In Meyers Leonard, Blazers fans were made to reflect on themselves outside of basketball

In Meyers Leonard, Blazers fans were made to reflect on themselves outside of basketball

Truth be told, I’ve had some iteration of this column written for some time. 

Its details have changed, naturally, as Meyers Leonard’s story has taken shape: first as an unremarkable rookie, then as a sweet-shooting stretch five. Eventually, Leonard became a vessel for catching of all Rip City’s vitriol, most of it undeserved. It’s led us to the 2018-19 version of Leonard — his best iteration yet — and a sort of unsteady rewriting of how harshly he was viewed by much of the Portland Trail Blazers fanbase. It’s difficult to explain what to make of that.

Leonard is with the Miami Heat now, his expiring contract a cog in the machine that wheeled Jimmy Butler in from the Philadelphia 76ers to South Beach. His legacy with the Heat, and any team that comes after, will never be held in as much contempt as it was here in Oregon. Leonard is 27 now, and as close to his final form as an NBA player as ever. For that reason, he’ll never be as unabashedly loved as he was here, either.

His final season with the Blazers was, for many, a chance to reconcile with the former No. 11 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Leonard was a source of disappointment for much of his time in Blazer Land, but this year his offensive prowess allowed Portland fans to find purchase in their hearts for a man they’d cast out so long ago. It helped that the team’s Western Conference Finals run put Leonard back into fan’s good graces. He deserved it, too.


Leonard ranked in the 99th percentile for spot-up shooters this past season, with his work as a cutter and pick-and-roll man equally as impressive, according to Synergy. Leonard had something more to give, his decisions quicker on each side of the ball. His advanced statistics in the playoffs were some of the best for a team whose front line needed his floor-spacing talents. Finally, the way in which the Blazers needed Meyers Leonard was the way in which Meyers Leonard could provide for the Blazers.

In the playoffs, Leonard did what he needed to do: rotate the ball, absorb fouls, contest at the rim, and shoot from deep. In his final game of the year — the final game he’d ever play for Portland — Leonard scored 30 points, going 5-of-8 from 3-point range while grabbing 12 rebounds and three assists in 40 minutes against the Golden State Warriors. It was Leonard putting all his skills into action at once, and the hot-and-cold love affair for Meyers was back on the stove.

The only problem was that it wasn’t clear if Blazers fans deserved to be let back into Leonard’s heart. 

...

In Portland, fans are true to their extremes. The word fanatic means something on the banks of the Willamette. It’s what happens when an indoor city like Portland is mixed with an NBA team as the only game in town: “Blazermania” was the original iteration of this, and the modern version takes the form of Favorite Son and Scapegoat. 

Each season, Portland fans pick one player to love and one to rail against, both unconditionally. In the past decade alone, Favorite Sons have been: Jake Layman, Thomas Robinson, Will Barton, Luke Babbitt, Allen Crabbe, Meyers Leonard, Shabazz Napier, Tim Frazier, Noah Vonleh, and Pat Connaughton. Scapegoats included but were not limited to Leonard, Vonleh, Crabbe, Joel Freeland, Mo Williams, JJ Hickson, and Evan Turner.

Players have flipped between this informal designation, usually from year-to-year but sometimes during the course of a season. Leonard is the lone player of this ilk that has cumulatively made each list more than any other. It’s this relationship that, since his rookie season in 2012-13, has been difficult to explain to those who have not experienced Leonard’s career.

His first season in Portland, Leonard was plunked at the center position out of necessity. He was the Blazers’ sixth man, playing the most minutes outside of any starter thanks to JJ Hickson’s inability to do anything other than rebound and score for himself. Neil Olshey and Terry Stotts wanted to see what they had in the athletic, high-flying Leonard. They soon found out what was always likely: he was a project.


Meanwhile, Damian Lillard took off like a rocket. The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year was an immediate star, the franchise cornerstone that was destined to take the reigns from Aldridge sooner rather than later. Lillard’s rise made Leonard — taken just five spots later in that draft — look like a weaker choice by comparison. Aldridge was a star, Lillard was too. Portlanders didn’t want to wait for the Illinois product to develop, a process for that for NBA big men usually takes through their first contract to complete. Thus was born the impatience for Leonard, and pressure started to mount.

