TUALATIN – When the Portland Trail Blazers held their introductory news conference for their sole draftee Nassir Little on Monday morning, Blazers general manager greeted the media alongside two special guests.
“Just want to welcome first, Nassir’s mom, April and his sister, Kamaria," Olshey said. "We were lucky enough to have them join us."
With his family in attendance, the North Carolina forward fielded questions from the local media.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Little said. “Just for me, just foremost, being in the NBA itself, and then for me looking at the roster, I think I have a real opportunity to come in right away and I’d be able to contribute and make another playoff run.”
There’s no doubt Little can make an impact as a rookie. "Ball handling" tops his list of areas to work on as he begins his NBA career.
The last few days for Little and his family has been a whirlwind.
“This is the point when you’re filled with hope," Little said. "You’re just so ready to, you know, play that first game, just kind of get situated here. You’re excited to be in a new city. So, it’s just been exciting. I’m just trying to embrace it."
As for Little’s first impressions of Portland, he said with a smile, “the people are really nice out here. Everybody’s like, ‘welcome to Portland, welcome to Portland!’ I’m from Florida and people are nice there, but it’s not like this.”
Both of Little’s parents have military backgrounds; yet Little was quick squash the generalization and assumptions about growing up with military parents.
“It’s not like what people think, Little said. “I wasn’t up at four in the morning with the bed made and all that type of stuff. No, they just kind of let us be kids for the most part. It was nothing really crazy like most people expect.”
Nassir’s father, Harold, played a major role in getting the 19-year-old to this point. Little said he couldn’t even begin to list all of the sacrifice his parents made for him.
“They’ve done a lot from taking me to the gym everyday, taking me to practice, helping me eat the right stuff, they’ve done so much… They’ve been a huge part, they played a key part in helping me get here,” Little said.
Little did have the typical military upbringing as far as moving around. He lived in Hawaii, Virginia, England “for a little bit,” and Washington D.C.
At Orlando Christian Prep high school in Orlando, Florida, Little was committed to waking up at 4:40 a.m. for his morning workout before school. His day would consist of schooling and/or a second workout along with basketball practice. He did this workout routine for two years.
“I’m a perfectionist," Little said. "I want to be as good as I possible when I put my time into it. Basketball’s fun when you’re good at it."
In his recent move to Portland, Little already has a friend here in Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons.
“It’s cool,” Little said of his friendship with Simons and already knowing a player on the roster. “It provides a sense of comfort. A guy I’m familiar with, a guy I played in high school with, and I think it’s just cool to see two guys from the same city kind of do big things and be in the same place.”
April has already posted on her social media how thankful she is that the Trail Blazers are taking a chance on her son.
On Monday morning, April got a glimpse at the Trail Blazers true brotherhood.
Sitting in the front row of the Trail Blazers media theater was Trail Blazers center Zach Collins, just three chairs down from April. Along the wall on the right side of the theater stood shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. and Blazers assistant coaches Jim Moran and Nate Tibbetts.
“CJ hit me up on Twitter. And, I just met all these guys over here today, so they’ve all been really welcoming and making me feel really a part of the team already,” Little said.
The 19-year-old laughed when Olshey called out Trent Jr. for tweeting at Little about how “Duke will always be the better blue.”
And there in lies a true brotherhood, if a North Carolina and a Duke basketball player can become brothers that shows the genuine camaraderie this Trail Blazers roster has had and continues to have. It shows how the Blazers organization values high character players.
After the news conference was finished and the pictures of Little holding up his No. 9 Trail Blazers jersey with Olshey by his side were taken, Collins and Trent Jr. made their way over to introduce themselves to Little’s mother and sister.
That’s the high character that goes along way in the locker room and ultimately helps the chemistry on court.
That’s the Trail Blazers brotherhood at its finest.