Every year the countdown to the beginning of the Trail Blazers season feels like it really begins when the team comes together to execute their first official duty, media day. I spent yesterday running around snapping photos, tweeting and Instagramming to bring you a glimpse of what it's like behind the scenes. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the day and a few tales you won't hear anywhere else.
Nicolas Batum was the first player to begin the daunting task of traveling through the many media stations, but he made a great choice in starting with Todd Bosma and the filming of the in-arena favorite, "Name That Tune." To fully tell this story I'd have to reveal what Nic was listening to, but I'm not going to give anything away. So just know, "Name That Tune" will be just as glorious this year as it has been in the past.
Fans are going to LOVE this guy. Jared Jeffries was more than I could've ever expected from a player on media day—media day is usually a grueling task and is thus treated as a thorn in everyone's side. Every time I saw him Jeffries was dancing, singing or laughing. He belted out "Living On A Prayer" while signing 500 basketballs and danced as the playlist continued.
The above photo of Jeffries doesn't seem like the "typical" media day photo, and it's not. This is a little glimpse at one of the brand new openers for the jumbotron come game night. Again, I'm not going to spill the beans on this one, but each of the guys did some pretty incredible superhero-esque poses that'll thrill the Rose Garden crowds.
Here's a more traditional view of media day—posing for photos with a handler perfecting every inch of your jersey before the camera clicks. Wesley Matthews was on point all day. The excitement and intensity we've come to expect from the shooting guard was evident. Also on display was his health. He's said in previous weeks that he hasn't been completely healthy in his NBA career until now, a fact he demonstrated as he turned a corner near the locker room by jumping up the wall and into an adjacent hallway.
Another Matthews favorite, the ever-morphing display of the "three goggles," has taken on it's next rendition, the "three salute." Check out this pic Mike Barrett posted on his Twitter page too see the salute in action
There are certain things relegated to rookies on media day, things like holding balloons, wearing party hats, eating Chalupas and generally doing anything cheesy that the game operations crew needs to put on a great show. LaMarcus Aldridge, now a seasoned veteran, wanted less than nothing to do with the silly shenanigans. But that doesn't mean his laid-back demeanor was off the hook completely, and for a day when his director wanted "energy!" LA couldn't have been in better spirits. He showed the camera energy and he showed the camera serious—the conundrum being he often cracked into laughter during his serious moments when producers had to squeeze camera-sized enthusiasm out of the big man.
LA gave me two of favorite moments of the day, one being his reaction the first time he tried on his new red alternate uniform. He rolled out of the locker room tugging at the shorts saying they were too tight while his deep laugh filled the halls. The second was up on the 300 level where most of the photos were taken. Each station was divided by black curtains and the entries into the arena were covered too. As I walked to the station he was supposed to be at I couldn't find him. I scanned the area a few times until I finally noticed a huge pair of shoes peeking out from below sea of black fabric, I glanced up to see LA's smiling face poking between the curtains—he'd seen me searching and thought he was sneaky. I snapped a few pics of this moment, but unfortunately they didn't turn out. Sad face.
Meyers Leonard is one of the most down to earth guys I've ever met. Every time I saw him he was joking around. During this specific video he was captured in dramatic lighting with no sound, purely a visual shoot. But while they were shooting he was chatting with the cameraman. At one point he leaned back in his seat and put his left arm on the chair. When the cameraman asked him about the meaning behind the word "Forever" tattooed on his inner arm he leaned back a bit more and showed the word "Blessed" on his right arm. He chuckled a bit then responded, "It means blessed forever."
And last, but definitely not least, J.J. Hickson. He and LA joined the staff for some pizza. Good times.