The arrival of Robin Lopez in the summer of 2013 and the unexpected rise of Freeland from the dregs of frontcourt development purgatory pushed Leonard to the bench. His minutes were cut in half his sophomore year, and Leonard scored fewer than 100 points. The saber-rattling about trading Leonard began among fans, and drafts were written, ready to be inked over later, labeling him a bust.

Rip City searched for grace after Leonard’s second season in 2013-14, but found nothing of the sort despite his minutes and impact waning. He stormed back offensively, and his 40/50/90 season in 2014-15 should have shifted for the masses who Leonard was, and where he was useful. But it didn’t. 

Because Leonard crested the 7-footer mark (with shoes only: his actual height is a quarter inch short of that vaunted threshold), he was held to a different standard. The refrain on the streets and blog posts of Portland was If he’s that tall he must block shots and score with his back to the basket. This was a holdover from a different era, the same kind of conventional thinking that had led to the drafting of Greg Oden over Kevin Durant five years earlier. At least partly, this wasn’t completely laughable.

The year before Leonard was drafted, NBA teams combined to attempt 36,395 shots from beyond the 3-point line. By the time Leonard notched his best shooting season ever — just three years later — that number had gone up by more than 50 percent. Now, as Leonard makes his way to Florida, it’s more than doubled.

A change in how the NBA valued 3-pointers coincided with how Leonard shot the ball. We saw him fire from deep during Las Vegas Summer League a couple of years into his tenure. Between his second and third season, Leonard went from shooting single-digit threes to triple-digits.

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“Stop.. Hammer Time” 🔨⏰

A post shared by Meyers Leonard (@meyersleonard) on


Running alongside this, outpacing Portland’s young big man, was how social media was used in sports. We adopted Facebook and Twitter as a means to communicate about our favorite leagues. Early NBA Twitter was the Wild West, with anyone and everyone able to suddenly speak directly — and loudly — to their favorite stars instantaneously.

If you wanted to explain to outsiders the complexity of emotion surrounding seven years of Meyers Leonard in Portland, this would be it: height, 3-point shooting, and Twitter.

In this regard, Leonard was drafted not only too early for his own age, but for the era in which he began his career. GMs began reaching for shooting a few seasons after Leonard was drafted. Had he been born in 1995 instead of 1992, he might be seen as another P.J. Hairston, Juancho Hernangomez, Sam Dekker, Nik Stauskas, or Doug McDermott. As the 3-point revolution took over the NBA, it became more acceptable to swing-and-miss on shooting. But that wasn’t the case in 2012, and as a group fans have struggled to understand who he is, and what to expect of him.

...

When draft mate Lillard continued to excel, the rancor surrounding Leonard grew to a cacophony. Each year, the expectations for Leonard appeared to turn more ludicrous, with the fanbase uninterested in taking into account context and prior performance as a projection of what was to come. No matter what, Portland couldn’t get it out of their heads. Block shots! Post up! Stop shooting! they clamored as one of the league’s best long-range gunners went underutilized in the Blazers offense. It was baffling.

Despite some hope after Leonard’s 2014-15 campaign, things wavered. That summer the team fired big man coach Kim Hughes, a Meyers confidant, who let it slip that LaMarcus Aldridge was leaving the team in free agency. Leonard’s defensive development stagnated the next year, and his season ended with a shoulder injury in late 2016.

An injury-confined season followed in 2016-17. His minutes remained steady but the bungee effect of Leonard’s inability to train after surgery delayed his progress. Surprisingly, it wasn’t his left shoulder that was holding him back.

  
In February of 2017, Leonard told me in an interview that his lower body wasn’t ready to perform. Because he couldn’t hold any weights or even run following surgery in spring of 2016, Leonard came into the next season physically unprepared to battle at the center position. That led to an acute, nagging discrepancy in capacity as he struggled to catch up against high-caliber big men.

