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Valade: Catching Up With Blazers F/C J.J. Hickson During Return To Cleveland

The Cleveland media caught up with Portland Trail Blazers forward J.J. Hickson, who used to play for the Cavaliers.


Jodie Valade of the Plain Dealer caught up with Portland Trail Blazers forward/center J.J. Hickson on Saturday night in Cleveland, where he spent the first three seasons of his career after being a first-round pick in 2008.

"It gave me chills to kind of walk into this building again," Hickson said. "This is where it all started for me."


Hickson received a warm ovation from the crowd when he was announced as the Trail Blazers starting center. The role of playing in the middle is something the 6-foot-9 player resisted when playing for Cleveland and Cavaliers coach Byron Scott.


Scott can see the difference in the player he once had to prod into better play -- and not just in Hickson's double-double average.

"He's matured," Scott said. "He's doing the things he's capable of doing -- rebounding, running the floor. When he has a shot, he's taking it, and taking it with confidence. I don't think he's putting a whole lot of stock into trying to score every time he gets the ball, trying to be that offensive juggernaut that he thought he was. I think he's playing within himself and I think he's doing a heck of a job."

Valade did a brief question-and-answer with Hickson too.

Q: Did you learn any secrets from Anderson Varejao on rebounding when you played with him in Cleveland?

A: Not only him, but guys like Ben Wallace and Z (Zydrunas Ilgauskas). Those guys weren't that athletic. It's not all about technique, it's who wants it most. That's what I learned about from Andy. It's nothing about technique. It's all about heart and desire.

Q: You had a kind of up-and-down relationship with Cavaliers coach Byron Scott when you played for him 2010-11. What's your relationship like with him now?

A: It was kind of hot and cold, like you said, but I thought we ended on a great note. We didn't have the season we wanted, but I played hard for Byron and I think he definitely appreciated it.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter