Trail Blazers form circle of unity during anthem protest

Trail Blazers form circle of unity during anthem protest

The Trail Blazers on Sunday for the National Anthem huddled in a circle with their arms around each other in what Damian Lillard said was in conjunction with other professional athletes’ civil rights protest in this country.

“I’m a proud American, but the reason behind the protesting, I share that same belief,’’ Lillard said. “I share the same feeling, being an African American. Obviously, every other guy on the team shares that belief as well.’’

Lillard said the Blazers will continue to huddle during future National Anthems, beginning with Monday’s exhibition opener against Utah at the Moda Center.

The movement was started by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has knelt during the National Anthem since the NFL preseason in protest of African Americans being killed by police officers. He has since been joined by other NFL players and WNBA players.

The Blazers have traditionally lined up about 15 feet from the baseline, extending from sideline to sideline. But on Sunday, they huddled with arms around each other in the middle of the key near the basket by their bench.

“It was showing we are together,’’ center Mason Plumlee said. “As a team we all support each other. We all come from different situations, yet we are close, and we just wanted to show that. Hopefully people in society can have the same relationships like we have on our team. We are a very close team and we are very proud of that.’’

Added Maurice Harkless: “The whole message was us being together, us as one, and being equal. Us huddling like that is a great way to display that unity and that togetherness between us, and as a whole, people in general.’’

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

It’s hard to believe the NBA season is just around the corner.

NBA training camp tips off in less than two weeks.

We have seen the various predictions of where teams are expected to land in the Western and Eastern Conference, but what about individual play?

What about the NBA’s top duos?

Bleacher Report ranked the top 10 backcourts, and they put the Trail Blazers duo of point guard Damian Lillard and shooting guard CJ McCollum at the top.

Greg Swartz, author of the article, had this to say of the star tandem:

"With no Curry and Thompson to look up to (for now), the Trail Blazers backcourt can finally stake its claim as the NBA's best.

Coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, Lillard and McCollum combined for 46.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.9 assists during the regular season while turning the ball over just 4.2 total times per game.

In six years together, Portland has never had a losing record, reaching the postseason every time.

Following a 53-win season and the third seed in the West, Lillard almost single-handedly dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise with a now-iconic shot and pose to end the first round, leading to Paul George requesting a move and a subsequent trade of Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.

In their 16 postseason games, both Lillard and McCollum proved why they deserve to be called the NBA's best. Lillard averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.7 steals and shot 37.3 percent from deep on nearly 10 attempts per game. McCollum was right behind with 24.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and he drilled 39.3 percent of his three-pointers."

Coming in second on the Bleacher Report list is Golden State Warrior’s Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell. (That’ll take some getting used to).

Houston's new backcourt of James Harden and Russell Westbrook came in at No. 3.

Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in Utah ranked No. 4.

Denver's Jamal Murray and Gary Harris round out the Top 5.

Read more here.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

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USA Today Images

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Hassan Niam Whiteside

BIRTHDAY: June 13th, 1989

AGE: 30

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Whiteside played college ball at Marshall University, where he was a Conference USA Freshman of the year and Second-team All-Conference USA.

Fun Facts

If Whiteside wasn’t a basketball player, he told the Miami Heat, he would be a NASCAR driver.

Math was his favorite subject in school.

His first big purchase as an NBA player was a 2010 Escalade.

Football Father

Whiteside’s parents are Hasson Arbubakrr and Debbie Whiteside. His father played in the NFL from 1983 to 1984 for the Vikings and the Buccaneers.

Pushing Through Adversity

To say Whiteside has bounced around, and in and out of the league, would be an understatement.

After the Sacramento Kings selected him as the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 draft and later waived him, Whiteside floated through the D-League and overseas.

He made a stop in Lebanon in 2013, but just two games in, his teammates started a fight with the opposing team and the season was canceled. So Whiteside went to the Chinese NBL.

