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How Norman Powell Became The Grind

Before injuring his knee against the Suns, Powell spoke with AJ McCord of KOIN about his work ethic and signing with the Blazers.

NBA: Phoenix Suns at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Trail Blazers have had a mixed bag to the start of their season, with a first game loss followed by a win in which Norman Powell injured his knee. It is just illustrative of the challenges the Blazers face this season, with a new coach, new-look bench, and a long season ahead of them.

That said, the team isn’t shying away from a challenge. AJ McCord of KOIN writes that the Blazers have been saying this since training camp. Norman Powell knows this all too well, reports McCord.

“Obviously, there’s going to be some rough patches, you’re bringing in a whole new coaching staff, you’re trying to learn how they want to do things, especially for those guys. They’ve been stuck in one way, playing one brand of basketball, so really breaking those old habits and picking up a new style of play and making that your every day, you know there’s going to be some ups and downs in trying to do that.”

Norman Powell knew all these things this summer. When he was being courted by multiple teams in free agency, he knew a path to a title that went through Portland would be far from an easy one. It would require a commitment to the little things, that could lead to big things, including a championship few would see coming.

He chose the Blazers not in spite of that, but because of that.

During the off-season, both Lillard and guard CJ McCollum reached out to Powell, letting him know he was an integral part of the team.

“Telling me he wanted me back,” Powell said of the texts from the Blazers’ franchise player.

CJ McCollum’s name scrolled across Powell’s phone screen this summer as well, but not in the form of a text.

“I’m a random FaceTime guy, so I randomly FaceTimed him, just to check on him,” McCollum said with a smile. “I reached out to him throughout the process.”

Both Blazers’ guards, as well as General Manager Neil Olshey made it obvious to Powell; they wanted him back in Portland.

“You want to go where the team and the players see value in what you bring to the table and Portland definitely saw that in me.”

“I’ve always been a person of loyalty, of going where the love is.”

McCord also paints a picture of Powell’s childhood and how his uncle — and actual paint —played a role in the man and the player he is today.

Powell remembers being 10, maybe 11 years old, and driving around with Raymond while he went on jobs for the painting business he owned, RCP Painting.

“I was trying to figure out how to paint and he’d be on me about details of the paint.”

Details like how the best paint jobs are really the best prep jobs.

The lesson in paying attention to the details carried over to the court when the two would head to Balboa Park, where they spent hours shooting around and playing 1-on-1.

“It carried over into how I worked out, being really meticulous about getting things done the right way.”

“I would always want to stay until I beat him,” Powell remembers. “I don’t think I ever beat him straight up, I think he let me beat him.”

We wish Norm the best while he deals with his knee injury, and we know it won’t stop the grind.

You can read the full story here.