Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 3

PORTLAND – As the saying goes, it really isn’t a series until somebody loses at home. The Trail Blazers came out determined not to let that happen in Game 3 on Saturday night.

As expected, the Trail Blazers crowd was loud and, as expected, the Blazers shot better at home. Lineup changes helped Portland jump out to a big lead and sustain it, but it wasn’t easy.

The Blazers led by as many as 18 points in the first half.

It was a similar type third quarter in Game 3 to what happened in Game 2. Golden State charged back on Portland and outscored them 29-13 in the third on Saturday night.

And just like Game 2, the Warriors made timely buckets and the Blazers were not able to convert from the field or from the free throw line. Golden State now takes a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 110-99 Game 3 victory.

Final Box Score: Warriors 110, Trail Blazers 99

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 3 loss:

1. Starting lineup changes

The biggest adjustments for both teams in Game 3 was getting a big man in the starting lineup, who hadn’t played much all in the first two games of the series.

It was first reported about an hour before tip-off that Golden State was going to start center Damian Jones in place of Andrew Bogut. The Blazers went with center Meyers Leonard into the starting slot, while Enes Kanter came off the bench.

Jones came back from a pectoral injury this series. He hadn’t played since December. The Blazer had the advantage with the lineup change. Leonard made a positive impact on the defensive end to start the game, alerting shots at the rim.

But Leonard not only tried to anchor the defense, he was the first Trail Blazers player in double figures. A 7-footer who can space the floor has always been one of Leonard’s best attributes. Leonard hesitated on a few of his three-point attempts, but he was still effective from deep if even with a little hesitation. Leonard finished with 16 points, second to McCollum's 23. 

2. Blazers didn’t take advantage at the free throw line

With the crowd behind them, the Trail Blazers started out as the aggressors, attacking the basket and in turn getting the Warriors into foul trouble. Portland’s biggest lead in the first quarter was 10 points and that’s exactly the number of free throws they hit in the first quarter.

Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum got the Warriors guards caught in the air on defense. The Blazers' guards took advantage by shooting right into the Warriors. More often than not, Golden State would get whistled for the foul.

For the Warriors, it was rare to see them at the line until late in the second quarter. Meyers Leonard picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. That was a big blow for Portland since Leonard was getting into a grove at the point in the game.

The problem for the Blazers --

They were not hitting their free throws.

McCollum missed 2-of-3 free throws midway through the final period that would’ve cut the Warriors lead to three. That seemed like the turning point for the Blazers.

3. Draymond had his way with the Blazers in transition

If wasn’t for Draymond Green getting out and running the floor for the Warriors, Golden State might not have been able to stick around. Green was not only scoring in transition, he also pushed the ball up the floor and found his open teammates. Green and the Warriors got out and ran the floor on Blazer misses and makes.

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Warriors will tip-off Game 4 on Monday night at 6:00pm. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 5:30pm.

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For Carmelo Anthony, maintaining mental fortitude is a big key to winning in the bubble

For Carmelo Anthony, maintaining mental fortitude is a big key to winning in the bubble

With so many unknowns on what play will look like once the NBA resumes following a four-month layoff, there are just as many questions as to what life in the Orlando bubble will look like for the 22 NBA teams heading down to Florida this week.

As the Trail Blazers embark on their trip Thursday, power forward Carmelo Anthony described his expectations of living in the bubble and he is ready to use his platform to continue conversations surrounding social justice.

[RELATED]: In Carmelo Anthony's own words, what this season in Portland has been like

Being a 17-year NBA vet also means Melo is ready to help the young fellas mentally through such a unique situation.

“I'm trying to make the best out of this situation and I don't know how, but I'm going to make the best out of this situation -- if that's me gathering the guys under protocol and talking and keeping the conversations going, I'm going to do that,” Melo said. “We've never experienced anything like this before. The way I perceive this and the way that a younger player in this league will perceive it will be totally different. They may not know what to expect. They may not know how to handle this. This is going to be a stressful situation for everybody.”

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony on playing the 3 again: "Today n this game it’s positionless" 

In such a unique and challenging situation to deal with life in the bubble while also battling to make the playoffs, Anthony’s experience and leadership will be on full display in Orlando.

