Aug 05

Batum Back With Team France, Lillard At The Movies

By caseyholdahl

The NBA season has been over for well over a month, but with the lottery, the draft, free agency and summer league, the real NBA offseason doesn't start until August. There's still a few news items to tend to between now at the start of training camp (Tuesday's schedule announcement being the big one), but it'll be relatively quiet until the end of September, or at least it should be.

Having said that, some small bits of Trail Blazers news from the past few days.

-- Eurobasket 2013 (otherwise known as the European Championships) doesn't officially get underway until September, but teams are starting their scheduled friendlies in preparation for the event. Nicolas Batum, a starter on the French National Team, turned in a 14-point, six-rebound performance in France's 101-93 victory against Finland in Pau, France on Friday. The Finns were lead by Petteri Koponen (22 points, nine assists), whose rights were owned at one time by the Trail Blazers.

-- Damian Lillard talked to Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports about his personal connection to the movie "Fruitvale Station".
"Fruitvale Station" is based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young African-American who, while handcuffed with his face to the ground, was shot in the back and killed by a transit police officer in the early morning of New Year's Day 2009. Grant's death sparked mass protests in Oakland.

Lillard says he became familiar with Grant through his older brother, Houston, who knew Grant well. Lillard learned of Grant's death while attending Weber State University.


"You don't see a lot of movies that are actually based in Oakland and give a chance to see what people are going through there every day," Lillard said. "It was nerve-wracking to see in the movie how they had everything down pat and how they eventually went through the day in the life of a lot of people, a lot of young men in Oakland.

"At the end it was breathtaking how [Grant] kept saying after he was shot that he had a daughter, you see how friends were [helpless] and see how his family came together. This wasn't just a movie. This really happened. At that point, I kind of sat in my seat and was like, 'Wow.' "
-- James Herbert at SB Nation wrote a lengthy profile about CJ McCollum's path from Lehigh to the NBA.
Krueger fondly remembers McCollum showing up as an unguardable "little guy" who could shoot and make things happen off the dribble. After countless extra hours in Lehigh's Stabler Arena -- some with teammates, some with Krueger, some with no company but The Gun -- he became more polished and efficient. His peers noticed, which is why they didn't mind McCollum getting the vast majority of the accolades and shots.

"We know that he's the guy that's worked out the most, hitting the most shots," Knutson says. "Yeah, he could take bad shots here or there but when he's said to me specifically and to other teammates, ‘I'm not going to pass you the ball because you don't stay after practice and shoot as much as me. I would rather a contested shot because I've worked on it more than you have.' When you hear that, you're kind of like, oh shit."

McCollum wasn't being a bully. This was his way of motivating and encouraging guys to stay late with him. Long before McCollum had even heard of Lehigh, his brother, Errick -- now a professional who has played in Greece and Israel -- woke him up in the morning to get to work. By the time he made it to college, he didn't need anyone pushing him.
-- Former Trail Blazer and No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden has signed with the Miami Heat. Best of luck to both parties.


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