two is – Should we consider starting without fans and what would that mean? Because presumably if you had a group of players and staff around them and you could test them and you could follow some protocol, doctors, health officials may say it’s safe to play…

And then, the third option that we are looking at now, and I would say all suggestions are welcome, is that… Are there conditions in which a group of players could compete and maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just for the good of the people?” –Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols

Yet, there is one suggestion we are betting the NBA hasn't thought of yet.

Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic is looking to outer space to solve some problems here on Earth.  

Using the hashtag ‘Ask NASA,’ Nurkic tweeted at NASA looking for some help.

“I just wonder can NASA help us organize to resume NBA somewhere in universe? Mars? Jupiter?”

Three things about this:

1. Nurk REALLY wants the NBA back

2. He is REALLY thinking outside the box

3. This was a REALLY put a smile on our faces

Who else read that tweet and thought -- this could be the ultimate Space Jam movie with the NBA taking on the Monstars!?

This summer, NASA does have two high-profile missions ready to launch: Demo-2 and the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance.

According to Space.com, Demo-2 is a test flight that will send NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to and from the International Space Station. The mission is scheduled to lift off in mid-to late May. Perseverance will launch during a 2.5-week-long window that opens in mid-July. The car-size rover will land inside Mars' Jezero Crater in February 2021.

So, it sounds like NASA might still be pretty busy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but hey, that doesn’t mean we aren’t eagerly waiting to see their reply to Nurk on Twitter. 

Meyers Leonard gets Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic while raising money for charity

Meyers Leonard gets Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic while raising money for charity

A lot of crazy things can happen when you are streaming video games for 24 hours straight. 

Ask Meyers Leonard, who woke up this morning with a Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic on his right arm. 

The former Trail Blazers big man is coming off 24 hours straight of streaming on ESPN Esports’ Twitch channel to raise money for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. His goal is to help provide food for $1 million people in the month of April.  

About 9 hours into the “Hammer Classic,” Meyers felt proud of his fundraising efforts and rewarded himself with a Sharpie a tattoo of Tiger King star Joe Exotic. His wife, Elle, is the artist behind the impressive masterpiece. 

I’m not sure what we’re more amazed by: Elle’s crossovers on the court or her baller artwork. Take a look: 

During the live gaming session, Leonard gave away an XBOX One X console, a FaZe jumpsuit and of course a pack of 12 Level Foods bars. Elle and Meyers created the protein bars company, Level Foods, while they were in Portland. 

Leonard will also be donating $25,000 matched by the National Basketball Players Association for the cause.

Leonard is one of many NBA players who have turned to esports to help engage with fans in an authentic way. 

Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside has also been doing his part to provide some "live" basketball content to fans while games remain on hiatus. He was one of 16 participants in the NBA2K20 tournament held last week. 

Social media reacts once again to Damian Lillard's 61-point performance in win over Warriors

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USA Today Images

Social media reacts once again to Damian Lillard's 61-point performance in win over Warriors

Portland had nine players available. 

Golden State had eight.

But, with Damian Lillard taking over the Jan. 20, 2020 game it was another instant classic that was fun to re-watch. 

Portland was without CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, and Jusuf Nurkic due to injuries, but the Blazers were also missing Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver at this point in the season too. The trade with the Kings had not been made official, thus no Trevor Ariza either.

That didn’t matter for the Blazers.

Portland defeated the Golden State Warriors 129-124 in overtime behind Lillard’s 61 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists on the night.  

Lillard had 42 points at the end of the third quarter. The rest of the Trail Blazers combined had 45 points.

Blazers fans all over Twitter couldn’t help but show their love for Lillard’s 61-point performance.

Also, does this game seem like it was less than three months ago? 

 

Heading into this one, in two games against Golden State this season, Lillard had averaged 35.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.0 block.

The 61-point performance from Lillard was smack dab in the middle of a tremendous scoring run for the 29-year-old. During an eight-game span from Jan. 17 to Feb. 2, Lillard averaged 45.1 points, 9.6 assists, and 5.5 rebounds.

We all know Lillard can score in a variety of ways. He has plenty of go-to moves in his arsenal.

It was fun to see what Lillard-moves fans absolutely love or are still stunned that he can do. (Even though really, nothing Lillard does these days should surprise anyone.)  

Next up, re-live Lillard’s 0.9 game-winner over Houston in the 2014 NBA Playoffs Tuesday night at 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. 

Zach Collins shares his 3 Movie Picks for the Week of April 6th

Zach Collins shares his 3 Movie Picks for the Week of April 6th

Now that we are all going on four weeks of no NBA and no sports while self-isolating during the COVID-19 pandemic, Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins is here to help!

For those of you who don’t know, Collins is a bit of a movie buff.

And now he is going to be sharing his movie recommendations with you, Rip City!

For the next few weeks, Collins will be handing out his top three movie picks each week.

Here are Zach’s picks for the week of March 30th:

Pick No. 1: Chef

Independent, feel-good movie. Not too long and easy watch. -- Zach Collins on why he recommends Chef

Who’s in it?

Jon Favreau, Sofía Vergara, and John Leguizamo

Plot: Chef is a 2014 American comedy-drama film where Jon Favreau plays a chef, who after a public altercation with a food critic, he quits his job at a popular LA restaurant and then starts a food truck business with his son.

Rated R for language

Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 87%

Where to stream Chef?

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • iTunes
  • VUDU
  • YouTube

Movie trailer:

Pick No 2: Whiplash

Another independent movie. Really intense, great acting. J.K. Simmons won the supporting actor Oscar. -- Zach Collins on why he likes the movie Whiplash

Who’s in it?

Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, and Melissa Benoist

Plot: A 2014 American drama film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It outlines the relationship between an ambitious jazz drumming student and his abusive music instructor.

Rated R

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 93%

Where to stream Whiplash?

  • Amazon Prime Video
  • iTunes
  • VUDU
  • YouTube
  • Google Play

Movie trailer:

Pick No. 3: American Assassin

Critics didn’t love it, audiences thought it was OK. I think it’s a very slept on action movie and that’s a big reason why I love it.  Very gritty. -- Zach Collins on American Assassin

Who’s in it?

Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton, Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, and Taylor Kitsch

Plot: A 2017 American action thriller film directed by Michael Cuesta. The movie is based on Vince Flynn's 2010 novel of the same name about a young CIA black ops recruit who helps a Cold War veteran try to stop the detonation of a rogue nuclear weapon.

Rated R

Where to stream American Assassin?

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • VUDU
  • YouTube
  • Google Play
  • iTunes

Movie trailer:

Check back next week for more of Zach’s movie recommendations!