“All of a sudden my back was starting to really bug me, and that was because I just hadn't taken any type of load whatsoever,” Leonard said in a February 2017 edition of the Locked on Blazers podcast. “It probably took me until mid-January to even really feel like I had my legs back under me.”

The next season an ankle sprain kept Leonard out here and there, and he fell out of Stotts’ rotation as Zach Collins came on strong. He performed in fits and starts, playing double-digit minutes three times in 2018. When last summer came, and with the team declining to re-sign Ed Davis, it appeared to be Leonard’s time to shine yet again. 

And we know how that turned out.

...

There’s been an outpouring of support in the wake of Leonard’s trade to Miami. Twitter, perhaps for the first time ever, has been positive toward Leonard, wishing him well on his way. This endearment, while on the surface healing, has acted as a mirror reflecting back on two sides the analogous journey taken by Leonard and Blazers fans over these past seven years.

To the left is the journey from boy to man. It’s the timeline of Leonard going through the conventional maturation process of a Millennial in America while at the same time bearing the weight of an unnatural public life which capital itself could not ever be expected to wholly assuage. It’s every slight, every Bieber-ism, every joke about his wife’s shooting. It’s also every friend made, every smile from summer camp kids, and every trip to one of Oregon's greatest landmarks that colored Leonard's life.

On the right of this mirror is the growth of each fan, their own follies individually considered as they’ve matured in their own lifetimes: the mind’s camera flashing back, indiscriminately, to how they might have handled events differently over time by dint of experience, not just with Leonard but with anyone. 


There comes stages in life where it feels as though Yes, finally I am fully formed! My opinions and actions are resolute! only to look back and understand, undoubtedly, that was not the case. Given how fans feel today, with Leonard gone and his growth as a player and as a person considered, would each side have made the same decisions?

Portland fans received several chances to make right by Meyers Leonard. It’s felt as though his dearth of production, contrasted to expectations, were projected as a totem of fans’ own collective irritation with their lives; of infelicity due to failure, happenstance, or qualms that couldn’t be publicized save for as invective toward a 7-foot-1 center from a tiny hamlet in corn country.

That part might remain inexplicable. Or perhaps, this transference is exactly the explanation. From here, the only thing to do — as it is with any complex, adult relationship that didn’t end up quite the way either party had hoped — is to understand that moving forward is the only option, and to hope that time does indeed heal the wound.

For Leonard, he has more to learn and more to show. Blazers fans will give him a standing ovation when he returns to Moda Center next season. In the meantime, Leonard’s ethic and ethos, steeled by his time in this city, is exemplified by his final response about his shoulder injury in 2017, the very thing that marked the beginning of the end of his tenure in Portland.

“I’m working, I’m doing my best,” said Leonard. “I can say that — I know that — and that’s what I’ll continue to do.”

Damian Lillard suggests NCAA Tournament format if NBA play resumes

Damian Lillard suggests NCAA Tournament format if NBA play resumes

With so much up in the air right now, Trail Blazers All-Star point guard is all for experimenting if the NBA is able to resume its 2019-20 season.

Even an NCAA single-elimination tournament?? 

Maybe.

This past December, reports surfaced that “play-in tournaments” to decide the final two playoff teams in both the Western and Eastern Conference was an idea that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was tossing around.

Earlier in the season, the NBA sent out a proposal to teams for a possible 78-game regular season, along with an in-season tournament for all teams, plus, a possible play-in tournament and more.

And that was well before anyone knew the league would be on a hiatus due to a global pandemic.

The Trail Blazers held a video press conference Tuesday afternoon, where Lillard explored the idea of a play-in tournament.

When the season does come back, I feel like it’s only right that teams get a chance to make a playoff push, like ourselves, give us a chance to get in. Or, some type of tournament style where it’s fair… It’s obviously gonna be a different situation than it has ever been, so maybe they should do something that has never been done. Or something that is going to make this year very unique like it already has been. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard

Lillard also mentioned he hasn’t heard anything about when or if the NBA is going to restart, but he added, “It’s kind of starting to feel like postseason, like the season is over. So, we’ll see.”

