Joe Freeman of the Oregonian writes this morning about Robin Lopez's place in Portland, both the city and the basketball team. All the starters, not surprisingly, have good things to say about Lopez and Nicolas Batum sums up his impact on the Trailblazers:
"We all go home in the summer and work on our games and try to get better," he said. "But there's only so much you can do. RoLo changed everything."
Freeman suggests that Robin Lopez is the 21st century's Buck Williams as far as his impact on the trajectory of the Portland Trailblazers and Damian Lillard agrees:
"He was exactly what we needed," Lillard said. "He was the missing piece to our team."
What Lopez brought to the team and why his teammates heap such praise on him is perhaps explained by the attitude he brought along with him to the team. It epitomizes his unselfishness:
"My main thing when I got here was: What can I do to make things easier for everybody?" Lopez said. "I'm playing with a lot of great players and I'm just trying to do whatever I can on the floor to help everybody else out."
The story continues with Lopez's statistics from last season that make graphic his contribution to the team including the fact that he was the first player in the NBA since 2010-2011 to get 300 offensive rebounds and block 130 shots in a season.
Lopez is from my home town, Fresno, located in the geographic center of California where it is hot and dry and is about as different in climate from Portland as two cities can be. Lopez has come to discover that Portland is his kind of city:
"I really love it here," Lopez said. "I fee like I've really found a niche. Nothing is set in stone, but I'm comfortable here, I'm happy here."
"I love the people, they're so friendly," Lopez said. "It's like a small town with big-city benefits. I love how everybody just acts so natural. They act like themselves."
Finally Nicolas Batum sums up nicely why there seems to be so much mutual rapport between teammates, city, and fans:
"There's only one Robin Lopez," Batum said. "And I want him on my team."