NBA.com has posted the latest "rookie diary" entry from Portland Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard, who discusses spending Veteran's Day with his brother Bailey, a member of the Marines. The Blazers honored Bailey during Monday's game against the Atlanta Hawks and aired a taped video message from Meyers thanking military members for their service.
He is no longer on active duty, but was in the Marines for four years and had two tours in Afghanistan. Ever since my brother joined the military, Veteran's Day has become more meaningful to me. A lot of times it goes unnoticed, but after being directly affected with Bailey being overseas twice, I understand the meaning behind it much more. We were always close - we're only two years apart - but that bond became even stronger over the past few years.
About a month ago, I told him I wanted him to come out to a game. He's living back in Illinois and hadn't seen me play in the NBA yet. Since it was Military Appreciation Night, I knew it would have more meaning. So he sat in the family section and got to watch me play for the first time in the NBA. The last time he saw me play was when he surprised me at my last college game. I can't remember exactly when that was, but I know it was against Michigan. At the time, he had just returned from Afghanistan and was still enlisted.
The Blazers did a very nice job putting everything together. They interviewed me about what it was like having him here, and then interviewed both of us together. Bailey was interviewed by himself during the game; I think it was on the Jumbotron. The Oregon Army National Guard presented him a flag at halftime, and he was the honorary person of the night. Also, a man who makes coins for military veterans made a special one for him. It got really loud when they introduced Bailey to the fans; and it was very humbling for me to see how people respect what he did and see the bond we have. It was awesome to have him here for that experience. I know he'll be in Indianapolis to watch me play again in December. And hopefully he'll make it to Chicago, too.
Video of a tear-jerking reunion between Meyers and Bailey went viral back in September.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter