By Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
Monday, Oct. 1, 2012 — I’ve been in Portland for about a month straight now, and I’m almost all set in my apartment. The basketball aspect of things has been going really well. I started working with the team in early September doing voluntary workouts, on-the-court work, hitting the weight room, playing in pick-up games.
Training camp was last week, and it was great. I learned a lot and really tried to show the coaches everything I can do and prove myself out there. It was really tough, but that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The physical grind of it is the hardest part. We are doing two-a-days right now, and it’s very grueling to constantly be on the court. On top of that, we are learning a lot of new things, especially us rookies. There’s that stress of doing anything for the first time – first training camp, first practice, first game. But, I have been picking up on all the new concepts, the different plays and calls.
I like my teammates a lot. We haven’t had much time to hang out off the court because we’ve been busy with basketball, but the guys tell me that throughout the season we will eat together on the road a lot. Right now, the chemistry is good. We have a lot of good players and just the right amount of pieces at each spot to make something happen this year.
Compared to college basketball, the experience has been very different so far. For starters, it’s a completely different level of basketball and talent. From a physical perspective, you’re getting hit by bigger bodies and putting in longer hours in the NBA than in college. The similarity is that being a college freshman out of high school is like coming in as an NBA rookie – you have a lot to learn. By the second year, you just understand more.
I haven’t had much time to check out the city of Portland. I’ve been downtown a couple times and have seen a few of the suburbs. I did get a chance to go to Cannon Beach, which is about 80 miles from Portland, the weekend before training camp started. It’s on the coast, and it’s a very beautiful site.
Another thing I’m doing is learning to play the piano. I know that I will have down time during different parts of the season, so I want to keep my mind fresh and learn new things. I started taking lessons a couple weeks ago, and I’ll try to go about once a week when I’m in Portland. So far, I can play different bits and pieces of some of the simple songs, like Yankee Doodle, Amazing Grace, When The Saints Go Marching In. I’ve also learned a good portion of Jingle Bells. I’m learning to play Wanted by Hunter Hayes, which is actually not that difficult. And I also want to learn the theme song from “The Office,” but that one is really hard.
Overall, the adjustment from Illinois to Oregon has been a pretty smooth one for me, and I’m feeling happy with where I’m at right now. No complaints.
Meyers Leonard, a 7-foot-1 center from Illinois, was the 11th player taken in the 2012 NBA Draft.
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