Posts Tagged ‘Meyers Leonard’

Which Trail Blazer Would Make The Best Wrestler?

ALL BALL NERVE CENTER — I’m not sure why someone asked the members of the Portland Trail Blazers to choose which Blazer would make the best professional wrestler, but someone asked the members of the Portland Trail Blazers to choose which Blazer would make the best professional wrestler. Lots of votes here for Robin Lopez and Meyers Leonard. Lopez actually kind of has the look down, but as a longtime wrestling aficionado, I’d say Leonard needs to come up with some sort of gimmick…
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VIDEO: Which Blazer Would Make The Best Wrestler

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Meyers Leonard

By Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers

Man’s Best Friend

My girlfriend Elle, Bella and me.

My girlfriend Elle, Bella and me.

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!

Tournament Talk

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.

Rookie Recap

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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NBA Rooks: Diaries … Meyers Leonard




By Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers

Birthday Boy

I recently turned 21. The night before my birthday, my girlfriend and I went out to a nice dinner to celebrate. The night of my birthday, we played Denver and I had a good game (13 points and 5 rebounds). After the game, I went home because I wasn’t feeling that great, so to honest with you, I didn’t really think twice about the game being on my birthday. I was just glad I played well, but mad that we lost.

Coming Into My Own

It feels really good to be playing well. Obviously, once you are playing with confidence, it all becomes a lot easier. The last few games, I’ve been finding my stride. The added confidence helps tremendously. I’ve been physically ready all season, working out hard, but now playing better has really helped me become more confident. I speak with coaches pretty often about how it’s all a process. Sometimes big men take two or three years to develop. I’m nowhere near where I want to be or where I know I can be, but I get better each and every day, and that’s all I can ask for at this stage.

My game has evolved a lot since the beginning of the season. I’m more aware of how to play strong and how to use my body, and my anticipation and court savvy have gone way up. It’s about getting game experience and just being out there on the court. It’s tough coming from college as a 20-year-old and having to learn a whole new style of play. It takes more anticipation and a better understanding of what each and every guy you guard is going to do. I think my defense has improved, knowing when to rotate and try to block shots. On offense, I’m starting to find myself in the right places more often and I’m reading the situations and plays in front of me better. It’s coming together for me, and I feel like I’m really starting to understand the NBA game.

Blazers assistant coach Kim Hughes has had a huge amount of influence on me. I work with him constantly, and he’s there for me no matter what. He always keeps me level-headed, whether I had a good or bad game, or made a good or bad play. I trust him 100 percent, on and off the court. Coach Hughes is very smart and understanding. He has been a head coach and played 10-plus years in the league, so he’s been there. We clicked right away. He’s got a little goofy side to him, but when it’s time to work, he’s ready to work. He pushes me a lot and it’s absolutely great to have him as a mentor. We’re really a perfect fit.

Playoff Run

There’s just a little bit of pressure in the back of my mind knowing that the season is winding down and we are making a push to make the playoffs. On the other hand, I take the approach that every single game is another stepping stone in the learning process. I realize that different games have different significances and meanings, but I play as I hard as I can and do my best no matter what. I’m just out there trying to be me and help my team win.

Our team mentality hasn’t really changed throughout the season. We are a hardworking and selfless team that plays well together. We’ve had some crazy wins and some bad losses, but quite frankly, overall, we’ve played pretty well. Whether we figure it all out by the end of the season or next year, I think we have a chance to be pretty good.

March Madness Around The Corner

I’m not always spot on everything going on with my Fighting Illini, but they’ve had a pretty good season. The Big 10 has been tough, but Illinois has had some signature wins, like beating Gonzaga, which is No. 1 in the country right now. They also beat Indiana when they were No. 1 and beat Minnesota on its home floor. I’m proud of my team! I hope they make a great run in the Tournament and they deserve it. They are good kids who work hard.

I still communicate with some of the guys on the team, especially Brandon Paul. He’s very talented and definitely going to get drafted. Rather than worry about that though, I have always told him to focus on his college season and everything else will fall into place.

It’s tough to predict who’s going to do what in the Tournament now because there’s really not one dominant team. Obviously, the teams that are ranked highest are the best ones. Michigan is doing pretty dang well. Indiana is pretty good — I really like the way Victor Oladipo plays. I was friends with him in college, and I’m proud of him. Duke is up there as one of the top teams. Then there’s Gonzaga. I think Miami is pretty tough, but I don’t think they can make a run at the title. Most importantly, watch out for my Illini!

That’s about it. We’re on a short road trip right now. I’m happy that I’m playing better, and I just want to continue play this way. My family is good, and I do something I love every day. Life is good!

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.

Follow All Ball all season for more from NBA Rooks: Diaries …

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Meyers Leonard




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.

Piano Man

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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