And there’s no doubt he’s up for the challenge. 

One way that Melo perceives the Orlando bubble is he believes it could look like the Olympic Village.

Everybody's gonna be tested mentally. Everybody will be tested emotionally. It's going to be a lot of things that's going on still while we're down there in the world that we're going to be paying attention to. So everybody is gonna have their own thing that they’re doing and messaging that they have. But, it will be almost a Olympic Village style -- all the athletes is just in one place. -- Carmelo Anthony

Obviously, the 3-time USA Basketball Male Athlete of the Year who won a bronze for Team USA at Athens in 2004 while following that up with three consecutive gold medals, knows life in the Olympic Village pretty well.

The challenges of COVID-19 protocols will make the bubble not as glamorous and fun as the Olympic Village, of course, and Melo made sure to explain just that, saying, “you're not going to have that much interaction with guys so that's the challenge.”

But what about playing in a game with no fans?

That's another big challenge. 

"We as athletes, we rely on the fans to get momentum, and that's how you make runs, and that's how you get back in the game with your fans," Melo said. "Guys is not going to have that, so you're going to be tested to see how motivated you are as an individual. How much self motivation you have to go out there and get yourself going and motivated to go play in front of no one. So you have that aspect."

The Trail Blazers veteran also explained what else he expects the bubble life to bring. 

"You just have the emotional aspect with going down there," Anthony said."Guys may not want to go down there, but we're going down and I'm sure guys gonna be thinking about that as well. No family, no this, no that. So it's so many things that's coming into play that guy’s is going to have to deal with. But I think this is going to make everything stronger, because if we don't get this right, then this puts a dent in sports in America and all over the world, because everybody is looking at the NBA to see how this is going to play out.”

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

For Melo, though, he had questioned returning to play with the Blazers this summer in the Orlando bubble.

Despite his concerns, it’s because of his love for the game that he was ready to resume play.

“Basketball at the end of the day, wanting to play, wanting to get back on the court -- that's my personal motivation. So that is kind of what I've been, not forcing myself, but challenging myself to think that way, as opposed to thinking about all the negatives and the questions about going to a situation like that.” 

The future hall of famer also mentioned that it wasn’t as if he was against playing, but he added, “just like everybody else, I’ve had my concerns… Early I had questions before I was getting information, I had a lot of questions.”

As a human there’s still tons of concerns… The unknown of how this is going to play out. The pressures of this working… Everybody has concerns about what’s going to happen. How everything is going to transpire because we just don’t know what’s going to happen.  -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony.

The risk, the reward, the use of players’ platforms, and everything in between will be part of life in the bubble.

That life gets underway for Melo and the Blazers starting Thursday.

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

Paul Allen would do anything to watch the Trail Blazers

Paul Allen would do anything to watch the Trail Blazers

Paul Allen purchased the Portland Trail Blazers in 1988 and for three decades the Microsoft co-founder lived a sports fan's dream. 

Allen wasn't a business mogul that happened to buy a sports franchise. No, he was a hardcore sports fan that happened to have enough money to live every fanboy's dream and purchase a team of his own. 

From the jump, it was evident that Allen was a Trail Blazers fan at heart. 

One man that worked for Paul Allen for 20 plus years can tell you. 

Jeff Curtin, the Trail Blazers Director of Broadcasting, started with the Blazers in the mid-90s and worked closely with Allen until the owner's death in 2018. 

Curtin joined the Sports Business Radio Podcast this week where he and host Brian Berger shared some stories about the late Trail Blazers owner.

Berger is a former Blazers employee himself, starting as an intern in the early 90's, where he recalls one of his main jobs was making sure Allen could watch the games.

"I definitely remember that was part of my job as an intern with the Blazers," said Berger. "So this is back in 1992... one of my jobs was to call Paul Allen, the late Paul Allen the owner of the Blazers, and give him the satellite coordinates, wherever he was in the world, for the game that night.  I was always surprised... A lot of times I'd think someone that works for him was going to answer the phone and pass along the coordinates to Paul Allen, but it was Paul Allen who answered the phone. He was thrilled to get the coordinates... He loved the Blazers. He traveled all over the world. He'd be at the bottom of the ocean in his submarine and he still wanted to watch Blazer games."