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard would not be a fan of starting NBA seasons later than usual

The proposed ‘play-in tournament’ from the NBA back in December called for the regular season to end on a Saturday, exactly one week before the start of the playoffs; as opposed to ending it on Wednesday which has been the case for years.

The top six teams in each conference would be secured to make the playoffs, while teams in the seventh through 10th spots would play against each other like so:  

The No. 7 and No. 8 teams would play and then that winner would clinch the No. 7 playoff seed. The teams holding the ninth and 10th-place spots would also play. The winner of that game would play the loser of the No. 7 and No. 8 game to determine the No. 8 playoff seed.

From there, the first two rounds of the playoffs would be played as usual.

Lillard is all for some type of play-in tournament for this season, because, as we all know, he wants to make sure his team has a shot at making the playoffs.

But, he is also not opposed to experimenting even more than just a play-in tourney.

 “They should do something like the NCAA tournament with every team. Single-game elimination, all the way up until maybe the Conference Finals or something like that, and then it's a three-game series, just so we don’t got to start the season off track next year,” Lillard said.

The five-time All-Star truly believes the time to really experiment is now.

“They could get creative. If there was any time for them to get super creative and people will be tuned in and excited about it with everything that’s going on, I think this is the time.” 

Damian Lillard would not be a fan of starting NBA seasons later than usual

Damian Lillard would not be a fan of starting NBA seasons later than usual

There are many ideas about when, or even if, this NBA season will finish and then, when the next season would start.

There has been talk of this season resuming sometime around June and playoffs pushing into August, which could theoretically mean a late start to next season.

It’s even rumored that Commissioner Adam Silver has always wanted to push the season’s start to Christmas Day, thus avoiding direct competition with the majority of the football season. That would mean the upcoming 2020-21 season could be used as a test for such a plan.

But don’t count the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard among those who would like to start next season late. In a video conference with media Tuesday, Lillard said that he is against moving the season and believes most other NBA players would be, too.

“I don’t think so,” Lillard said. “I just don’t see it. I mean, the season starts when it starts now, then February all-star weekend, getting toward the end of the season in April and then getting into the playoffs. You get that early June Finals and then you get to go off into your summer.”

And a lot of players want their extended time off to be in the summer, not the fall and winter.

 “You get to enjoy real-time summer,” Lillard said. “Our break is into the summer and then you get to come back as summer is leaving. I think that’s been perfect.”

Silver would likely need the players association to go along with a major change like this one -- something the players might do in an emergency situation like this year just to get this season completed … but as for a permanent change?

“It’s been perfect for us,” Lillard said. “So, for that to change and for things to be pushed back, I’m definitely not a fan of that and I don’t see many guys being a fan of that.”

Damian Lillard contributed $100,000 to help Moda Center employees

Damian Lillard contributed $100,000 to help Moda Center employees

On March 17th, the Trail Blazers announced a plan to assist the employees at Moda Center. 

“To assist game night employees impacted by the NBA’s postponement, Jody Allen and the Portland Trail Blazers are committing more than $1.4 million towards COVID-19 relief effort. This includes paying part-time Rose Quarter employees for nine postponed Trail Blazers games.”

On Tuesday, Damian Lillard revealed during a video press conference that $100,000 of that came from him. 

Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo was one of the first to announce on social media that he has pledged $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff in order to aid in offsetting costs related to employees’ loss of earnings. While, Kevin Love also donated 

$100,000 through the Kevin Love fund to support the arena staff employees in Cleveland.

It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier. Me and my family pledge to donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together! -- Giannis Antetokounmpo wrote on his Twitter

The NBA announced earlier in March that it launched the "NBA Together" campaign to contribute and raise more than $50 million to support people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

It's a coordinated effort between the NBA, WNBA, G League and NBA 2K League, with more than $30 million already committed by the leagues, teams and athletes.

