In Tuesday afternoon’s exit interview, Portland Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard reflected on his postseason performance, where he came from and where he ended up, his renewed faith in himself, the confidence restored in his teammates and the staff this year.
The central theme of Leonard’s interview was based around healing, redemption and growth. One quote in particular stood out:
I’m happy to know that I gave the staff and the organization confidence.
Leonard looked back and reflected on a dark time in his life and career, discussing the anxiety he had coming to the arena two years ago, how he was afraid to go out in public for fear of what people may say about him — the look of relief during the interview was evident. When he talked about getting his chances early this season but then falling back out of the rotation:
One thing I’m really proud of, is being a true professional and being ready ... I feel like I produced and I gave my team a chance to win.
On his production in Games 3 & 4 and what it may mean going forward for him:
The last two games were what I know in my heart I can do and what I’m capable of ... It makes me that much more hungry — to see what I did the last two games — to work even harder.
With uncertainty around Jusuf Nurkic’s health going into the 2019-2020 Trail Blazers season, Leonard may be called upon to be the starting center until Nurkic is ready to take back the reins. With that, Leonard said that the summer will be spent again with his trainer, Drew Hanlen, and that this summer will be a bit different than the last two:
This summer is going to be…that last step. This is the most confident I’ve ever been.
The way the season ended for Leonard, even in a loss, certainly looks to have put him in the best possible mindset in his seven-year career. With so many questions heading into the offseason for the Blazers, having a roster mainstay like Leonard on solid footing going into next season is a huge bonus.
You can watch the full interview here: