Meyers Leonard stands for national anthem, doesn't think kneeling is disrespectful

Meyers Leonard stands for national anthem, doesn't think kneeling is disrespectful

With the NBA's restart in Orlando, many players wanted to ensure that the league's return didn't do anything to stop the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

To agree to play, the NBAPA negotiated that the games will be used as platforms to promote social justice activism with phrases on jerseys, "Black Lives Matter" t-shirts, and the same slogan written on the court. 

In addition, many have begun kneeling during the national anthem in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. A gesture that began with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016. 

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers and Grizzlies kneel in solidarity of social justice pregame

However, former Portland Trail Blazer and Miami Heat center Meyers Leonard stood for the anthem while wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt ahead of the Heat's first game in Orlando, Saturday morning. 

Leonard's brother, Bailey Leonard, joined the US Marine Corp in August 2008 and served in Afghanistan at least twice. 

“Some of the conversations I’ve had over the past three days, quite literally, have been the most difficult,” Leonard told The Associated Press prior to the game. “I am with the Black Lives Matter movement and I love and support the military and my brother and the people who have fought to defend our rights in this country.”

I am a compassionate human being and I truly love all people. I can’t fully comprehend how our world, literally and figuratively, has turned into Black and white. There’s a line in the sand, so to speak: ‘If you’re not kneeling, you’re not with us.’ And that’s not true.

I will continue to use my platform, my voice and my actions to show how much I care about the African American culture and for everyone,” he added. “I live my life to serve and impact others in a positive way.

A few hours before the game, Bailey texted Meyers: “Stay true to you. Stay the course. I love you. Your family loves you. Your community loves you.”

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

One day after the game, Leonard told Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Chris Haynes that he doesn't believe that kneeling for the anthem is disrespectful, and instead called it "powerful." 

The former Trail Blazer talked with current Portland players Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony and former Blazers Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh before making his final decision, per Mark Spears of ESPN.

Meyers stood for the anthem with the support of his Miami Heat teammates, including team captain Udonis Haslem.

“[Him] being out there with us, as our brother, it’s still showing strength, it’s still showing unity, it’s still showing that we’re coming together for a common cause,” Haslem told the Associated Press. “People will question, ‘Why isn’t he doing it their way?’ Well, he’s standing by us. He’s supporting us. He’s with us.”

Andre Iguodala also respected his choice.

“On the one hand, we’re saying, ‘We want you to see things from our perspective,’” Iguodala said. “But by saying that, I also have to see things from his perspective. And I can see where he’s coming from.”

Leonard, along with his wife Ellie, pledged to donate $100,000 to a fund that will help pay fees that Floridians leaving jail must pay to vote. 

“Because I’ve listened to Udonis and am constantly inspired by him, every single one of those dollars will go to Overtown and Liberty City, where he grew up,” Leonard told the AP, referring to two of Miami’s historically Black neighborhoods. “Those two parts of Miami were most heavily impacted by COVID-19 and voter suppression.”

Meyers was the second NBA player to stand for the anthem in the NBA's restart, after Orlando Magic forward Jonathan Isaac who did so without wearing the Black Lives Matter t-shirt. Additionally, on Friday, San Antonio Spurs head coach and Air Forde graduate Gregg Popovich and assistant coach Becky Hammon stood for the anthem as well.

“I did feel a little bit of a load lifted off my shoulders when they did that,” Leonard told AP. “Each of those individuals had their own personal reasons, just as I do.”

While at Illinois, Bailey surprised Meyers four hours ahead of his home game against the Michigan Wolverines in a video that went viral. Bailey hadn't seen Meyers play in-person for over two years before that game. Later, the Big Ten Network produced a segment on the brothers. 

NBA Bubble: Meyers Leonard chugs beer, Hassan Whiteside is a captain

NBA Bubble: Meyers Leonard chugs beer, Hassan Whiteside is a captain

The NBA’s three-week training camp is underway in Orlando, Florida! And players are already losing it.

Life in the Orlando Bubble for the participating 22-teams has consisted of three-hour time slots to practice, workout, take advantage of the weight room, and get extra shots up.

But outside of team meetings and those three-hour time slots in the gym at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports on the Disney World Resort Campus, the players are keeping themselves entertained.

And by doing so, they’re keeping us all entertained.

[Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon].

This season has been chalk full of jokes, horse noises, and off the wall comments from Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside.  

It’s good to see he still has his sense of humor in the bubble.

And, we all better watch out because Whiteside is the captain now…

 

As for former Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard, who is now with the Miami Heat, he has been playing his video games per usual, but he has also shown off another skill.

Leonard posted a video of himself chugging a Coors Light beer in the bubble. Does this make him even more of a Legend now?