The program features four pillars—Know the Facts, Acts of Caring, Expand Your Community and NBA Together Live—to help increase knowledge about the coronavirus and help those affected by the disease.

"The phrase 'bigger than basketball' is often used when discussing the efforts of a player or team to make a positive impact in their community," the release said. "The response to this global pandemic is the epitome of 'bigger than basketball' as the NBA looks to do its part to help people across the globe come together and work through these tough times."

Hassan Whiteside to play in NBA 2k players only tournament

Hassan Whiteside to play in NBA 2k players only tournament

It was announced late Monday that the NBA would be partnering with 2k Sports to hold a special players-only NBA 2k Tournament

Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Drummond were the first names announced, but we had no idea who the other 12 would be. 

Here in Rip City, speculation started that Hassan Whiteside could be among the entrants. 

Those with an eye on social media may have noticed what Whiteside said about the tournament on Instagram.

Still, nothing was official... until now.

The Boardroom announced the full list or participants on Tuesday, confirming our suspicions - Whiteside is in!

As the No.3 three seed, the Blazers center will have a first-round matchup against No.14 Pat Beverley.

It's well-known in the Blazers locker room that Whiteside is a big fan of NBA 2k. In fact, he often boasts about beating Gary Trent Jr.

Whiteside knows 2k so well, that he even imitates it in real life.

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That LAG spike🥴😂 #nba2k

A post shared by Hassan Whiteside (@hassanwhiteside) on

Other entrants include Derrick Jones Jr., Trae Young, Harrison Barnes, Rui Hachimura, Devin Booker, Michael Porter Jr., Zach Lavine, DeAndre Ayton, Montrezl Harrell, and Domantas Sabonis.

The tournament will air on ESPN, but the details of the event are still being finalized. 

CJ McCollum and all of Rip City react AGAIN to Trail Blazers Game 7 win over Nuggets

CJ McCollum and all of Rip City react AGAIN to Trail Blazers Game 7 win over Nuggets

All the emotions resurfaced for this classic game.

Game 7 of last year’s playoffs between the Trail Blazers and Nuggets had a little bit of everything!

And as all the postseason feelings came rushing back, it was fun to relive this comeback win with Rip City Faithful. 

Heading into the final game of the series, here is how things played out:

Game 1 Mon. April 29 DENVER 121, Portland 113

Game 2 Wed. May 1 Portland 97, DENVER 90

Game 3 Fri. May 3 PORTLAND 140, Denver 137 (4OT)

Game 4 Sun. May 5 Denver 116, PORTLAND 112

Game 5 Tue. May 7 DENVER 124, Portland 98

Game 6 Thurs. May 9 PORTLAND 119, Denver 108

The win in Denver was in big thanks to CJ McCollum, who posted 37 points and nine rebounds to lead the Trail Blazers to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.

McCollum got it done on both ends too.

We can’t forget about that chase-down swat!

The Trail Blazers shooting guard’s crucial chase-down block on Jamal Murray in crunch time helped turn the tide as the Blazers beat the Nuggets 100-96.

McCollum hit the Blazers first three pointer of the game about four minutes into the second quarter. Portland started the game 0-for-10 from deep.

He was the only Blazer scoring at ease early on.

During tonight's replay of the game, The Trail Blazers shooting guard was live-tweeting the second half on the Trail Blazers’ Twitter, because as CJ put it: “The first half was a snoozefest.”

McCollum’s second half play-by-play was as fantastic as his play in Game 7.

The pull-up jumper to put the Blazers up three with just under 12 seconds remaining in the game was just what McCollum wanted – he got to his spot.

AND... McCollum was out there spitting the truth on Twitter as well:

Plus, he broke the news that he and his fiancée Elise are officially adopting their puppy that they have been fostering for the last week. 

It’s really no surprise this series went to seven games. Denver won the regular season series against Portland in 2018-19, 3-1. All four games were decided by single digits.

