Most of Portland is rejoicing after a flurry of moves put the Blazers in a promising position heading into the 2019-20 season. However, the celebration of acquired talent should also come in tandem with solemnity over one of the bigger constants on Portland’s roster over the last seven years.
Until this morning, now former Portland center Meyers Leonard had been the longest tenured Blazer since getting selected with the 11th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. While the player he entered the league with, Damian Lillard, has reached heights few players in the organization have ever gone before, Leonard’s career arc has been a little more up and down.
Despite flashing promise (and of course, his good looks) on so many occasions, Leonard was never able to consistently bring the production that his lofty draft status and requisite second contract warranted. Because of this, he constantly drew the ire of fans, who unfairly blamed him for accepting an offer that any of us would have taken.
While Leonard was not able to live up to the hype on the court, he exceeded expectations off the court. Leonard was widely regarded as a consummate teammate and member of the community. Like Leonard tweeted below, he transformed from a kid from Robinson, Illinois to a married man who is a wonderful representation of what it means to be a Portland Trail Blazer.
Portland, I honestly don’t even know where to begin. I moved to PDX when I was just 20 years old. I had dreams of being in the NBA and there I was, a young man, fulfilling my dreams and taking care of my family playing a game I love. pic.twitter.com/c7bLW2c4bu— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) July 1, 2019
I became a man in Portland. I married my amazing wife in Portland. I feel that I helped create a culture in this organization that is built to last. I am incredibly thankful for each and every opportunity that has come my way for the last 7 years of my NBA career.— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) July 1, 2019
To all of my teammates, coaches, staff, media, the Trail Blazers organization, the fans, and to the city of Portland, THANK YOU. I truly gave this city my heart and soul and I sincerely hope I left you a better place and team because of it.— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) July 1, 2019
With Love&Loyalty always on my heart, goodbye Portland. 🔨❤️🌹— Meyers Leonard (@MeyersLeonard) July 1, 2019
Portland will move on from Leonard on the court, as they look to not only reach the Western Conference Finals once again, but also take the next step as they hunt for an NBA title. However, fans should appreciate what Leonard brought in the locker room and to the city, as he was the embodiment of why this team is loved by so many.