Here’s a quick look at the various teams Whiteside has played for at one time or another:

2012–13    Sioux Falls Skyforce

2013           Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2013           Amchit Club

2013           Sichuan Blue Whales

2013–14   Al Mouttahed Tripoli

2014           Jiangsu Tongxi

2014           Iowa Energy

2014–19   Miami Heat

2014          Sioux Falls Skyforce

Quickly Becoming A Portlander

Just days after the reports came out that Whiteside was signing with the Portland Trail Blazers; Whiteside started giving back to his new community.

In a series of videos shared on Instagram, Whiteside was seen handing out Voodoo doughnuts to people on the streets, while shouting, “Go Portland, Go Blazers! We got shooters!”

"You get some Voodoo Doughnuts. I got like three dozen," Whiteside said. "Giving them out to the city! We giving them out to the city, man. We sharing love, man. More love, man. We don't do the hate, my man. Less hate, man.”

Love For Koi Fish

In an interview with The Ringer back in October of 2018, Whiteside shared more about his personal life.  

A big part of his everyday life is his fishpond. It’s easy to see Whiteside’s love of fish, particularly Koi fish from reading the article.

Here is an excerpt from The Ringer article by Haley O’Shaughnessy:

We’re crouched down in his front yard in Miami Beach, sweating into a pond of 40 koi fish. “Come here, OGs,” Whiteside says, touching the water. Like him, they’re strikingly oversized, a group of orange and black and white koi all longer than my forearm. His Snapchat followers (who he also talks to, several times a day) know them well. “They’re more famous than me, man,” he says, wiping water off on his worn-in brown tank top. Whiteside’s been in Miami since the Heat signed him in November 2014, but his drawl—the kind that acts as a thickening agent for vowels and turns “man” from one syllable to two—comes from Gastonia, North Carolina, his hometown.

All 40 fish have a name. Whiteside names everything: The planter in the backyard (Man of Ultimate Wisdom), the bust made of Canadian pennies in the living room. Every name has an explanation, and every explanation has deeper meaning. Which he shares with me, one by one. (The bust is Penny. Name. Sure, a penny itself is worthless, but thousands of pennies together aren’t, especially the Canadian penny, because it’s discontinued. Explanation. Isn’t that beautiful? And, Whiteside smiles, what’s more beautiful than the human body? Meaning. Deep.)

So yes, to answer my question, the fish are individuals. Together he calls them the OGs. He knows what I’m thinking, but it’s short for Old Guys. “They can live to be 140. Don’t matter how much shit they swim through,” Whiteside explains as we walk the stairs of his all-white waterfront home, “they keep swimming.”

Throwback To A Day In The Life Of Hassan Whiteside

Seven years ago, the Sacramento Kings posted a video to their Youtube page as they followed Whiteside around for a day.

From breakfast to working out at the Kings practice facility to figuring out what goes in his protein shake to taking a tour through his condo to getting a haircut to checking out a fish store for his growing aquarium – it was an all-access look.

Check out Whiteside's routine in Sacramento with this throwback video:

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

The Trail Blazers start their training camp in just a few weeks. That means the NBA season is right around the corner and so is the end of summer. Speaking of "End of Summer," that's the names of the latest freestyle track dropped by Dame D.O.L.L.A, aka Damian Lillard for you basketball fans. 

Earlier this summer D.O.L.L.A released "Big D.O.L.L.A," his third album and the follow-up to 2017's "Confirmed." The track "End of Summer" just adds to a near endless list of impressive lyrical endeavors for the Trail Blazers star point guard. If you haven't heard it, you can listen to it below. 

If social media is to believed (and it is), fans loved D.O.L.L.A.'s latest track:

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little heard the track and only had one question for his new teammate:

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Nassir Little…. Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Nassir Little…. Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Nassir Shamai Little

BIRTHDAY: February 11th, 2000

AGE: 19

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Aquarius

Before Fame

Little hails from Orange Park, Florida, where he went to Orlando Christian Prep for High School.

Fun Facts

Little’s favorite food is Hibachi. On a Tar Heels social media Q & A last year, Little told UNC fans, “give me some Hibachi with some white sauce… that’s my go to.”

One of his hobbies is playing the piano.

Academics Played A Key Role

Little was the salutatorian of his senior class in High School and member of the National Honor Society.

Military Strong

Little is the son of Harold and April, who both served in the U.S. military.

In January of this year, sports editor Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of the Daily Tar Heel sat down with Little to talk about various on and off the court topics, including what it was like growing up with both of his parent having military backgrounds.

Interview Question: How did having military background parents sort of help you in staying disciplined because I know you're not just a great basketball player, you're a great student. You were the salutatorian of your high school, so how did they help you with that?

Little’s Answer: Growing up, I feel like, they did a lot of work as a child. They’re not really strict. People think, ‘You have military parents and they’re like sit up straight all the time,’ for me it wasn’t really like that it was just kind of like, just being courteous and being conscious and as I got older in middle school, I had a rough year academically. But my parents were never the type to like, get mad at me about it because it wasn’t nothing that they taught me, like it’s not their grades, so I looked at myself in the mirror and I guess it’s just something in me, and I looked at myself and I said, ‘I want to do better.’ So I told myself that I’m going to do good for the rest of my high school, middle school, whatever career. Ever since that year, I started grinding, doing better in the classroom and I’ve been good ever since.

Subway Is About To Have A Big-Time Customer

Days ahead of the 2019 NBA draft, TMZ Sports caught up with Little before he was about to get on a flight out of Washington DC.

Little was nice enough to answer a number of random questions in the airport. He showed off his sense of humor when he was asked about what he plans on buying once he signs that first NBA contract.

Spoiler alert: He is about to “Eat Fresh” A LOT.

Instagram King

As a freshman in college, Little proved he can interact with fans and show his personality with the best of them.

UNC Fans were treated to a “get to know freshman Nassir Little in this exclusive, fan-submitted Q&A on UNC Basketball’s Instagram.”

Some of the IG questions included, why did he cut his hair, does he have good enough dance moves, and why he chose North Carolina.

Fans also found out that Little’s pregame playlist is all about Drake -- “Anything by Drake is fire.”

Get to know more about Little off the court right here with the Tar Heel Q & A:

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler rocks Damian Lillard jersey

Over the weekend, Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler showed his respect for Damian Lillard.

Butler arrived at Sunday’s home game vs. the Colts wearing a Lillard-Trail Blazers statement jersey.

Erik Bacharach of The Tennessean shared the video on social media.

Monday morning, Lillard showed his gratitude on Twitter.

Could we see Butler at the Moda Center this upcoming season rooting on Lillard and the Blazers? You would think he would want to rock the jersey in Rip City.  

Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Lillard Time magic on Sunday as the Titans fell to the Colts, 19-17.

Blazers announce more details about 50th anniversary celebration

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USA Today

Blazers announce more details about 50th anniversary celebration

Trail Blazers fans have long been anticipating the start of the 50th season of their beloved franchise. It was announced over the summer that the team would turn back the clock and play a preseason game in Veteran Memorial Coliseum (VMC), they also announced special Decade Nights to be celebrated throughout the regular season. 

On Monday the Blazers dropped some more info on these special events:

  • The preseason game at VMC will feature members of the original team including Geoff Petrie, Rollan Todd, Jim Barnett, Shaler Halimon, and Bill Schonely in attendance. 
  • Rose Quater Commons will feature outdoor activities for fans to enjoy prior to the game, as well as special throwback photo opportunities throughout the concourse. Exclusive retail items will also be available.
  • The team will also have special decades nights to celebrate the '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, and '10s.
  • Every decade night will feature Trail Blazers alumni from the respective era. 
  • A special decade themed poster will be given to fans in attendance, and special themed retail items will be available for purchase. 
  • The team will wear the special Classic Edition uniforms during the decade night games. 

 

You don't want to miss this! To purchase tickets head to TrailBlazers.com

 

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Jaylen Hoard…. Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Jaylen Hoard…. Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Jaylen Hoard

BIRTHDAY: March 30th, 1999

AGE: 20

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Aries

Before Fame

Hoard was born in Le Havre, France.

He played for the club Centre Fédéral de Basketball before moving to the U.S. for high school to play basketball for Wesleyan Christian Academy in High Point, North Carolina.

Fun Fact

Hoard’s Godmother, Edwige Lawson-Wade, played in the WNBA and was a member of France's 2012 Olympic Silver Medal team.

It runs in the family

Hoard’s father, Antwon Hoard, played basketball in France's LNB Pro A league. His mother, Katia Foucade, played college basketball at Washington and also played for the French national team.

His younger sister Anaia, who is one of four siblings, has played for France's under-17 team.

A Connection to Chief

Jaylen Hoard is just the third five-star recruit in program history for the Demon Deacons after Chris Paul and former Trail Blazer Al-Farouq Aminu who also played in Winston-Salem.

No Stranger To Portland

Hoard has yet to put on a Blazers jersey, but it is very familiar with PDX. He played in the 2018 Nike Hoop Summit at Moda Center. He also got accustomed to the Trail Blazers practice facility.

Check out a full interview of Jaylen Hoard from the Hoop Summit via Jonathan Givony and Matt McGann of Draft Express:

Taking Responsibility

Even as a freshman in college, Hoard was making sure to take ownership of his team’s mistakes.

According to the Winston-Salem Journal, after a 65-61 loss to Boston College in late January this year, Hoard was taking responsibility.

“We have to be accountable,” Hoard said. “We need to make sure when we’re making a mistake, we’re not pointing fingers. We have to really own up to our mistakes and actually like, work to fix them, not just talk about it, not just say, ‘Oh, we’re going to do better’ in everything, we actually have to do it.

Hoard had 22 points and 10 rebounds and was the only Deacon in double-figure scoring in the loss.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Mario Hezonja… Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Mario Hezonja… Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Mario Hezonja

BIRTHDAY: February 25th, 1995

AGE: 24

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Pisces

Before Fame

Hezonja began playing basketball for Dubrovnik at the age of 13. He later signed with the Croatian team Zagreb, with whom he won the Euroleague Basketball Nike International Junior Tournament.

Fun Fact

The number one song on Billboard 100 was "Take A Bow" by Madonna the day Hezonja was born.

Nicknames

‘The Beast’

‘Super Mario’

No Thanks To College Offer

Hezonja had a scholarship offer from Coach John Calipari to play at Kentucky. Could you imagine what Kentucky’s team would’ve been like with the addition of Hezonja during the 2014-15 season? He would have been paired with Karl-Anthony Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker, and Trey Lyles. But, Hezonja had set his sights on the NBA.

Strong Portland Connection

As the Trail Blazers get ready for the 2019-20 season, younger Blazer fans should know –

Hezonja is going to wear No. 44 this season, a tribute to Croatian great and former Trail Blazer and Hall of Famer Drazen Petrovic.

Petrovic wore No. 44 in Portland. Drazen's brother, Aleksandar, coached Hezonja on their country’s national team.

“Obviously the greatest European player of all time,” Hezonja said during his introductory news conference with the Blazers. “It’s out of respect to him. The journey continues in his name right now. I’m glad I’m the leader of the journey right now. Carrying my entire country with it.”

Hezonja’s passing skills were modeled after Petrovic.

Just for fun here’s a throwback video to some of Petrovic’s career highlights:

The Mario GOAT Meme

Last season, Hezonja found himself on a meme that quickly went viral.

March 17th’s one-point victory over the Lakers was no ordinary game for the Knicks and for Hezonja.

The New York Knicks forward — who yes also dunked on Giannis Antetokounmpo and then stepped over the Greek Freak last December — had blocked LeBron James’ game-winner attempt in that win over the Lakers.

This photo was snapped after Hezonja committed a foul on King James earlier in the contest, so it’s not the photo of him blocking the LeBron’s game winner, however, it’s kind of a perfect summary of that night.

This is definitely a photo all Trail Blazer fans can get behind.

Best Advice As A Rookie

According to Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel, some of the best advice Hezonja received during his rookie season with the Magic came from former NBA player and a legend in the European basketball world, Peja Stojakovic.

Stojakovic offered this advice: 'Just shut up and work.'

"We talked about the transition," Hezonja said. "You know how the older guys are: 'Just shut up and work.' That's the best advice from everybody. So that's what I'm doing."