And even though it was the CJ McCollum takeover game, Evan Turner was also clutch down the stretch.  ET came up big from the free throw line in the final seconds, while scoring 10 of his 14 points for the game in the fourth quarter.

Turner was fresh after not playing that much in the series, but was given extra minutes after Rodney Hood went out with a knee injury.  

 

ET had scored just four points in the first six games of the series before his clutch Game 7 performance.

What a night it was! To be heading to the team’s first WCF appearance in 19 years was a pretty overwhelming feeling for all of Portland, but especially for the leader of Rip City, Damian Lillard.

There really were so many great memories from that night. And Meyers Leonard even reminded us what the celebration was like in the locker room.

It was also a nice chance to trash talk Denver Nuggets fans once again:

Now, here’s to hoping the NBA resumes and the Trail Blazers are given the chance to get back to the playoffs.

Damian Lillard and his mom bring us the content we need right now

Damian Lillard and his mom bring us the content we need right now

Technology is a wonderful thing.

It allows us to be entertained and stay connected on the daily, but has never been as useful as it has in the past few weeks. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people into self-isolation and social distancing. No big get-togethers. No big family parties.

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, he's just like the rest of us - stuck in his house going stir crazy.

And just like us, he turned to technology to entertain himself. In doing so, he entertained all of us.

Lillard was on Instagram Live having a chat with his mom. 

Lillard, at the request of his mom, played some E-40 and the two started an impromptu karaoke session.

It was wholesome, sweet, and funny all wrapped into one. 

In these tough times, we have to find joy wherever we can. 

On Monday, Lillard and his mom made it easy for all of us. 

Hear it all in the video above, and be sure to put it on repeat. 

FULL FEATURE: Jusuf Nurkic-- Not done yet

FULL FEATURE: Jusuf Nurkic-- Not done yet

Now that we are nearly three weeks in of the NBA suspension due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trail Blazers fans have been eager to find out how their favorite Blazer players are doing.

Our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes caught up with Jusuf Nurkic to find that out and get his thoughts on many of the current happenings in the NBA world.

For one, Nurkic is in favor of play-in tournament for the playoffs should the NBA resume play.

The Trail Blazers center also discussed why his targeted date of Mar. 15 against the Houston Rockets was a “perfect” game for him to make his debut.  

And, we didn’t let Nurkic get off the hook that easy. We finally found out if he knew that referee Tyler Ford had kicked his leg while he was laying on the baseline immediately after the gruesome injury.

Nurk says he"can't get over" that incident.

Plus, the Bosnian Beast let’s us know what he has been up to while self-isolating, which he says he is now an expert at since he has pretty much been a homebody for the past year rehabbing his leg.

Oh and, Nurk is like all of us – “Thank god for Netflix.”

Check out the entire Jusuf Nurkic interview above. 

The NBA sorted into Hogwarts Houses: CJ McCollum is a Hufflepuff?

The NBA sorted into Hogwarts Houses: CJ McCollum is a Hufflepuff?

Quidditch isn’t the only sport in the wizarding world of Harry Potter anymore.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Harry Potter franchise that has forever changed the reality we live in today, Hogwarts is the school of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The school is divided into four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

Upon arrival for your first year at Hogwarts, students are placed into one of the four houses based upon character and personality traits. 

Gryffindor: brave and daring

Ravenclaw: wisdom and willingness to learn new things

Hufflepuff: described as loyal, just, hardworking and nice

Slytherin: sly, cunning and would do anything to achieve their own goals

Ever wonder which house your favorite NBA player would be sorted into? Look no further.

This post on Reddit sorts the NBA into their houses.

It includes the founder of the house (formally Godric Gryffindor; Rowena Ravenclaw; Helga Hufflepuff; and Salazar Slytherin) but now listed as NBA greats Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan, as well as a house ghost (Nearly Headless Nick, Gryffindor; Helena Ravenclaw, Ravenclaw; Fat Friar, Hufflepuff; and the Bloody Baron, Slytherin) now listed as more recently retired NBA veterans.

The editor's notes are from our producer Ashley Young.

Enjoy.

