I had a very exciting weekend, starting off with flying to Houston for NBA All-Star. I left early on Thursday morning with my teammate Dion Waiters, and our other teammates Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson left a little later in the day. It was cool because we were all playing together in the Rising Stars Challenge. I was on the same team – Team Shaq — with Kyrie and Dion, and Tristan was the only Cavalier playing on Team Chuck.
Let The Games Begin
Once we got to Houston and hung out at the hotel for a little bit, we had some media interviews and a photo circuit to do with the rest of the rookies and sophomores. At the end of that, I got matched up with other rookies to shoot an NBA TV thing. They taped us while we were sitting around having a conversation about our rookie year. So many of us have grown up playing with and against each other, so it was fun to see each other and trade stories a little bit.
Then we were off to our do’s and don’ts of All-Star meeting. It was nothing too groundbreaking … the typical “be at practice” and “keep working hard” reminders. We went over our itinerary and got our gear for the weekend. That night, I went out with some friends and people from my agency for dinner.
Friday morning, we had practice at Jam Session, which took place inside the convention center. Well, they called it practice but basically it was a shootaround. Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale was there working with us. There were some fans watching, so the NBA gave us these little basketballs to throw up into the stands. I threw one of the balls really hard trying to get it to the top, but then it just hit a pole and came back down. Oh well.
Following practice, we all went over to participate in a bunch of NBA Cares projects. Our first stop was to help put up a basket at a school. And then we went to help build a house. Our job was to put up a chain link fence and we also planted a tree and some bushes.
After NBA Cares, I had some time to go back to the hotel and take a little nap. Then it was game time. All of us players met downstairs and went over to the gym. We had a quick shootaround and Commissioner Stern came into the locker room to say a few words. He congratulated us on being there and said to go out and tip off All-Star weekend well. Then we went to take team pictures, which ended up being pretty funny. I took one with Harrison Barnes because we went to college together, then they tookone of the four Cavs. Then we started realizing the photographers were taking pictures of practically every combination they could think of — international players, guys who went to college together, guys who have the same agent. It was funny.
A little before the game, Shaq came over to talk to us for a couple minutes. He basically told us the same thing as Commissioner Stern.
The game itself was fun, but there was no defense and you got basically got to do whatever you wanted. I tried to have fun rather than be as serious as I normally am at our regular-season games. If I got the ball, I tried to score. And it was fun to guard Tristan for a little while. Since he was the only Cav on Team Chuck, the rest of us were having fun with that. After the game, we just had some of the typical media stuff to do.
Next Stop: Chapel Hill
On Saturday morning, it was time to head to Chapel Hill for my UNC jersey retirement. All-Star was definitely a fun experience and I enjoyed it, but I didn’t mind having to leave early because I knew it would have been tough to stay there for four days and feel rested afterward. I needed a couple days to relax, mentally and physically.
We went straight to a private airport, which we had a little trouble finding at first. There were just five of us on this little plane — me, the two pilots, the owner of the plane and a guy who works for UNC.
My family met me at UNC. It was really cool to be back there and see all kinds of people you haven’t seen in a while — even cool to see the trainers, security guards and maintenance people I used to see at the gym every day. It was really nice to see them and say, “Hi.” Before the game, they presented me with the Patterson Medal, which is UNC’s highest athletic honor. During the game, we had the jersey retirement ceremony. I sat with my parents and girlfriend during the game, which was great because I hadn’t seen them in a while. The whole experience was awesome! The fans, who are always great, were doing a lot of cheering. I was joking that I better not come back too often or they might start booing me!
My little brother Cody, who goes to Indiana University, had a basketball game that afternoon. So my whole family watched it together on TV and then went out to dinner. Sunday morning I went back to the church that I went to all throughout college, and I flew back to Cleveland that night.
Even though the All-Star break was busy, I do feel physically and mentally refreshed. I was doing a lot of running around, but at the same time, was able to get away from it for a little bit and take a break from the pounding on my body.
Now it’s time to get back to Cavs basketball. Hopefully our team can get on a good run and continue to get better for the second half of this season and next year.
Monday afternoon, the Miami Heat were hosted by President Obama at the White House. It was an honor for, you know, being the best professional basketball team in the world last year. In return, it was an honor to be in the company of Dwyane Wade’s outfit — especially his shoes. President Obama even said so himself in good humor … I mean, how could he help himself.
“White House look…” — Dwyane Wade
Person not as on point as Dwyane Wade (PNAOPADWade): “What are you wearing to the White House?”
DWade: “You mean, besides a grey suit?”
DWade: “Oh, just a classic pair of gangster wingtips that had a threesome with a pair of skateboard shoes and bowling shoes in a five-toned room made of gloss and suede.”
PNAOPADWade: “Ha ha. Oh yeah?”