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

Now, I don't know if you can really get a satellite feed in the depths of the ocean, but the metaphor still rings true for Allen. 

Curtin even recalled one time where he and the team had to go through great lengths just to make sure Allen had a feed to watch while he was in the middle of Africa.

He wanted to watch every game. He didn't live in Portland, but wherever he was in the world, he wanted to see it. I remember... our engineers booking satellite time and satellite trucks, and technology to get him the games and then sending him the satellite coordinates... He was all over the world. He was in Africa and we had to get him the satellite feed. I know Mike, our engineer, had multiple challenges on getting something local there to receive the signal. The passion of being able to watch your favorite team was fantastic. He provided us a lot of resources. - Jeff Curtin, Trail Blazers Director of Broadcasting  

That's right, even halfway across the world, Allen wanted to make sure he could watch his favorite team. 

It's little stories like this that make you really appreciate how lucky Rip City was to have Allen. 

Rip City will always love you, Mr. Allen.  

Listen to Jeff Curtin's entire interview with Sports Business Radio below.

 

What an NBA game from Orlando will look like for Blazers Broadcasting

What an NBA game from Orlando will look like for Blazers Broadcasting

NBA players are just weeks away from hitting the court and bringing fans the first live game action in nearly four months! 

Teams are slowly starting to trickle into Orlando and what has been dubbed "The NBA Bubble," for mini-training camps and acclimation to the new normal playing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Trail Blazers and select personnel board a plane to fly across the country, they will be leaving an important part of the traveling entourage behind: The broadcast team. 

Blazers Broadcasting, the crew tasked with filming and presenting the games, will remain in Portland and produce the broadcasts remotely. 

It's something the broadcast team has never had to do before, and Trail Blazers Director of Broadcasting Jeff Curtin knows that. 

"It's something new for my team and myself," said Curtin in an interview on the Sports Business Radio Podcast. "We've never done this before. We have, obviously. a lot of concerns...I think the NBA's set up a great plan for all the teams and the RSNs and the broadcasters. But, yeah, it's really new territory."

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

Curtin and his team have just a little more than three weeks to work out the kinks and get ready to sail uncharted waters. 

Just think of the normal things you take for granted during a broadcast that you won't have with the Orlando bubble. There will be no Brooke Olzendam cut-ins. No halftime coaches interviews. No interaction between Jordan Kent and Lamar Hurd, and the coaches and players on the bench. Curtin won't even have full control of all the cameras in the arenas. It will be an entirely new production and viewing experience. 

On the TV side, they're gonna get us a feed that's clean, with no graphics. They've also actually allowed each team to have a local camera operator there that we'll be able to be on headset with. So, I will be able to be having one camera person that I can help focus on our stories of the Trail Blazers. Then this world feed will come back to our studios, we'll insert the graphics and announcers, and no one will be on site. The challenge, at least for the TV, is we're limited to what the director and producer on-site is kind of telling for the story; what shots they're getting, what replays they're doing. We're just kind of following along. - Jeff Curtin, Trail Blazers Director of Broadcasting

On the plus side, as Curtin noted, he will be able to be in the ear of one designated camera operator in the arena. For the entertainment of Blazers fans, hopefully he makes sure that camera is fixated on the Blazers bench so we get those classic bench reactions!

But in all seriousness, with the broadcast team having to use the generic feed, it will be like no broadcast we are have ever seen. 

In fact, Curtin is looking at all avenues to help create a truly Blazer-centric experience. The idea has been floated that perhaps Olzendam can do her normal pregame interviews via Zoom and have them incorporated into the broadcast, and social media could play a larger role than ever. 

Teams going to Orlando are allowed to send one social media representative, and for Portland, that duty falls on social media master Amara Baptist. Baptist has long been at the helm of some on the most successful and entertaining social media accounts around the league, but now that expertise could help bolster the in-game broadcast. 

"Amara travels with us, so she's well experienced at this, and she'll be our only representative to help get some stories and images, videos potentially," said Curtin. "We're not sure exactly what kind of access she's gonna be able to get, but we're definitely counting on her to provide us some great content for TV and radio."

