Nassir Little

Why Nassir Little's injury was a significant missed opportunity

Why Nassir Little's injury was a significant missed opportunity

The Trail Blazers' second game of the preseason was supposed to be an opportunity for young players and the back half of the roster to play extended minutes.

Instead it turned into just a brief cameo for rookie Nassir Little.

With Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside getting the night off, Terry Stotts had hoped to give the rookie forward at least 20 minutes against visiting Maccabi Haifa. But Little’s night lasted just three minutes after he sprained his left ankle early in his first shift and had to leave the game for good during the second quarter.

Little got into the paint and rose up for a layup drawing a foul as he landed awkwardly on his left leg. He stayed in the game to attempt both free throws, but the Blazers committed an intentional foul to get their first round pick out of the game. Little walked straight back to the locker room and didn’t return.

Afterwards he didn’t sound concerned, calling his ankle “a little sore but nothing major.”

“It’s been doing good, it was just a minor tweak,” he added.

It was a lost opportunity for Little who had solid showing at the end of the Blazers first preseason game against Denver on Tuesday. He didn’t get an x-ray after Thursday's game, saying team doctors deemed in unnecessary, but he admitted that it was unlikely he will be cleared to play by Saturday night when the Blazers take on the Phoenix Suns (5pm on NBC Sports Northwest).

Thanks to the early injury, Little remains largely an unknown in the very early stages of his rookie season. Blazers fans got a chance to see him in summer league, but he’s played just 16 total minutes in preseason after spending September sharpening his game at the Blazers practice facility.

“Training camp was really good,” he said. “Just learned a lot, trying to get better each and every day. So, I thought it was pretty productive for me.”

Behind the scenes, the Blazers have been impressed with Little’s work ethic and his athleticism as a 19 year old going up against pros. But he isn’t likely to get much playing time during the regular season, which makes his absence from exhibitions games even more unfortunate.

The two weeks of the preseason were going to be a chance for him to get valuable on-court experience in a competitive setting against real opponents. With the minor injury, he’ll have to wait a few days before getting back out on the court. But a timeline of a couple days isn't bothering Little, who offered a much wider view before making his way out of the locker room.

“I’ll have a long career, I’m confident in that,” Little said with a smile. “So there will definitely be more games down the road.”

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Listen here for a special Trail Blazers edition of The Bridge Podcast with Kevin Calabro:

Injury update on Nassir Little following the 2nd preseason game

Injury update on Nassir Little following the 2nd preseason game

The Trail Blazers were hit with an injury on Thursday when Nassir Little was forced to leave the game after a left ankle injury. 

After attempting a layup and being fouled, Little went down and was seen grabbing the ankle. He shot the free throws but was then subbed out and taken to the locker room. 

Little did not return to the game but spoke postgame in the locker room about the injury:

All things considered, this is good news. Little was probably looking at reduced minutes for Saturday's game anyway. The assumption is guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who sat out Thursday's game (load management), will return to the rotation on Saturday. 

We will have more updates from the practice facility on Friday and pregame on Saturday. 

Saturday's 5pm game will air on the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest, and also stream on the MyTeams app!

Instant Analysis: Young Guns get run in 2nd preseason game

Instant Analysis: Young Guns get run in 2nd preseason game

The Trail Blazers preseason continued tonight in a game vs. Maccabi Haifa. With Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Hassan Whiteside all sitting out due to 'load management' the young Trail Blazers got some extra minutes tonight. Nassir Little left the game in the first half with a leg injury and did not return. 

Here are three quick takeaways from the win from our NBC Sports team at the game:

Mike Richman, Reporter

This wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the Blazers championship caliber depth as the back half of the rotation struggled to completely pull away from Haifa all night. That said, Anfernee Simons showed some flashes of a special shooting touch and Zach Collins was the best big man on the floor. Not great, but not really meaningful. On to Saturday against Phoenix when the whole roster should be available.