Well, I guess it makes Leonard the “king of the bubble.”

Apparently, the NBA competition right now is beer slamming since scrimmages don’t start for another two weeks.

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony has evolved into 'Skinny Melo’-- and he’s taking over social media

Pelicans guard JJ Redick got in on the beer-chugging action. Redick posted a video of himself shotgunning a Bud Light while sitting in an ice bath after Sunday’s practice.

Leonard also challenged his NBA colleagues to beat his time. His first challenger is Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson.

Our guess is that the beer competition will continue, as will the use of Instagram and Snapchat filters.

But, what will the NBA players do next in the Bubble?

You know we will keep you posted here at NBC Sports Northwest.

Bring on more of these social media videos! 

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.

Trail Blazers clinch 3rd spot in 2019: A crazy game, a crazy night!

Trail Blazers clinch 3rd spot in 2019: A crazy game, a crazy night!

It was the 19-year-old Anfernee Simons who led Portland to a thrilling 136-131 comeback win over the Kings after the Trail Blazers were down by as many as 28 points in the second quarter in the last regular season game of 2019.

This game was not only wild all on its own, it also had crazy playoff implications.

Christian, you could make a lot of money on this game…

With homecourt advantage already clinched for Portland, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts rested his starters and played guys who rarely saw major minutes.

It was also Fan Appreciation night as Trail Blazers fans were able to get a glimpse at the future.

During the starting lineup introductions, fans gave the Blazers rookies the most love with the loudest applause.

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

So, just to jog your memory: Because Portland defeated Sacramento in this game on April 10, 2019 and then Denver also beat Minnesota that night, the Trail Blazers then finished the season as the third seed and thus faced the six-seeded Thunder.  (The rest is history with that waving-good series.)

But, the chances of playing the Jazz were much higher than playing OKC earlier in the night when both the Blazers and Nuggets were down by double digits in the first half of their games.

Re-watching this Trail Blazers Classic Game Sunday night, it was fun to see Portland’s young squad get so much run and to see some familiar faces who are no longer in a Trail Blazers uni.

The Blazers were down by 25 at halftime, but Portland won while using just six players behind Anfernee Simons’ career-high 37 points.  

Simons averaged 3.8 points in 7.1 minutes per game his rookie season.

[RELATED]: Fans got a glimpse at the future of Rip City in Anfernee Simons 

In his first career start, Simons not only finished with 37 points, he connected on seven three-point field goals and added six rebounds. He also played all 48 minutes as did Gary Trent Jr. and Jake Layman who each scored 19 points apiece.

During Simons’ two years in the league, Damian Lillard has taken the young guard under his wing. During the 2019 regular-season finale, Simons listened to his mentor’s advice.

Dame told me to be aggressive the whole game, so that’s what I did. -- Anfernee Simons said postgame

Skal Labissiere finished with 15 rebounds and scored 29, while Meyers Leonard added 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Simons also dished out nine assists on the night. One of which was this beautiful outlet pass to Leonard:

Leonard made sure to give props once again to Simons for rewarding Meyers for running the floor.

Leonard also acknowledged that this game had plenty of hammer opportunities.

The only other Trail Blazer who played was Zach Collins, who scored 13 points in the 13 minutes.

On this day in history: Meyers Leonard played his last game as a Blazer, which happened to be his best

On this day in history: Meyers Leonard played his last game as a Blazer, which happened to be his best

Where were you on May 20, 2019?

That was the night the Moda Center crowd chanted Meyers Leonard’s name.

It was his final game as a Trail Blazer and it was his best game as a Trail Blazer.

Leonard finished with a career-high 30 points.

The former Trail Blazers big man sat down with our Dwight Jaynes over the summer, just days after he found out he had been traded to Miami, to put into words what that game meant to him.

Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals for me, was truly surreal. That is a moment that I will never forget ever in my life. That game was special. I remember in the second quarter, I think at that point I had 25 points in the first half, and the crowd started chanting my name. I’ve had boos before in that arena. It’s very hard to describe, I mean, it was truly surreal. It made me feel that all the work that I’ve put in, all the ups and downs I’ve been through it was so emotionally powerful.  -- Former Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard

All Leonard ever wanted to do since he was drafted by the Blazers in 2012 as the No. 11 overall pick, was to help the franchise win. Even if his seven years in Portland didn’t go the way some had hoped, or how Meyers had hoped at times, he is extremely thankful for his time with the Blazers.

Leonard continued to describe Game 4, saying, “if you go look at it, I’m pretty sure I put my head down because I didn’t want to tear up. That’s how emotionally tied to that moment I was because of everything that I had been through in Portland and how badly I wanted to help us win for all of those seven years and now here I am, which ended up being my last Blazers game, doing my best to help us.”

