Portland Trail Blazers rookie center Meyers Leonard was interviewed by Mike Barrett, Mike Rice and Brian Wheeler on Blazers Courtside. Prior to the interview, Rice referred to the 7-footer as "Leonard Meyers" which seems like an excellent nickname. Video of the interview will be on TrailBlazers.TV.
Here's a transcript.
How's it going getting acclimated to a new city?
It's been a really, really smooth transition for me. I haven't really had any difficulties yet as far as finding a place and some of the necessities, a couch and a bed and things like that. Most importantly, getting acclimated on the court, getting used to the staff, some of the guys within the last week. Within this whole week, a lot of the guys will be here. It's been good to work out, get up and down and get a feel for each other on the court.
Damian Lillard and Blazers guards look to get everyone involved
It always makes it easier when you play with guys you know aren't selfish. For me, I trust my teammates. I know coming in, for me, establishing myself is more about being a presence on the defensive end, the ability to guard a ball screen, the ability to get up and down the court, the ability to block shots, things like that. On the offensive end, it's not my job to really put the ball in the basket unless they drop it off for an easy dunk or finishing around the rim, getting offensive rebounds, finishing those. An occasional mid-range jump shot, making those. Bbut I know coming in that it's not really my job to score the ball so it's not hard for me to go after offensive rebounds or be frustrated about it, because there's just no sense.
Assistant coach Kim Hughes is your big man coach
Kim has been great for me. Even just as a person to have around. We go to dinner, we're actually getting ready to go to dinner soon. But other than him just being a great person and someone to talk to, he's helped me on the court already. He really challenges me on the workouts, he'll talk to me in between games of pick-up that we're playing on the court, giving me little tips. He's been great, the workouts have been good, working on a lot of back to the basket stuff, refining my skills and footwork around the basket, using my ability to face-up and using my quickness to get around slower, bigger defenders. Not only that but keeping me level-headed.
He challenges me a lot. He does this thing where we're shooting mid-range jumpshots and you have to make so many in a row. I think my numbers right now are nine in a row from the corners, 11 in a row from the elbows and 15 from the free throw line. He tells me those are pretty high numbers. I have to continue to work hard. I feel like I've done a pretty good job so far getting myself acclimated and showing guys I'm ready to work hard and get after it.
You joked about not getting recognized in Portland. What's the last few months feel like since your first visit to Portland for a pre-Draft workout?
Since I've been here and even at home, it's been a lot of hard work. The people close to me and the coaches can definitely attest to that. I really take care of my body, I try to eat the right things at all times. I get my rest, like I've always spoken upon. I really get after it in the gym. No wasted time. Worked on my body, got a lot stronger. Not only that, I put in a lot of time on the court working on my overall skillset because I don't want to just be a back to the basket guy or a guy people think of as a finesse [player]. Whatever label people put on different guys, I want to try to do a little bit of everything. I feel like I've worked very hard but making it here isn't enough for me and it never will be. I want to get better every single day. I come to the gym and work hard and try to prove to people that I'm here to stay.
Right now I'm at 250 pretty solid every day. It fluctuates a little bit but it's mainly around 250. My athleticism is still all there. I've gotten a lot stronger and I just feel good. I don't really have any nagging injuries, knock on wood that it stays that way. I hope it will because I've always been a healthy person. I have to continue to play hard and hope for the best.
Your favorite restaurants
Often times when I go to a restaurant to meet a coach or with friends, it's always chicken or salmon, regardless of the place. Sometimes steak. I've mainly grown up on lean protein, lean meat. I try to stay away from dessert. In fact, I normally never get dessert. I always get water. Just have a healthy, balanced meal. No [soda] and if I do it's once in a blue moon. For some sugar or whatever. An average meal for me could be two [pieces] of salmon, a side of rice and some broccoli and definitely some onions. I'm addicted to onions for some reason. I eat them like I drink water. It's really weird.
Explored Portland yet?
Not yet. It's been a lot more on the business side, which to me is very important. As I come in and get acclimated as best as possible. It's been a lot of finding different appliances for my place, it's like I'm in the real world now. I have to take care of myself. I decided not to bring my mom with me so I'm by myself. It's anything from salt shakers to a waffle maker to a new couch. I've been focused on things like that. Other than going to Oregon Golf Club and going out to different places to eat, I haven't had a chance to explore that much. I've been to a couple different stores but nothing major.
Do you have a girlfriend? Need help in that department?
I don't need help. I'm good to go.
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