Chris Burkhardt, Producer

Portland did exactly what they should have. Simons had a great game and showed he can be a spark plug off the bench. He can go from cold to red hot in seconds. He had a few 6-0 runs all by himself. That's the good side. On the bad side, we need to see more from Anthony Tolliver. Against a team like Maccabi Haifa, I expected him to get hot and find his groove. That wasn't the case. Instead, he was held scoreless through three quarters. The Blazers need him to find his shot... But, it's just preseason. Keep shaking that rust off and call me back when the games count.

Dwight Jaynes, Insider

Maccabi Haifa needs to quit scheduling NBA teams. It is now 0-20 against them with an average margin of defeat of about 30 points per game. Plus this nugget of fun:

You can listen to the latest Bridge podcast with Trail Blazer announcer, Kevin Calabro right here:

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Phoenix Suns for a 5pm tip-off on Saturday. The preseason game will air on NBC Sports Northwest and stream on the MyTeams app!

Check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

Nassir Little leaves early with left ankle injury

Nassir Little leaves early with left ankle injury

The Blazers were dealt an injury blow on Thursday when rookie Nassir Little had to leave the game against Maccabi Haifa after suffering a left ankle injury. 

Little went up for a layup late in the first quarter and was fouled on the attempt. He landed awkwardly and was seen on the court holding his left leg. 

He was able to get up and shoot the two free throws. but was them subbed out and walked gingerly back to the locker room. 

The team has announced that Little sustained a left ankle sprain and will not return to the game. 

With his 'pit bull' mentality, Nassir Little accepted Damian Lillard's challenge

With his 'pit bull' mentality, Nassir Little accepted Damian Lillard's challenge

There was a game within the game on Tuesday night as the Trail Blazers hosted the Denver Nuggets in Portland’s first exhibition game of the year.  

During second half action, a side battle between Blazers rookie Nassir Little and Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. was initiated.

Porter Jr. started to get it going offensively and in turn, started talking trash to the Blazers bench.

With Portland’s starters on the bench for the second half, Damian Lillard heard Porter Jr. spout off. Lillard then wanted to fire up his rookie.

Lillard said postgame, “Young players are really confident and try to prove themselves. We started gassin’ up Nas. ‘Like, Nas!’”

After the game, Little explained the situation:

“There was a little bit of talking out on the court. Dame overheard it. He came up to me and said, ‘hey bro, just hoop.’ That was all gas by Dame,” Little said with a smile.

Lillard added, “I got in [Little’s] ear like, ‘ look neither one of you all got a single point as a professional athlete and he’s challenging you right now. Let me see something.”

Little was up for the challenge. 

The Blazers rookie admitted Lillard ‘gassin him up’ it worked.

[RELATED]: Introducing Nassir Little: Make your own legacy

Little was productive in his 12 minutes of play. He recorded eights points and four rebounds.

Little’s aggressive nature broke through.

The 19-year-old made a living at the free throw line on Tuesday hitting 6-of-7 from the charity stripe. 

“I was just having fun, bringing energy to the court like always,” Little said postgame.

Porter Jr. finished with nine points on 4-of-7 shooting, including 1-of-2 from the free throw line in 17 minutes of action.

Even as a rookie, Little already understands he has to show his teeth first.

Little pointed out after Wednesday’s practice that he "has to have a 'pit bull' mentality on the court, especially being a rookie in this league you’ve got to establish that dominance early.”

Little also believes that not enough credit is given to the type of leader Lillard has become.

“It’s big time. Leadership is an undervalued thing. Having a guy like Dame instill confidence in the younger guys I think is really important because the better we are, the better we can help the team, even out here in practice.”

[RELATED]: Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little already "paying it forward" in the Portland community

It wasn’t just Lillard who was able to pump up Little on Tuesday night.

The Blazers rookie gave a shout out to the fans as well.