GRYFFINDOR

Founder: Bill Russell

House Ghost: Kevin Garnett

Coach: Doc Rivers

Starting five: Russell Westbrook (PG), Damian Lillard (SG), Jayson Tatum (SF), LeBron James (PF), and Bam Adebayo (C).

Bench: Kyle Lowry, Ja Morant, Donovan Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, Jrue Holiday, Draymond Green, Zion Williamson.

Editors Note: Okay I’m sorry, but no way Russell Westbrook and Draymond Green are in Gryffindor.

RAVENCLAW

Founder: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

House Ghost: Tim Duncan

Coach: Erik Spoelstra

Starting five: Chris Paul (PG), Steph Curry (SG), Luka Doncic (SF), Kawhi Leonard (PF), Giannis Antetokounmpo (C).

Bench: Ben Simmons, Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Editor’s note: Couldn’t agree more with Duncan being the house ghost of Ravenclaw.

HUFFLEPUFF

Founder: Wilt Chamberlain

House Ghost: Shaq

Coach: Brett Brown

Starting five: Kemba Walker (PG), Klay Thompson (SG), Khris Middleton (SF), Anthony Davis (PF), Nikola Jokic (C).

Bench: Bradley Beal, Karl Anthony-Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Devin Booker, Rudy Gobert, Kevin Love, CJ McCollum.

Editor’s note: Completely agree with Jokic being in Hufflepuff although he does have some Slytherin tendencies; Kevin Love I would argue being a Ravenclaw.

SLYTHERIN

Founder: Michael Jordan

House Ghost: Kobe Bryant (Full disclosure: I worried it wasn't in good taste to have Kobe here, for obvious reasons. However, given his public admiration for the HP Universe and just saying in January that he took a house quiz and was sorted into Slytherin, it felt right to include him.)

Coach: Mike D’Antoni

Starting five: Kyrie Irving (PG), James Harden (SG), Jimmy Butler (SF), Kevin Durant (PF), Joel Embiid (C).

Bench: Trae Young, Goran Dragic, Lou Williams, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kristaps Porzingis, Zach LaVine.

Editor’s note: Couldn’t agree more with this starting five.

MUGGLES (aka non-magic folk)

Paul George and Andrew Wiggins.

Editor’s note: OMG.

Click the Reddit link for full sorting descriptions. 

Anfernee Simons wants multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

Anfernee Simons wants multiplayer in Modern Warfare 2 Remastered

With the NBA season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, many NBA players have a lot of newfound free time on their hands.

Including Trail Blazers point guard Anfernee Simons who has been streaming on Twitch games such as Madden and the newly released Call of Duty: Warzone. He's even streamed with Blazers Outsiders host Danny Marang lately.

Given Ant's age of 20, it checks out he'd be attracted to playing Call of Duty since he grew up in the golden age of Call of Duty between Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare up until Call of Duty Black Ops II during his late elementary to high school years.

The installment from that time that's usually seen in the highest regard is Activision's sequel to Modern Warfare; Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which broke the record as the biggest entertainment launch in history at the time. In less than three months, the game had generated over a billion dollars in revenue and that doesn't include microtransactions. 

Also, personally, as I'm just a few years older than Simons, some of my fondest memories growing up was playing Modern Warfare 2 with my best friends online all night, so when a remaster of the game got leaked last month, I was hyped. The campaign was fun, but what made the game iconic was the most fun multiplayer the series has ever produced. 

Well, Monday afternoon, the Playstation Store in Germany accidentally leaked the reveal trailer for a remastered version of Modern Warfare 2 with one catch: it's only the campaign which disappointed many, including Simons.

How u gonna drop just the campaign? Y’all playing with my emotions

He wasn't alone in his disappointment.

Someone even started a petition.

However, it makes sense for the game to not offer multiplayer since Call of Duty: Warzone, a multiplayer-only experience, came out earlier this month of March 10 to great success. Activision doesn't want to split the player base by offering two competing titles within the same franchise. 

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered will launch one day after the leak of the trailer on March 31, 2020.