Game 4 was a special one for Leonard even if the outcome didn’t go the way he and the Trail Blazers wanted.

It’s hard to believe it has already been a year since the Warriors swept the Blazers in the Western Conference Finals, but it was a day The Hammer and many around Rip City will never forget.  

To celebrate the one year anniversary of Leonard's best game as a Trail Blazer, here are some of the greatest moments from Twitter as people congratulated Meyers on a great finish to the season.

Thanks for the memories, Hammer!

Be sure to check out the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon.

Meyers Leonard helps surprise Miami Heat fan on his 30th birthday

Meyers Leonard helps surprise Miami Heat fan on his 30th birthday

Is Meyers Leonard the nicest guy in the NBA?

He's easily in the running.

One week after Leonard fundraised $175,000 for COVID-19 relief from a 24-hour Twitch stream and fulfilled a promise to dye his hair pink and blue, the colors of the Heat's 'Miami Vice' uniforms, Meyers is back at it again.

This time, Leonard not only made one Miami Heat superfan's day. He made his 30th birthday.

How big of a superfan? Adam and his wife, Amy, went to Miami for their honeymoon where Adam cried during their visit to American Airlines Arena. 

The couple from Melbourne, Australia had a big Miami-themed birthday party planned for Adam's 30th birthday but had to cancel it due to the pandemic. Instead, Amy organized a video of all his friends and family filming themselves wishing him a happy birthday. She also slid into the DMs of Meyers Leonard who happily obliged.

Adam. What's up man? It's Meyers Leonard here. Look, I have to be honest, you have an amazing wife. She said that you guys traveled to Miami for your honeymoon. You really enjoyed it and you live and breathe the Miami Heat. So I just wanted to take some time to say happy birthday, number one, and number two, everything going on right now is complete madness. You know, we don't know when all this is going to end, but I hope you and your wife are doing well and I hope that your family's doing well, and I just wanted to give a little personal touch to the video to let you know I'm thinking about ya and once again, happy birthday man. See you later. -Meyers Leonard

How much did it mean to Adam? He started tearing up. He later thanked Meyers for the birthday wishes in a video posted by Amy, and later reposted by Meyers. 

I don't really know where to start or what to say. I was blown away by the message that you recorded. It took some time out of your day and everything. I can't believe it. I appreciate you. It was really, really cool to, I guess sort of hear your voice and have that personal touch, and everything. That was really, really awesome, man. Yeah! Just wanted to say thanks. Keep up the good work with everything you're doing charity wise... Following you on Twitch and you're doing such an amazing job... It's good to see we have some positive stuff coming out of this whole process and everything with everything that's happening, and so appreciate you. Can't wait til season's back up and running. Back out on the court kind of thing and let's go Heat. - Adam

"These are the moments that mean the most," said Meyers on Twitter. "Adam, thank you for being a big fan of mine and the @MiamiHEAT! Amy, thanks for reaching out! I hope that you guys are doing well and send my love to the rest of your family."

Social media loved the kind gesture.

This isn't the first time Leonard has sent a personalized message to a large fan of his.

In February, he sent one to Isaac Doing, a huge Meyers Leonard fan who recently underwent brain surgery. He's also the son of Rip City Radio host Chad Doing, who had notoriously spoke badly about Leonard's play during his stint in Portland. Chad later changed his opinion on Leonard, becoming a fan of his, after Meyers killed him with kindness.

Meyers Leonard reaches COVID-19 fundraising goal, dyes hair pink & blue

Meyers Leonard reaches COVID-19 fundraising goal, dyes hair pink & blue

Former Portland Trail Blazers and now Miami Heat big man Meyers Leonard announced earlier this month that he had initially raised $70,000 during his 24-hour live-stream session on Twitch.

Fans have continued to donate in efforts to help those struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Being an avid gamer and NBA player makes for a great following on the most popular live-streaming platform for gamers.

Leonard has been using Twitch to not only entertain his fellow gamers, but to also help people in need during the pandemic.

[RELATED]: Meyers Leonard gets Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic while raising money for charity 

Before his 24-hour gaming stream began on Sunday April 5th, Leonard revealed he was raising money to reach a goal of feeding one million people throughout the month of April through Feeding America and Feeding South Florida.

On that following Monday, the 7-footer announced the stream had generated $70,000 of the $175,000 goal, while tweeting out, "WOW. THANK YOU" to those who participated to help support the relief efforts.

Less than three weeks later, Leonard announced that he would dye his hair as promised after reaching the goal of $175,000.

The decision was made for Meyers to dye his hair a bright pink and blue after fans voted on the new 'do.

No pastels.

This hair was meant to make a statement -- A statement of reaching a goal to feed one million people in the month of April.

