By Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers
Man’s Best Friend
I got a dog! She’s a Siberian Husky, and I named her Bella. There is no real significance to the name Bella, just had a nice ring to it. I got her about three days ago from a breeder in Bend, Oregon. I have always wanted a Husky, and now I’m lying right next to one! So far it’s going well. She rides in the car with me and I carry her around; she’s a little princess. Soon I’ll have her trained, but she already picked up walking on a leash, which is something you take for granted. Even though she’s a lot of work, she’s worth it and it is good for me to have the responsibility of taking care of her. I did not have a dog as a kid, but I always wanted one. We never had the room, the time or the money for a dog. I had cats all my life. In the future, I’ll probably get another dog and likely there will be no more cats!
I should start by talking about my Illini. They had a good season, and I think Coach Groce did a great job in his first year with the team. People around the university and the state seem to really like him, and he brings a real energy and passion. My Illini won their first game and then had a tough match-up against Miami. They had a tough call against them in the second half and then couldn’t get over the hump. I was proud of them; most of those guys were my teammates, so it was exciting to watch them. I wish they could have kept going … they have a lot of talent.
Believe it or not, I actually had Louisville winning it all in my bracket. I picked them from the beginning because they were on a hot streak. Then the Kevin Ware injury happened, which was catastrophic, after that they were destined to win. I cannot imagine what that was like for his teammates and coaches. You can tell from the TV interviews that Kevin’s teammates really respect him, and he’s in some ways a leader of that team. They were probably motivated to win before, but once that happened, they had the mindset that they had to get it done no matter what.
When I heard about the injury, our team was just about to take off for a road game. I took out my computer to see it for myself, and as an athlete, I instantly felt bad for him. In all of sports history, there have not been many in-game injuries quite like that. All I can recall is Joe Theismann’s leg injury and Willis McGahee’s knee injury, both of which were very bad football injuries. Kevin definitely showed a lot of heart and toughness. It goes to show how much he cared about the team and the university that he wanted to be there for the Championship game no matter what. He was so selfless about the situation. They say that he will recover within a year and be able to play again. My prayers are with him.
Even though I wanted to root for Louisville, I was pulling for Michigan in the championship game because my girlfriend’s brother Max Bielfeldt plays for them. One thing that hurt Michigan was Trey Burke getting in early foul trouble and then Mitch McGary getting in foul trouble in the second half. It was a great game and both teams had a chance to win, but Louisville pulled it out.
I definitely had my ups and downs this season, and I learned a whole lot. The NBA game is so much different than the college game – faster, bigger, stronger, more offensive schemes, and you have to react faster. As a rookie big man, there is a lot to understand. Toward the end of the season, I’ve started to get more minutes and feel better on the court. I am hoping that next year I’ll have a bigger impact and an even bigger role as I continue to move forward in my NBA career.
Once the season ends for us, I’m going to stay here in Portland to work out for a bit. I’m going to Hawaii, probably Maui, for a vacation. I’ve never been to Hawaii, so I’m excited about that! I will not be doing any surfing though, I’ve seen too many horror stories about sharks, so I’m going to make sure that doesn’t happen to me! After Hawaii, I’ll go back home to Illinois to visit my friends and family. While I’m there, I’ll be working out as much as I can. If I don’t work out just about every day, I don’t feel good about myself or my career. Whether it’s weights or just getting on the court, I will be doing something every day. My offseason will conclude with me heading to Vegas for summer league and from there I will report early to Portland to get extra work in before training camp and hopefully make a push for a starting spot next year.
Thanks for your support this season! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram @MeyersLeonard11.
Meyers Leonard is a 7-foot-1 center from the University of Illinois. He was selected by the Trail Blazers with the 11th pick of the 2012 NBA Draft.
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