Robinson Takes MVP Honors At 2013 Wells Fargo Fan Fest

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

After a week of practicing in relative secrecy, the 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers showed the public what they had been working on during training camp at the 2013 Wells Fargo Fan Fest, with the White team defeating the Black team 64-61 in an inter-squad scrimmage.

“I thought we just wanted to finish out the strong week that we had the right way,” said Damian Lillard, who finished with nine points, three rebounds and two assists for the Black team. “I thought everybody competed this whole week. We got better this week. We tightened up all our plays, all of our sets and we got better defensively and I think we wanted to come out and not take steps back and I thought we did a good job tonight.”

White was lead by Thomas Robinson, who was playing for the first time on the Moda Center floor in front of Trail Blazers fans after being acquired via trade this offseason from the Houston Rockets. The 6-9 forward took home MVP honors with a 17-point, 12-rebound, five-assist performance, and while he was satisfied with his Moda Center premier, he said it was the support from the Trail Blazers faithful in attendance that was the highlight.

“I’m more happy that the fans came out and supported us,” said Robinson. “We could have been jumping rope and I think that many people would have showed up to watch us. I heard all summer about the fans and how supportive they are win, lose or draw. I really enjoy that. It makes me feel like you’re home and you’ve really got somebody having your back.”

Robinson started alongside Dee Bost, who finished the night with 15 points and seven assists, Wesley Matthews, Dorell Wright and Meyers Leonard. Victor Claver came off the bench for Black and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

The “White” squad was lead by Will Barton, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the losing effort. Barton had been sidelined with a concussion, but was cleared to play at Fan Fest after passing the NBA-mandated protocols.

“I’m fine, I felt good, said Barton. “Couple days afterward felt like everything was going good, just had to finish some tests up, get my wind back up, start working out and see how it felt under game situation. Doing that I felt good, so translated it to the scrimmage today and I feel like I’m 100 percent.”

But while Barton was feeling better, many of his teammates sat out Fan Fest with various injuries. LaMarcus Aldridge (left quad strain), Mo Williams (right ankle sprain), Earl Watson (right calf contusion) and CJ McCollum (broken left foot) were all sidelined for the event and their availability for Monday’s preseason opener against the Clippers at the Moda Center is yet to be determined.

Even though he wasn’t able to play, Aldridge was satisfied with what he saw from his teammates.

“Played good, played hard. I thought everybody competed, said Aldridge. “I thought (Robinson), he gave the fans a little taste of who he’s going to be this year. Active, a physical guy, crashing the boards, things like that.”

With the Wells Fargo Fan Fest over, the Trail Blazers turn their attention to the Los Angeles Clippers, who’ll they’ll host Monday at 7 PM at the Moda Center. It will be a more intense contest that Sunday’s scrimmage, though the goals will be roughly the same.

“Preseason is still just as much of a learning curve as training camp is,” said Robinson, “the only difference is you’re doing it against other people. That’ll be good to go against somebody else finally. Just keep learning and get ready for later this month when the real thing starts.”

Show Comments

Damian Lillard To Forego 2016 Olympics

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard will not play for Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in order to rest and continue rehabilitating the plantar fasciitis injury that dogged the 6-3 for much of the 2015-16 season. I can confirm this report.

Though Lillard was able to play through the injury after missing seven games in late December, the pain caused by the plantar fasciitis in his left foot never really went away. He received treatment on his foot throughout the season, though the most effective approach to the injury, which causes extreme pain on the bottom of the foot and heel, is rest, which is obviously hard to get when you’re the leader and best player on a team trying to make the postseason. By forgoing the month-long lead up to the Olympics and the Games themselves, Lillard should have the recuperation time he’ll need to go into Portland’s 2016 training camp completely healthy.

Charnania is also reporting that Lillard was hoping for more time to make the decision before being pressed by Team USA for a commitment one way or another. This could very well be true, though if being completely healthy and rested for the start of the 2016-17 NBA season is Lillard’s motivation for declining a Team USA invite, it’s hard to figure how another week or two would change his decision.

