By endorsing same-sex ballot initiative, Trail Blazers state ‘we get behind equality, period.’

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

In a statement released on Friday, the Portland Trail Blazers as an organization waded into mostly uncharted territory for a major sports team by declaring support for the Freedom to Marry and Religious Protection ballot initiative in Oregon. The initiative, which will require 116,284 signatures to make it on the ballot in November 2014, would amend the state constitution to allow same-sex couples to marry while also protecting the right of clergy and religious institutions to refuse to perform marriages that conflict with their views.

“We know that we have a really unique position to shine a bright light on an issue like this that is probably not completely traditional in professional sports today,” said Trail Blazers Vice President of Community Relations Traci Rose.

Oregon’s constitution, by way of a ballot initiative passed in 2004, currently defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman.

The Trail Blazers joined the Timbers and Thorns, along with many other Portland businesses, in throwing their support behind the initiative. It is believed the Trail Blazers are the first team of the four major leagues in the United States to take an explicit stance on same-sex marriage.

“We knew it might not be everyone’s opinion but we knew, from a business standpoint, that it was the right thing to do,” said Rose. “It was really cool to have it be able to come all together at the same time the Timbers and Thorns were getting behind it. There was no concerted effort for us to do it hand-in-hand but shoot, it sure made an impact. Obviously Oregon United For Marriage was thrilled to have both sports take a position and then to end up hearing that Oregon was the first state to have professional sports team get behind an issue like this was great.”

The team knew the endorsement of the ballot initiative might be controversial, as there are few issues more hot-button in the United States, but in the end, Rose said the decision was a rather easy one.

“We have such a tremendous privilege and responsibility for who we are,” said Rose. “I said it this weekend, the Timbers and the Trail Blazers bring national attention to things easily because of who we are and what we do. And even though we’re not doing it politically, it’s not like we haven’t stopped for a second and thought about who are our customers and who are our fans. At the end of the day, in this particular case, it doesn’t matter. What we’re saying is we get behind equality, period. And why wouldn’t we? It shouldn’t be over-thought, it’s just about human compassion for one another.”

According to Rose, endorsing the ballot initiative was a logical extension of the team’s “Respect, Pass It On.” campaign, which focused on putting an end to bullying by raising awareness.

“We’ve been working with Basic Rights Oregon for years,” said Rose. “They’re actually one of the first groups that came to us and helped inspire us to head into the “Respect” campaign. They came and talked to us about the issues that LGBTQ students were facing in school, so when we were building the “Respect” campaign they were really one of the first groups that inspired us to try and figure out how we can be the conversation-starter for people to start talking about the affects of bullying and individual choices and just respecting individuals for who they are.”

Vulcan Inc., the company that oversees all of Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen’s business and charitable endeavors, was one of the most prominent organizations to support Washington state’s same-sex marriage law approved by voters in 2012. Rose said knowing that same-sex equality was something that was already supported by “our owner on down” so the Trail Blazers’ involvement with Oregon’s ballot initiative brings the team in line with other Vulcan companies. Rose said several Trail Blazers executives are supporting the initiative personally and that the response internally has been overwhelmingly positive.

It is yet to be seen what impact the Trail Blazers endorsement will have on the initiative should it qualify for the ballot in 2014 or if there will be significant backlash from their fans, but none of that really factored into the organization’s decision. It came down to the team doing what they felt was right, regardless of the repercussions.

“We’re not asking anyone to change their lifestyle,” said Rose. “We’re just saying this, to us, is right.”

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VIDEO: Lillard Cuts Through Crowded Street Market In New Adidas Ad

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.

But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…

Here’s what the folks at adidas have to say about the spot…

In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.

The spot is one of three released by adidas as a part of the “Here To Create” series, which includes football players chasing rabbits through the Everglades and some kind of soccer/motocross amalgam.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Post Free Agency Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. And a reminder that the offseason is a great time to leave a review on iTunes!

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Trail Blazers Match Four-Year Offer For Allen Crabbe

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
7 days ago

UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.

ORIGINAL POST

After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…


As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.

But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.

There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…

With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.

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