Portland Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza — who opted out of the NBA restart back in June — watched Portland’s Game 4 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers with ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, discussing everything from his decision to sit out to how the Blazers look.
Ariza decided to sit out the restart when he had the opportunity to spend 30 days of visitation with his oldest son, Tahj. Ariza said the decision was a difficult one where he expected backlash, but instead he felt more support than anything.
“You know what? It’s weird, but the opinions that mattered the most to me were all the opinions applauding me for my actions,” Ariza said. “The Blazers couldn’t have been more supportive. They understand how big this is, the times we are in, how important it is to teach a young Black boy to grow to be a successful Black man.”
Ariza also said that when his son returned to North Carolina he called the Blazers asking if he could return, but unfortunately that was not possible.
“I asked if there was any way,” Ariza said, “but the league wouldn’t allow it. They made that clear when I opted out.”
The 16-year-veteran acknowledged that his presence could have helped the Blazers, especially with the team’s current defensive struggles. He noted that his size would have been especially helpful in guarding someone as talented as LeBron James.
“When you’re playing against guys like LeBron, you need to try to take them out of their comfort zone,” Ariza said. “Get them out of their routine, bother them as much as you can. We did a better job of that in Games 1 and 2 than we did in Game 3.”
Ariza talked about more than just the Blazers with MacMullan, including what he learned in his time with his son and the impact the late Kobe Bryant had on his career. You can read about it all here.