Lillard initially declined being a part of the pool that Team USA draws their roster from, though he ultimately relented despite not feeling particularly optimistic about his chances of being named to the Olympic team after being passed over for the FIBA World Cup team in 2014. But between players opting to rest in preparation for the upcoming season and the myriad of concerns regarding the 2016 Games, the number of candidates has dwindled to the point where Lillard would have been a lock to make the Olympic team had he chosen to participate.

But Lillard opting for rest over Rio doesn’t mean you won’t have a Trail Blazer to root for during the Olympics, as Al-Farouq Aminu and the rest of Team Nigeria (a team that also includes former Trail Blazer Ike Diogu and former Oregon Duck Chamberlain Oguchi) have qualified for the 2016 Games after winning AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia. And CJ McCollum has also been invited to play on the USA Select Team, whose purpose is to help the USA National Team prepare for international events, though players from the Select team have been promoted to the National team, with the most recent example being Mason Plumlee making the 2014 World Cup team.

Show Comments

Lillard’s ‘Music Monday’ Goes Freestyle With New ‘Shook Ones’ Track

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 weeks ago

Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is currently barnstorming through Asia as a part of the adidas “Take On Summer” tour. He’s meeting fans, instructing young players, working on his dance moves and generally having a good time in one of the most basketball-obsessed places in the world.

But even though it’s already Tuesday in Asia, it’s still Monday here in the United States, which means Lillard has a new track to post on his Soundcloud account under his nom de rap “DameDOLLA.” And this week, it’s a freestyle featuring V.I.P., one of Lillard’s regular collaborators, entitled “Shook Ones”…

A few select four bars from Lillard’s latest offering…

Last of a dying breed and they’re taking me for granted
I represent the ones working for it, nothing handed
The world is all backwards. How we lazy and demanding?
We ain’t working towards dreams we’re just working towards mansions

I see my people struggle when they still don’t ask for nothing
We always gonna keep it solid, I know when the times are toughest
I know when they gonna be fine and i know when to give them something
Don’t ever try to finesse me, I know when a sucker bluffing

Good stuff. “Shook Ones” is just the latest of Lillard’s growing number of tracks, which include Soldier In The Game, Full Stomach, Why?, Free Bands, The Villains and last week’s Isley. All of these tracks and more can be found on Lillard’s Soundcloud page.

Show Comments

Audio: Terry Stotts On ‘The Vertical’ Podcast

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 weeks ago

In between playing a few rounds of golf and enjoying some of Oregon’s finest beverages (I’m assuming), Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts joined Chris Mannix on “The Vertical” podcast to discuss his past as a player and coach and Portland’s unexpected 2015-16 season…

Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA oracle and head of “The Vertical,” leads off the podcast, with Stotts’ segment with Mannix starting just before the 42 minute mark. Whoever put the post together was kind enough to break down the topics in case you don’t have time to listen to the whole thing, and I’ve transcribed a few segments for your reading pleasure…

Stotts on CJ McCollum’s season, which culminated with the third-year guard being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player…

“I knew he was going to have a good year and I knew he would probably be in the conversation for Most Improved. Now, I wouldn’t have said how many points he was going to average or anything else, but I knew that the opportunity was going to be there and he was going to take full advantage of it because he’s extremely skilled, he can put the ball in the basket and. There were some question marks — one was his health — because he had had injuries each of the three previous seasons, we made him our backup point guard, that was something that he hadn’t done at this level. So there were certainly question marks in certain areas, but the fact that he could score and do what he can do well, I don’t think that surprised anybody within our organization.”

Stotts on Damian Lillard using slights from the media, perceived or otherwise, as motivation…

“I will say in this day and age, I think everybody knows what everybody is saying about everybody. If they don’t read it, a friend reads it or a friend retweets it or forwards the tweet. It’s really hard not to know what’s going on out there and people can try and say, ‘No, I don’t pay any attention to that’ but Damian is a very honest person and he’s true to himself. To say that he doesn’t know what is being said, it wouldn’t be truthful. I think a lot of players and a lot of people in general use that as motivation. I find it funny how people think that Damian is alone with that because you have goals and he wants to do well, he wants to prove what he can do. I think it’s more about what he’s capable of rather than what people are saying.”

Show Comments