Using Baptist's social media content to help create the scene for the viewer could be paramount. With no sideline reporters, no control of all the cameras in the arena, no locker-room interviews, shootaround availabilities, etc., finding and telling the Trail Blazers story becomes harder for Curtin and his team. It's something the veteran broadcaster wants to make sure he doesn't lose on game day. 

Again, it's those stories we're really gonna miss. I think everyone can kind of understand that not having your announcers their, or having your courtside reporter there, just for conversations with players, team coaches... we're just not gonna have and it's really gonna be challenging. -  Jeff Curtin, Trail Blazers Director of Broadcasting

It won't be just the TV side of things that has to adjust. Radio play-by-play voice Travis Demers and his broadcast partner Michael Holton will also be broadcasting the game remotely from inside Moda Center. 

"On the radio side, we'll just get an audio feed and our radio broadcasters will be in Portland calling it off a monitor with a couple different monitors in front of them, some laptops with stats and information provided by the NBA as well on the courtside app," Curtin told Sports Business Radio. However, there will be a fun little catch for the radio duo. Rather than do the broadcast from a studio, they will be calling the game from their normal radio position inside an empty Moda Center. 

The radio team will be in the arena, actually...at their normal position. We'll probably turn on the video board in the arena and let them call it off that.  - Jeff Curtin 

Fans understand that we are in uncharted territory, so Curtin need not worry. He has told the Blazers game-day story to Rip City for decades, and even if he has to do it remotely, Rip City can't wait to see the next one he puts over the airwaves. 

Listen to Jeff Curtin's entire interview with Sports Business Radio below.

Carmelo Anthony on playing the 3 again: "Today in this game it’s positionless"

Carmelo Anthony on playing the 3 again: "Today in this game it’s positionless"

This is what we’ve learned so far from talking with players over the past week following their individual workouts:

The Trail Blazers are not concerned about which five guys are out on the floor at one time.

They know in order to have success, which ultimately means make it to the postseason in this unique bubble restart situation, they will have to do it by committee.

And this works out just fine in the current NBA.

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

Over the past few seasons, the league has gone away from true 1-5 positions of players out on the court at one time. Honestly, if a team has a solid point guard and a center the rest of the pieces will fall into place no matter their ‘true position.’

This is why the Blazers aren’t too worried that Trevor Ariza is not making the trip to Orlando to resume the 2019-20 season.

That doesn’t mean they won’t miss his perimeter defense, his veteran leadership, and his consistent three, but right now the Blazers are dialed in on their current roster makeup and that’s it.  

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

Shooting guard CJ McCollum even said this week that he could see some minutes at small forward.

Tuesday, Carmelo Anthony, who will presumably start in Ariza’s place at the three, discussed how he sees his role changing, moving from the four to the three.

The three is where he made his bread and butter, so as one would imagine he’s ready for it.

Yeah, well, the good thing is that I get to go back to my original position which is playing at the three where I'm actually very comfortable at. I've been doing that my whole life. Just over the past couple years is where I started moving, transitioning towards playing the four more. We've got teams that is going small, so… That was to my advantage as well, but I think today in this game it’s positionless. There's no positions, no more today. So it doesn't matter when people put an emphasis on you're playing the three or you're playing the four, we out there playing at the end of the day. The schemes are going to be the same. We're going to figure it out. -- Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony

Despite Melo and the Blazers confidence to fill in the missing piece of Ariza, that doesn’t mean this team won’t feel that void.

“As far as missing Trevor, hell yeah, we’re going to miss Trevor. Especially in this time because this is where his veteranship and his leadership would have come into play… Experience plays a big part in what we're trying to accomplish here. So we're going to miss him from that standpoint.”

With Portland losing Ariza, but gaining a healthy Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic that has been a big topic of conversation.

Adding two healthy 7-footers to the roster is always helpful.

[RELATED]: In Carmelo Anthony's own words, what this season in Portland has been like

Plus, Melo reiterated that as long as the Blazers have one center on the court the rest of the pieces don’t have to be a typical looking starting lineup. 

