Another Portland Trail Blazers media day has come and gone, ushering in the start of training camp. It was very much routine for most in attendance. Familiar faces tiredly skimmed their information packets, but glowed at the sight of free lunch. Most of the usuals were there; your Freemans, your Richmans, and your Everymans in between, quietly chatting over bites of assorted fruits and sandwiches. Each found a power outlet for their laptop in the Moda Center’s South Atrium and awaited the noon conference to come while players were off shooting promos, signing merchandise, and going through the standard rigmarole down the hall. An old start to a new day, laced with anticipation.
At the exact stroke of twelve, President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey arrived in a rather sharp suit, signaling that it was time for us to migrate toward the provided seating. Media members from all different conglomerates filled the front rows for convenience of voice recording. The first question, however, was asked by head coach Terry Stotts, who jokingly shouted from the back, "Why didn’t you sign LaMarcus?" to which Olshey responded, "It was too much effort to fly to Dallas." And so the tone was set. Media day is mostly fluff anyway, but a welcome injection of life into the fall news cycle.
When Olshey finished taking questions, Stotts went, and Trail Blazers president Chris McGowan after that. Players filtered in one at a time to have their go as well. Meyers Leonard sarcastically shouted out the most banal questions on his way to the microphone in order to avoid fielding them should they arise organically, eliciting a spread of snorts and snickers through the small crowd. For the most part, inquiries were well formulated and responses were well received.
Perhaps the biggest piece of real news to arise from the afternoon (aside from the revelation that this is a hungry squad of young go-getters that are ready to play hard) was that shooting guard Gerald Henderson has not yet fully recovered from the hip debridement surgery he underwent in July. He was expected to be cleared for training camp by now, but has yet to go through contact drills. This should not be an issue in the long run, as the regular season is a month away and he assured us that he "feels great and is close to 100 percent."
The day went on and the majority of the players got their turn to speak. Roster question marks like Tim Frazier, Phil Pressey, Luis Montero, and Cliff Alexander did not join us in the conference, which is normal. They were not in high demand, but were also within walkie talkie range if needed. The final player to address the media was Damian Lillard, who subtly deflected the ‘best for last’ sentiment, saying, "Everything we do this season is going to be based on our group. I’m not going to be a hero."
This concluded the media’s three or so hours of involvement in media day. Lillard hung around for a few minutes to go on air with Dwight Jaynes of CSNNW, and the rest of us plugged in our headphones and began transcribing the day's Q&As before braving Portland traffic. Although brief in nature due to the group setting of the conference, my transcriptions can be found by following these links:
- CJ McCollum Expands On Workouts With Steve Nash
- Damian Lillard Brushes Up On Stephen Curry Skillset
- Meyers Leonard Talks Versatility and Off-season Focus
- Noah Vonleh Looks Forward to Training Camp
If you have any questions about media day, please leave them for me in the comment section below. I will answer them when I am free and able.