Monday marked the annual Media Day gathering around NBA markets across the league, and as I drove to the Rose Garden for the dog and pony show with the Blazers I couldn’t help but reminisce about my first Media Day covering for HOOPSWORLD.
It was back in 2005 with the New Jersey Nets. The half-hour bus ride from mid-town Manhattan wasn’t bad. Getting off at the wrong bus stop sucked. So did walking about a mile to an East Rutherford used car lot to phone a cab. But I made it. And now three years later – and entering my second season in Portland with the Blazers – I constantly remind myself what it is like to be the new kid on the block.
It’s the one way to swallow reality knowing this can all be gone in a second. It also makes me re-realize covering the league is a unique experience without fail.
Time to start fresh.
For those not privy to the doldrums of Media Day, imagine the Westminster Kennel Club for the NBA.
The players hate it. They are moved and prodded from station to station – pictures, promotion spots, more pictures and finally interviews with everyone and their grandma-ma.
The media tolerates it. Don’t worry about getting an exclusive. It’s not going to happen, or at least not in the fashion it occurs during the regular season once the hoopla dies down. Come to think of it, the hoopla may never die down in Portland this year. Plenty of press around thus far.
Felt like I was back at Madison Square Garden.
Maybe a slow start out of the gate will solve that. Portland does open 10 of 16 on the road, and 12 of those 16 against a stacked West. Let’s remember: they went 13-28 on the road last year; 26-26 overall against the rest of the Western Conference. Let’s just be real – it could be a rude awakening for the youngest team in the league to open the season. As one longtime sportswriter said to me as we waited for the first interviewee to stroll in, “I almost like when they lose more. It makes for a better story.”
Okay, now it really feels like Madison Square Garden, minus all the buyout talk from the franchises so-called “star” player.
Some quick thoughts from Monday:
-There is a reason so many in the press speak so highly of Brandon Roy. And the more you interact with him, the more you appreciate who he is and what he stands for. In this league, you don’t find that everywhere. Roy said he’s ready to be a more vocal leader this year and there is no doubt the rest of the guys will gladly listen to him.
-Greg Oden looks huge (as you can see) and is a far better interview one on one. There’s too much distraction and not enough authenticity when the crowd is around. It’s true. Can only imagine the scene at the practice facility today when the big fellas rolled his ankle and sat out the end of practice. I’m sure Nate McMillan loved fielding that question a hundered times over.
-I’m going to steal a line from Joe Freeman, the second best Blazers beat writer at the Oregonian – and fellow Red Sox diehard: LaMarcus Aldridge is a sleeping giant. Enough said.
-Jerryd Bayless is going to fit in nicely. The kid is fearless in words and wit and he already knows his role. Bayless will have to fight for minutes but don’t be surprised if he gets them early and often. Looking forward to getting to know this kid more this year.
-Martell Webster is playing for his future in Portland. Plain and simple. He knows what is expected of him and now only has to go out and deliver – as I touched on today at HOOPSWORLD. Watched the guy put in work the past few months and he looks and sounds legit. We’ll see how that translates to the regular season.
-Some things never change – Travis Outlaw still cracks me up and General Manager Kevin Pritchard remains kind with his time looking ahead to what should be a very interesting season.
pic via: Yahoo Sports