“As far as position skills, it's no more positions in the NBA no more at all. You just go out there, put your five out there to go and see what happens.” 

Plus, the rotation will look more like playoff basketball as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has discussed he will most likely play eight players.  

That playoff mentality is what Anthony, as a 17-year veteran, is looking to instill in this Trail Blazers team.

The way that I'm approaching it and I'm trying to get everybody else on our team to approach it this way is -- we gotta go right out of the gate. We don't have time to get loose, and get ready, and give away the first two games, like -- No,  we got to have a great camp, we’ve got to have a great three weeks… two and a half weeks or whatever down in Orlando. And that first game -- we have to go. We’ve got to be ready to go. There's no waiting, laying back, and seeing. We got to have our plan. We got to have a clear-cut plan and we have to be ready to attack straight out the gate. -- Carmelo Anthony

Melo also mentioned that he and his teammates have focused on various keys to winning games in Orlando, which includes knowing the sets, communication, and trusting each other on both ends of the court.

Positions don’t need to be the focus for the Blazers even if that is the focus in storylines heading into the resumption of the season.   

Damian Lillard, Nassir Little sound off on WNBA ‘bubble’ disturbing accommodations

Damian Lillard, Nassir Little sound off on WNBA ‘bubble’ disturbing accommodations

We are finally just three weeks away from the NBA season resuming at the Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida.

Meanwhile, the WNBA will also begin the 2020 season at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, starting on July 24. 

However, the accommodations in the WNBA ‘bubble’ are certainly questionable.

On Monday, a video surfaced on social media sharing one of the laundry rooms available to WNBA players that features a mousetrap and plenty of mold and rust.

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

On Tuesday, another video showed one of the meals served to the players which… doesn’t look appetizing. 

It’s pretty sad to think about the differences in accommodations between the NBA and WNBA in general, but let’s just narrow in on the conditions at each ‘campus’ this month. 

It’s considerably less than what NBA players are being treated like. — Stephen A. Smith on First Take

Seattle Storm’s Jewell Lloyd gave fans a glimpse and threw some shade at the WNBA on her Instagram story:

It’s a problem to say the least and one that should have been figured out a loooooong time ago.

But, a somewhat light at the end of the tunnel, the IMG Executive VP of Events said he’s working currently to address and relieve all issues.

And, it is nice to see NBA players, like Dame and Nas, showing support for the WNBA.

Let’s hope the season will begin on a better foot.

Portland Fire Part 3: The era didn't last long, but it's time to bring the Fire back

Portland Fire Part 3: The era didn't last long, but it's time to bring the Fire back

Over the past few months here at NBCSNW, we have interviewed former Portland Fire players as well as people who worked for the organization.

It is hard to believe that this summer of 2020 would’ve marked the 20th Anniversary of the Fire’s WNBA inaugural season.

And as a Fire fan myself, it’s even more hard to believe that there are young basketball fans out there who didn’t realize that Portland had a WNBA team.

When the Fire joined the Women's National Basketball Association in 2000 as the counterpart to the Portland Trail Blazers, they played all of their home games at the Rose Garden.

The team folded; however, after just three seasons in the league.

There was no lead up to the team's dismantling. There were no rumors or rumblings. It was a surprise to all involved.

But, the biggest takeaway from talking with the people who worked behind the scenes was that the WNBA fan support in Portland wasn’t lacking.

[WATCH]: Portland Fire Part 1: The appetite for women's hoops 

Fire fans were loud, proud and there were several of them.

Former guard Tully Bevilaqua reminisced about the fan support in the Rose City. 

“The sporting community was, I mean, you had obviously the Blazers -- they were very popular in town. So, there was a passion for it and we became a part of the community,” Bevilaqua said. “It was a great town and obviously you’ve got the Nike campus there as well, so I mean that was huge just the passion for sports in the city was… You could feel it. You could feel it in the air… When you run through the tunnel, and you hear the screams… the hairs on the back of your neck start standing up just thinking about it again.”

As for Portland Fire fan favorite Jackie Stiles, she was in awe of the fan support.

It was phenomenal. Oh my gosh, the Rose Garden -- what amazing, amazing environment and facility. And our fans in Portland were great. I know I’m bias, but I felt like we had the best fans in the league. We really drew pretty well and I think we were towards the top in attendance, or I felt that way anyway. Maybe there were just louder, but I loved our fans. They were incredible. -- Jackie Stiles on the Portland Fire fan base

From an outsider looking in, it was easy to make the assumption that the Fire didn’t have 'good enough' attendance during its three seasons in the WNBA.

That is what President of the WNBA at the time Val Ackerman recalls. She believed that Portland still needed more support and more people buying tickets.

But, she was the only one that felt that way in the group of eight people we interviewed for this mini-documentary series. 

Fire general manager and head coach Linda Hargrove, plus the players and front office employees didn't know the team was folding until it actually happened.  

The 2002 season had already ended and since it was the Fire’s swan song season without anyone actually knowing that at the time, there was no chance for goodbyes. That was difficult for the players and staff.  

[WATCH]: Portland Fire Part 2: How Jackie Stiles sparked the Fire

After talking with numerous people in and around the organization, it’s clear that there were many factors on why the Portland Fire couldn’t be saved:

Many people don’t think about how much the events of 9/11 and the 2000 “dot com bubble” played a role.

And then, there’s the hard fact that the team folded because ultimately it was a business decision for Fire and Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

In October of 2002, the NBA Board of Governors voted to restructure the WNBA to allow for change in ownership. The vote allowed individual team ownership that didn’t have to be supported by an NBA team. Teams could also be located in non-NBA markets.

The Fire did have one offer on the table.

A group led by former Trail Blazer Clyde Drexler and longtime Portland area businessman Terry Emmert attempted to buy the franchise.

No deal was ever made and not much was ever said about the offer.

There were rumblings that despite the offer to buy the team, the potential new ownership group still wanted plenty of backing and support from the Blazers.

But now as the love for women’s sports continues to grow in the Northwest from the love for the Portland Thorns to the Seattle Storm’s continued to success, not to mention the stardom of former Oregon Ducks guard Sabrina Ionescu, this would be a great time to bring back the WNBA to Portland.

So, now is it time to start the 'Bring Back the Fire' documentary?

Let’s get that started!  

You can check out Part 3 of the Portland Fire mini-documentary series right here

In Carmelo Anthony's own words, what this season in Portland has been like

In Carmelo Anthony's own words, what this season in Portland has been like

The last few months have been unlike anything most Americans have ever experienced. A lot of bad stuff has gone down. So many things that we will remember for the rest of our lives.

It’s hard to imagine what it’s been like for the Trail Blazers’ Carmelo Anthony. Rescued from the Land of Castaways, Anthony signed on in Portland Nov. 19, after injuries began to decimate the Blazers’ front court. He hadn’t appeared in an NBA game since Nov. 8, 2018.

What will this man, who will someday be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame, remember about this season with the Portland Trail Blazers?

In his own words, as he prepares to embark on his team’s journey to Orlando to complete the longest season in NBA history, is Melo’s summation:

“It’s not what I’m going to remember,” he said Tuesday during an Internet media conference, “it’s what I’m NOT going to remember about this season.

“Honestly, this year has been a rollercoaster. Especially for me, personally. Being away, for a year and change, from the game. To see the game, to get away from the game, to kind of build myself up from a mental standpoint, emotional standpoint, get over that -- coming to Portland with the unknown of what’s going to happen, but taking a chance.

“Moving to a place... I had no idea of what Portland was, other than going to the Nike campus, at one point. And it being wine country, that was the only thing I knew about Portland.

“Being able to do that, and then playing, and the joy of coming back, the excitement and then to lose my brother Kobe (Bryant) in the same year, dealing with that emotional rollercoaster.

“Then fast forward to the coronavirus, it’s been a very rocky, up-and-down, weird season, emotionally. But this is a season I will never forget, because it almost jump-started something for me.

“Not just from a basketball standpoint, but from an overall standpoint. I was able to take what I experienced and learned and figured out in that time off, and apply that not just to basketball, but to life.

“And that’s where I'm at right now.”

Pau Gasol spends heartfelt birthday with the Bryant family

Pau Gasol spends heartfelt birthday with the Bryant family

On his 40th birthday, Pau Gasol celebrated in the most fitting and heartwarming way possible: with Kobe Bryant’s family.