“That’s one of my favorite parts about basketball, is playing in environments like that, making big plays and getting everybody excited. I just fed off of that."

Nassir Little on Blazers Outsiders: Burgers, Drake, Plankton & more

Nassir Little on Blazers Outsiders: Burgers, Drake, Plankton & more

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little joined Danny Marrang and Alex Haigh on Trail Blazers Outsiders this week.

Per usual, there was a little basketball talk, but mostly just fun and off-the-wall discussions.

The Blazers rookie forward answered a few rapid fire questions to start the show.  

Little went with a burger over a burrito.  

He would go with the step-back three-pointer instead of the dunk for a game-winner.

He’s a ‘Fornite’ guy over ‘Call of Duty’.

And, he’s all about Drake, not Kendrick Lamar.

The 19-year-old also had some fun joking about his “beef” with teammates, former Duke standouts Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr.

It was evident that the North Carolina-Duke rivalry is going strong in Portland, but it’s clear Little is having fun with it and says, “I’m gonna rock my school” with his UNC shirts during pickup games.

The veterans on the team have been showing Little the ropes. He has been very appreciative of their advice and willingness to help.

“It’s a good group of guys to be around.”

Little also discussed how much he enjoyed his first official meet and greet in Beaverton last weekend.

“It was extremely exciting, Little said. “I don’t think they understand that it was as exciting for me as it was for them. You know what I’m saying… Being a person that somebody wants to meet, I think that’s really surreal.  

Little also tried to interpret Hassan Whiteside’s SpongeBob snapchats. Watch the video above to hear Little’s description of Whiteside’s advice for Plankton.

Spoiler alert: It’s as funny as you expect it to be.   

Nassir Little looking to earn respect before Blazers training camp starts

Nassir Little looking to earn respect before Blazers training camp starts

With just over two weeks until the Portland Trial Blazers preseason slate tips off, the question remains -- what will Portland’s rotation look like this season?

If you include two-way player, Jaylen Hoard, the Blazers have added seven new additions to the squad.

What about Blazers rookie Nassir Little? Could we see him get some run?

Over the last two weeks with the players returning to Portland to get acquainted with each other before training camp gets underway, Little has been focusing on what his teammates think about him before the season gets started.

“To earn their respect on the court as a rookie has been big for me. I’m excited to keep going with that,” Little said at his first official meet and greet over the weekend.

[RELATED]: Introducing Nassir Little: Make your own legacy

At just 19 years old, Little recognizes that he has a lot to learn from the guys who have been around the organization the longest, especially Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. He also has been fighting the shell shock of it all.   

“It’s been good,” Little said. “For me, walking in and seeing Dame in the building, and then CJ, and then Pau Gasol, just guys I watched growing up it’s been surreal.”

Gasol’s rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies was in 1998.

Little was born in 2000.

Think about that for a second…

[RELATED]: The Bridge Podcast with Nassir Little

Even though Little has yet to play his first real minutes in a Trail Blazers uniform, advice has been in pouring in from Trail Blazers veterans.

“It all starts over,” was one piece of advice given to Little.

“All the stuff in the past is in the past, but now I have another chance to earn my [reputation] and try to contribute early on, on a good team,” Little added.

[RELATED]: Blazer pick Nassir Little thinks he can "shock a lot of people in the NBA"

As the Trail Blazers embark on their 50th Anniversary season, Little acknowledged this is a great season to start his career in Rip City.   

“I came in at the right time,” Little said. “A lot of people are excited. Looking forward to making a lot of noise this year.”

Yes, a lot of people in Portland are excited about this season and celebrating the past 50 years. Imagine the excitement when Little starts making a lot of noise.

Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little already "paying it forward" in the Portland community

Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little already "paying it forward" in the Portland community

Through a sea of trading cards and autographed jerseys and posters hung on the wall, sat a young Portland Trail Blazer who was eager to tip-off his first official meet and greet.