DWade: (Pulling out kicks) “YYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Well, it’s been two weeks since the great Kobe Bryant became seemingly the last major NBA star to join Twitter (c’mon, Tim Duncan‘s too old people). Two weeks is about the true test of time for anything: it’s how long you need to decide to fire your coach, how long it takes for a new one to put your team in the tank and, of course, to know whether or not your Twitter account is successful. Here are some of the gems so far, separated, for your viewing ease, by helpful hashtags. You’re welcome.
Before I forget to mention it, I want to wish everybody a very happy holidays and a happy new year! I hope you’re all having a great time with your family and friends!
I’ll also tell you that I perfected “Jingle Bells” on the piano for the holidays. Anyway, because of the Blazers game schedule, I was able to fly out to spend Christmas with my girlfriend and her family in Peoria, Ill. This year, I won’t be going to my family’s house in Robinson, Ill., because there’s not enough time to go all the way home –- it’s a three-hour drive from my girlfriend’s house to mine. I’ve gotten all kinds of texts from everybody in my family saying they wish I were there and all that kind of stuff. It’s OK; I’m used to being away from home.
But my family Christmas is a lot of fun. Everybody meets up at one of the Grandma’s houses and we eat, relax, play ping-pong. Yes, ping-pong. It’s been a big family tradition for seven or eight years. We do a tournament and play what we call “Around the World.” We end up having like 20 people play, and we line up on each side of the table and hit the ball all the way down, back and forth. If you miss, you’re out. We have what we call “handicaps,” and if you get out first, you have to hold a Cinderella doll. I’m actually serious! If you win, you have to wear these crazy goggles and a hardhat. It’s hilarious! It’s the same thing every year, and it never fails to be a great time! I’ve also gotten texts from my family saying that they’re going to miss me in ping-pong.
Then New Year’s Eve is next week. We are playing the Knicks in New York on New Year’s Day, which is kind of neat. My girlfriend is going to come out, but I’m not sure what we’re going to do yet. If there’s any way possible, I’d like to see the Times Square ball drop. I know that probably sounds kind of cheesy, but it’s one of those bucket list type of things for me.
Last week we went to the St. Mary’s Home For Boys, which provides a home and different services to at-risk boys between the ages of 10 and 17. It went really well. Our whole team took a bus over there, and we surprised them. We started off doing some warm-ups. We did some layups, then their basketball team did some layups. Then we scrimmaged against each other, which was a lot of fun. We also put them through some drills. Then we presented them with a check for $50,000, and gave them bags of Trail Blazers gear, which I liked because it was really nice to give them some personal things for Christmas. They gave us ornaments and gingerbread cookies, which was very nice of them.
Two of the kids were brave enough to come out and say thank you to us. It was so heartwarming. You could tell they were really nervous to say it out loud, and that it meant a lot to them for us to be there. Those kids have been through a lot; many of them were removed from their homes for different reasons. I can’t imagine having something like that happen or being in situations like those kids have been in. And they are all very nice … I have a lot of respect for them.
The Final Rundown
That’s what’s going on with me for the holidays. When it comes to basketball, I’m doing well. There are the ups and downs, physically and mentally, but I’ve always worked hard to be the best I can be … and I will continue to do that. It can be tough, but it’s all worth it. It’s my job, and it’s what I love to do.
Thanks for reading my blog, and I’ll catch up with you again in 2013. And you can always follow me on Twitter @MeyersLeonard11. Happy holidays!
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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Lest we’ve all forgotten with the Dwightmare and Dwama and all, Dwight Howard can be a prettyfunnyguywhenhewants to be. Things have gotten quite heavy in Lakerland with the 9-12 start and on and on, so if you’re an L.A. fan, this video is great proof of just how hilarious Howard might lighten your mood.
Hey…it’s not everyday when a company gets a billion views on its YouTube page. To celebrate such a milestone, my colleagues at NBA Digital compiled some of the best NBA moments of the digital age (or at least since YouTube became relevant).
Shaq and the Jabbawockeez. A Kobe playoff game-winning buzzer-beater. Blake Griffin Mozgov-ing Timofey Mozgov and Perkins-ing Kendrick Perkins. And a White Mamba sighting?
According to a report on Forbes.com, Kobe Bryant earns $28 million a year off his endorsement deals “with Nike, Smart Car and others.” One of those “others” is Turkish Airlines and, by the looks of things, Kobe isn’t giving them a second-rate effort in the advertising department.
The fruits of that pairing can be seen below in Turkish Airlines’ funny new spot. In it, an autograph-seeking child finds his way into the Kobe/Messi section of the flight. The two superstars proceed to try and one-up each other and win the kid’s attention with all manner of ball-handling, card and, yes, balloon-animal making tricks.
Kobe’s love of soccer (aka football for you non-Americans) is well documented. He soaked up plenty of the action during the 2016 Olympic Games. All that stuff aside, you have to see this commercial for a good laugh for two: