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linfieldrunner

Jan 22

Behind The Scenes: Trail Blazers Practice Facility PART THREE

By linfieldrunner

You know, it’s really funny the way life works sometimes.

This morning, I was actually not looking forward to going to the Blazers’ practice facility for a third time after they lost to Washington. What a horrible loss that was. Don’t even get me started, because I’m still speechless.

However, in just a couple hours of being there, my mood took an amazing, spectacular, and above all, unexpected turn for the better.

But let’s start from what happened earlier for clarity’s sake. 

 

My mood hit rock bottom on the way to the facility. Jason, my boss, usually has 1080 The Fan playing in his car and the Travis and Wilcox show was starting. To open the show, they had an audio clip of the last possession of the Blazers-Wizards game, but it was Washington’s audio off of CSN Radio-D.C., I believe. So…you know what happened. Jordan Crawford hits the buzzer-beating three for the Wiz, the Rose Garden crowd goes completely silent for probably the first time in its history, and the announcers are just going crazy.

And I’m just thinking…somebody make something happen so I can get out of this car. I mean, I wasn’t actually going to ditch this whole internship and actually get out like that, but it really made me upset. I’ve watched the Blazers since I was 7, and I’ve seen them lose countless games, but that loss last night is easily the second-worst loss I have ever seenEver. (The absolute worst was Game 7 in the 2000 Western Conference Finals, but don’t get me started on that, either. I’m still speechless after 13 years!)

So Travis and Wilcox are trying to dissect this game and the 6-game losing streak (and counting…) and I’m trying to make sense of it all as well, and by the time we pull into the parking lot close to the facility, I’m nothing but edgy.

Here’s a better picture of my mood. The first two times I stepped into the facility’s basketball court complex, I was beaming all over.

This time, my face had no emotion, and I was just plain sullen.

I was practically the Grinch in the room.

And of course, I knew that I had to suck it up because I’m a media guy here, right? I can’t give off any bad vibes like I’m rooting for anyone, right? So I try to look for positives from what’s going on in front of me.

Surprisingly, after I look hard enough, there are plenty!

The morale of the players and coaches is completely identical to the morale I saw the last two times. Everyone’s loose and having a great time, “business as usual.” No one’s sulking except for me. That’s great for the Blazers, and actually great for me because it helps me get rid of the raincloud over my head after about 5-10 minutes.

In front of me, Wesley Matthews and Triano, the coach I talked to the first time I came in here, are laughing while Wes is shooting threes, just cracking jokes. I couldn’t help but laugh myself. Now I’m feeling better.

Jason asked around and found out that Damian Lillard didn’t practice today because of a sore hamstring that’s getting looked at. He’s not here. No one told Jason beforehand, so I learned to always look for all the players on the floor in these situations and ask if you don’t see a guy you expect to see.

Now Terry Stotts is coming over to his determined “spot” for the informal press conference.

Today, I’m the one holding the fancy mike!

Jason’s still by me asking his questions like I knew he would, but again, I’m holding this mike just inches away from Stotts’ mouth!

My arm is getting tired! It’s been a few minutes straight from holding this darn mike but I don’t care!

The last official question is asked and most of the media walks away. I briefly turn off the voice recorder.

And then…right there…Stotts asks this question.

 

“Linfield College?” 

 

He saw my Linfield polo shirt!

“Yeah,” I say, startled but calm on the outside this time.

Did Triano tell him?

“Do you go there now?” “Yeah, I’m a junior and I’m interning for this guy,” pointing to Jason.

“Oh, so do they pay you just to hold the mike? You don’t have any questions for me?”

Keep in mind, he saw me right by Jason last Thursday just standing there during the last informal conference. (And no, I don’t get paid at all, but saying that went past me.)

I laugh out of sheer nervousness. “Well, um…I didn’t know I could ask! Um…I had no idea.”

And Jason says slowly, “Yeah! Yeah, if he has anything…you know…I’m expecting him to ask some stuff.”

Stotts flashes a huge grin. “Turn that back on,” he says as he points to my recorder. “Ask away.”

At this point, my face has turned multiple shades of red. I can literally feel myself blushing. All I can do is stammer as I try to quickly figure out just what the heck I’m going to ask the head honcho!

Within a matter of seconds, I’m asking him, off the top of my head, about Lillard’s impressive 37-point performance at Golden State about a week ago and if he thought Lillard might repeat it soon. Not the best question after last night, but he answered it professionally and cordially as if I were a renowned media figure.

“Thanks, coach,” I manage to say with confidence at the end.

“Great job,” he says back. Then he walks away, still smiling.

Jason’s beaming.

I’m beaming.

Just like a dad might say, Jason tells me, “You know…you might want to save that audio.”

And then I remember…that the recorder was in fact turned on then and I got the question recorded.

I will always have it for the rest of my life. Once I get it transferred to a flash drive tomorrow.

“Don’t be bashful,” Jason adds. “Coach Stotts is the nicest guy out there.”

You can say that again, I say to myself.

Wow.

And if that wasn’t enough, I finally got to meet Jason Quick, the Blazers beat reporter from the Oregonian. I told him I was a fan of most of his work after reading it for years and years and years, and by “most” I meant 99% of it. That definitely got a laugh from him. At first he was like, “Uh-oh!” just to tease me.

And then I got into a lengthy discussion with Talkin' Ball's Chris Haynes and LINFIELD GRAD Sarah Hecht about various Linfield-related topics such as the revitalized Black Student Union, where Linfield is in Oregon (Chris honestly had no idea, which I thought was funny) and yes…even Info Gathering. Turns out Sarah was also a nerd in college with a high GPA, just like me. We both aced the class, although we both still don’t know how bad the scarring from the experience is. :)

Anyway, the last thing we talked about is how I’m a “journalism” major but don’t have Twitter. Let me tell you right now, if there’s just one thing I learned from this internship, it’s that I don’t just want Twitter because professors say so, it’s that I need Twitter. So I will have an account by the end of this week, I guarantee it. Just like the guy with the deep voice on those Men’s Wearhouse commercials. “You’re gonna like the way you tweet. I guarantee it.”

So what I thought would be an awful day on the job turned out to be one of the best days ever.

That’s life sometimes. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

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