An hour before The SportsRoom on SW Hall in Beaverton, Oregon opened its doors at 1:00pm on Sunday, roughly one hundred Blazer fans stood in line eager to mingle with Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little.

The line wrapped around the building with fans both young and old.

As the doors opened, Little told his agent, with a big smile on his face, he was ready.

There was excitement exuding from Little. He looked just as happy to meet the fans, as they were to meet him.

The Rip City faithful standing in line, made comments about how cool it was to be able to have a photo and autograph opportunity from a Trail Blazer. One young fan, added he thought this was the first Trail Blazers meet and greet in Beaverton. 

“It was pretty awesome, being face-to-face with an NBA player, it was sweet,” Trail Blazers fan Xavier Judge said.

“Thank you, I appreciate it,” is what Little told Trail Blazer fan William Onwall.

There Little was sitting at his very own meet and greet, and he was thanking the fans for coming out to see him.

“This was my first [meet and greet],” Little said after meeting the hundreds of Blazers fans that made their way to The SportsRoom. “I’m excited how it turned out. It was cool to meet some fans and get some support out here.”

Fans were eager to share some nice words with the Blazer rookie. One fan even said, “hey, how about you win rookie of the year?!”

Other fans told Little, “nice to meet you, [I’m a] big fan, honored to meet you."

"You know, that’s really humbling for me,” Little said. “All the hard work I’ve put in to have people appreciate that it means a lot.”

This particular event was also near and dear to the 19-year-old’s heart because of where it was held.

Little grew up collecting trading cards, and in fact, he still has “albums of cards back home.”

For the North Carolina Tar Heel star to hold his first big-time event as a professional athlete at a sports collector shop was very special to Little. 

“I had signed jerseys from some of my favorite players, and just kind of being able to pay that forward, that’s really important,” Little said.

Putting it simply, Little describes the Trail Blazer fans base as “nice.”

“People in Portland are just nice, it’s kind of crazy how nice they are, but I love it,” Little said with a big smile.  

He also already understands the Portland community is an extremely tight knit group who has been welcoming him with open arms.

“From ladies to kids two years old, and then you’ve got older people. So, it shows how wide the fan base is, and how much people are interested in basketball out here,” Little said.

Chris Tinder, who is the current owner of The SportsRoom, was pleased to have such a big event in his shop.   

The SportsRoom has been open since 1984, which makes it one of the oldest sports card shops in the Portland metropolitan area. Over the years, it has changed hands a few times. Tinder and his wife have been the proud owners of The SportsRoom for the past year and a half. Tinder says he is the fifth or sixth owner of the sports shop. 

“Loyal” is how Tinder describes Trail Blazers fans.

“Very loyal… We’ve been underdogs the last few years and we keep just going further and further in the playoffs… I think the sky is the limit with this team and where we could go,” Tinder said.

“I’m excited to see what this kid can bring to the team,” Tinder said of Little.

As for Blazer fan Jeannie Pastega, she has been a Trail Blazer fan since the team brought home the hardware in 1977.

She believes the organization is due for another Championship.

Jeannie grew up in Portland. She has always been a big fan of Trail Blazer players for what they do on the court, as well as what they do in the community.

Little is off to a good start in Jeannie’s book.

“He’s a fabulous young man, a very nice young man. I hope he has a lot of success with the Trail Blazers,” she said after Little autographed her copy of Beckett Basketball Magazine.

I think it is fair to say that all of Rip City agrees with Jeannie. Let's all hope there is a lot of success in Little's future. 

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:

The Bridge Podcast with Nassir Little

The Bridge Podcast with Nassir Little

Get to know your newest Trail Blazer, rookie Nassir Little, in this in-depth two-part podcast.

Justin Myers sits down with Little and the two talk about Little's process of going from college basketball to the NBA Draft.

They also do a deep dive into draft night and what it was like waiting to hear his name called by Adam Silver for the 25th pick.

Part 1:

Part 2: