Trail Blazers

Mychal Thompson never felt like a rookie with 'the best vets' in Portland

Trail Blazers

These days, NBA rookie hazing (if it's still even called that) consists of forcing the rooks to use bright pink and purple Hello Kitty or flying unicorn backpacks. Additionally, this past season in Portland, Jaylen Hoard or Nassir Little were often asked to bring the veterans on the team a post game meal in the locker room. 

Back in the day though, NBA vets often had their rookies running errands for them or at the very least making sure to grab breakfast and coffee for their team captains.

To use the joking words of former Trail Blazers center Mychal Thompson there was a fear that you were “going to be abused” as a rookie in the league.

Coming into this league as a rookie, you hope you’re not going to be abused… Because you’re a rookie – ‘go get this and go get that…’ But I had the late great Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins, and  Dave Twardzik, Bobby Gross, Larry Steele – all the guys who had won a championship with the ’77 Blazers.



Mychal Thompson on The Talkin' Blazers Podcast

Thompson joined Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon on the latest Talkin' Blazers where he talked more about his NBA draft experience and what it was like being a rookie in 1978 after Portland made Thompson the number one pick in the draft that year, which also made him the first foreign-born (Bahamas) player to be selected first.

They never treated me like a rookie. They never had me get coffee or get the morning paper. 

Mychal Thompson

From the sounds of it, Thompson’s rookie season couldn’t have gone better in Rip City thanks to the veteran leadership of the Blazers 1978-79 team.  

They welcomed me as one of the guys. They were the epitome of professionalism… All those guys treated me great. Welcomed me with open arms. Maurice Lucas and Lionel Hollins were great leaders on that team. 

With veterans like that, one would expect Thompson’s rookie season to go swimmingly, but being a No. 1 overall pick also probably helped him out a little bit. 

Thompson, who was a fixture in Rip City for eight years while missing one season due to injury, was named to the 1979 All-Rookie team. He had his statistically best season in 1981–82, where he averaged over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game.


Check out the entire Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with Mychal Thompson right here.