The Gasol-Bryant duo tore up the league with the Los Angeles Lakers from 2008-2014 which included back-to-back NBA Championships in 2009 and 2010. Gasol also was a three-time All-Star with the Lakers from 2008-2010.

During their reign of terror, the two developed quite the friendship off the court.

Once you slowly get over the void and the sadness and the pain you start looking at what he has left us. He was a guy who gave his best to whatever he did. He didn’t accept failure. He worked the hardest to be the best at what he did. You can see how now – after basketball, after his career – he was sharing all those values, all that knowledge to inspire the younger generations. To share the messages of ‘be the best that you can be’. ‘Dedicate yourself to your craft’. If you are going to do something, do it to the best of your ability. — Gasol said about Bryant’s legacy in a video by the NBPA (National Basketball Players Association).

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

Here are some photos taken from Vanessa Bryant’s Instagram on Monday, July 6:

The Portland Trail Blazers signed the future Hall of Fame center to a one-year contract back on July 24, 2019. For his career, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2001 NBA draft holds averages of 17.0 points and 9.2 rebounds. At the time of the signing, the Blazers were looking to fill the depth behind Jusuf Nurkic, who suffered a gruesome foot injury in March 2019.

Unfortunately, Gasol was also recovering and rehabbing an injury that kept him on the sidelines and never took the court in a Trail Blazers uniform.

[RELATED]: Pow! The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it even started

While the 40-year-old hasn’t officially retired, Gasol hasn’t ruled out a return to the Lakers or playing for Spain in the future.

Meyers Leonard & wife Elle have started a podcast and you're going to want to listen

Meyers Leonard & wife Elle have started a podcast and you're going to want to listen

During this time of quarantine and social distancing, there is a lot more free time throughout the day to read books, catch up on shows, listen to podcasts, etc.

If you are looking for a new podcast to subscribe to, we cannot recommend this one enough.

Former Portland Trail Blazers Meyers Leonard and his wife Elle have started their own podcast called Pivot Point. The two share thoughts and stories about what matters most.

Currently, the duo have dropped three episodes so far.

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

Episode 01: The Importance Of Being More Than One Thing

In their first episode of The Pivot Point, Meyers and Elle discuss the importance of “never being just one thing.” They reveal how they have discovered and embraced each of their individual hyphens. The episode concludes with the inspiration and meaning behind the name of this podcast, The Pivot Point. 

Pivot Point represents a fundamental shift in a narrative. We have as individuals and as a couple taken time in our story to stop and say ‘is this the direction we need to continue’ and alter that direction which were key insights in our lives and some of the most valuable experiences we’ve ever had. — Elle Leonard

Episode 02: The Power of Choice

Living in a very usual time with COVID-19 sweeping the nation, Meyers and Elle Leonard discuss the “Power of Choice” and how making conscious decisions to daily activities completely shifts one’s perspective. The episode concludes with a never-before-told story about a time when Meyers disappeared for 24 hours. 

It’s this shift in perspective. We are choosing to individually be away from our routine and our people to make us all collectively better. And when you have the decision to change, grow, be challenged, that’s when you feel empowered. That’s when you can take ownership in whatever situation you’re thrown into. — Elle Leonard

Meyers and Elle also recommend a book that the two couldn’t put down.

‘The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari’ is a self-help book by Robin Sharma, a writer and motivational speaker.

Episode 03: 2020 Vision & Actions Towards Equality

In preparation for the new year, we heard a lot of talk about the “20/20 Vision” that this year would bring. While it is safe to say that 2020 hasn’t been what we expected, Meyers and Elle question if it has, in fact, fulfilled exactly what we intended. Has this year given us clarity on what is most important? Has it forced us to step back and see our typical actions different? Meyers and Elle discuss the major events of 2020 such as Kobe’s death, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement. The podcast ends with a candid conversation about how important it is to take action in our nation’s fight against systemic racism.

The two also share a TED Talk from Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff: How We Can Male Racism a Solvable Problem - And Improve Policing

Click here to subscribe and listen to more on the Pivot Point podcast.