Kevin Wasielewski of ORIGIN PC, a company that provides high-performance PCs for gamers & professionals, shared his gratitude on Twitter. He was happy to see the NBA and Gaming world collide to raise so much money during these troubling times.  

Now the question is: Will there be a new goal with a new hairdo? 

Meyers Leonard gets Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic while raising money for charity

Meyers Leonard gets Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic while raising money for charity

A lot of crazy things can happen when you are streaming video games for 24 hours straight. 

Ask Meyers Leonard, who woke up this morning with a Sharpie tattoo of Joe Exotic on his right arm. 

The former Trail Blazers big man is coming off 24 hours straight of streaming on ESPN Esports’ Twitch channel to raise money for those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. His goal is to help provide food for $1 million people in the month of April.  

About 9 hours into the “Hammer Classic,” Meyers felt proud of his fundraising efforts and rewarded himself with a Sharpie a tattoo of Tiger King star Joe Exotic. His wife, Elle, is the artist behind the impressive masterpiece. 

I’m not sure what we’re more amazed by: Elle’s crossovers on the court or her baller artwork. Take a look: 

During the live gaming session, Leonard gave away an XBOX One X console, a FaZe jumpsuit and of course a pack of 12 Level Foods bars. Elle and Meyers created the protein bars company, Level Foods, while they were in Portland. 

Leonard will also be donating $25,000 matched by the National Basketball Players Association for the cause.

Leonard is one of many NBA players who have turned to esports to help engage with fans in an authentic way. 

Portland Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside has also been doing his part to provide some "live" basketball content to fans while games remain on hiatus. He was one of 16 participants in the NBA2K20 tournament held last week. 

Ankle injury will prevent Meyers Leonard's return to Portland

Ankle injury will prevent Meyers Leonard's return to Portland

The return will have to wait.

Former Trail Blazer and Heat center Meyers Leonard will not travel on Miami's upcoming five-game West Coast road trip due to an ankle injury sustained Monday against the Philadelphia 76ers, according to head coach Eric Spoelstra.

The injury will keep Leonard out for weeks.

Among the stops on the five-game road trip was going to be Leonard's return to Portland, the city he spent seven seasons with after being selected 11th overall in the 2012 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers. 

Coincidentally, Leonard is not the first returning Trail Blazer to not suit up in their return to Portland: Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner, and Jake Layman also were injured when their teams played in Portland. Only Seth Curry from last season's team has actually played against Portland at the Moda Center. 

His career in Portland was up-and-down, from looking promising enough to warrant a 4-year, $41 million contract to getting DNP- Coach's Decision's while on that contract. He went out on a high starting in the Western Conference Finals and scoring 30 points, 25 in the first half, against the Golden State Warriors in a season-ending Game 4 loss in Portland. Where the same crowd that booed Leonard chanted his name in the biggest game of his life. 

Then, in the offseason, Leonard was traded to Miami in the trade that netted the Blazers starting center Hassan Whiteside. The Heat needed to shed salary to sign-and-trade for Jimmy Butler. 

In Miami, Leonard has found a new home starting in all 49 games he's appeared in and averaging 6.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. His three-point shooting has translated to South Beach, 37.9%. 

Earlier this season, Leonard did get to play his former team in South Beach, with the Heat defeated the Blazers 122-111.

Love, respect and jersey swaps between former teammates Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard

Love, respect and jersey swaps between former teammates Damian Lillard and Meyers Leonard

It was all love after Sunday’s game in Miami.

The Trail Blazers were unable to claw back against the Heat, as Miami took the 122-111 victory.

But, Damian Lillard took the opportunity postgame to meet up with Meyers Leonard at center court for their special jersey swap.  

Jersey swaps have become a common practice following NBA games, however, this one had a lot of meaning behind it. 

The two former teammates came into the league together and have said in touch throughout the season via text and FaceTime.

Sunday marked the first time that Lillard and Leonard had squared off against each other since Leonard was traded to the Heat last summer.  

There’s no doubt the two have mutual respect for one another.

The night before the game, Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, all made a trip to Leonard’s South Beach pad to have dinner together.  

“That was pretty special… It was really, really cool to spend some time with those guys,” Leonard told our Dwight Jaynes pregame.

The former Trail Blazers big man finished with 11 points and nine rebounds in the Heat’s 17th home victory of the season, and in his first action against Portland.

Lillard spoke highly of Leonard after the game. “He was calling all of our plays out,” Lillard told reporters with a smile. “You can tell he’s comfortable, he’s found a spot on their team, and he fits in well with them, spacing the floor, shooting those deep threes, communicating, he’s the best version of himself right now.”

Leonard took to social media to show his love. He tweeted the jersey swap photo with the simple caption, "Different jersey, same family."