Blazer Banter

Links: Nicolas Batum on being a GM, Aldridge interview

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

The last few days have been pretty heavy on Trail Blazers content the last few days.

LaMarcus Aldridge was interviewed by Kevin Arnovitz on ESPN.com’s TruehoopTV. Here is the link to the original posting of the video. Among other things, Aldridge talks about the unselfishness of his team, his confidence and when he learned that the left side of the block was his sweet-spot.

Nicolas Batum’s role as the GM of Caen Basket Calvados was a brief note in an article in the Columbian about Batum but Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com dug deeper to learn more about Batum’s duties. Batum decided to help his old club when they were having financial difficulties.

Batum’s relationship with Caen Basket Calvados goes back over 10 years, as the city of Caen, situated 10 miles from the English Channel in the Lower Normandy region of northwest France, is where Batum’s professional basketball career got its start. With a population of over 100,000, Caen was the closest big city to Batum’s hometown of Lisieux, so it was with their under-13 club program that he first experienced organized basketball in a developmental setting.

“I played for this team from 2001 to 2003, two years there,” said Batum. “I was living in a little town, I was born there, my mom was still living there. This team seemed like the biggest team in the state for us. So for me to move up to the big city, bigger teams, the only team that played in the international division in my age group, it was good for me to play there two years. I move from my little town to this pro team.”

From there, Batum would go on to play for LeMans, a French club team in a higher division, and then the NBA, but he would always remember Caen as the team that gave him his start. So when he found out the club was struggling and in danger of folding all together, he decided to step in to see if he could help.

Holdahl also has some great quotes in there from Batum about his dealing with agents.

Joe Freeman of The Oregonian and OregonLive.com caught up with the head coach of the legendary 1977 NBA Championship Trail Blazers team, Jack Ramsay. Dr. Jack said that he sees lots of similarities between the ’77 squad and this year’s team that’s gone 18-4.

“I think this team is great,” Ramsay said. “Everybody is pulling a share of the load. They’re getting critical performances from a lot of people: The point guard, big forward and center. That’s three critical positions. And then the other starters are filling in and guys off the bench are stepping up. All these things have to happen if you’re going to have a good team. And they have a chance to be a great team.”
How great?
Only time will tell. And Ramsay, who spoke to The Oregonian by phone from Pennsylvania, where he is battling health issues and undergoing treatment, isn’t ready to anoint them as title contenders just yet. But the more he watches the Blazers play and the more he thinks back to that magical 1977 season, the more similarities he sees between this team and the most celebrated in franchise history.
“They can match up with anybody, they defend well and they can score when they need to,” Ramsay said of the Blazers. “I think (coach) Terry Stotts has done an incredible job with that group. It’s kind of reminiscent of the Trail Blazers team that I got when I first came to Portland. Nobody expected anything from that team — they had never had a .500 season — but everybody did his share. I think this team has similar components.”

 

In more somber Ramsay news, Freeman reports that Dr. Jack’s health is not well. Ramsay had to leave his ESPN Radio duties due to health during the playoffs last year.

“I don’t want to get into it,” he told me in a phone interview Tuesday. “It’s not good.”
Ramsay is battling marrow syndrome, a nasty condition that inhibits the body’s ability to produce sufficient blood cells. When he retired in May, Ramsay retreated to his Naples, Fla., home for treatment.
Casey Holdahl transcribed Damian Lillard’s appearance on the Dan LeBatard radio show, where Lillard mentioned the fight in Golden State as a turning point.

Le Batard: Was there a game where you said to yourself ‘Oh, I’m no longer surprised by this. We belong here. 18-4 is not a mirage. We can do this.’ Was it winning at Golden State? Was it winning at home against Indiana?

Lillard: I think Golden State was probably the game. There was kind of a little scuffle out there and everybody on the floor was involved in it. They had each other’s back and that was the moment I realized we were all together. We lost a couple of our players. Wes had 26 points at the point he got tossed out, Mo was playing a good game, he got tossed out and we had to find a way to get it done on the road against a really good team. We found a way to get it done.

Doug Eberhart of SB Nation explained the NBA term “ATO,” which stands for plays after timeouts. In his post today he used the play the Blazers ran to get Damian Lillard his game-tying three against Dallas as an ideal example of an “ATO” play.

Eberhart writes:

Of course, Lillard made it, which is amazing and why he’s a rising star. The ATO was successful and relatively well-run, but that little bit of poor timing almost proved disastrous and turned it into a much harder finish for Portland.

If that Portland end-of-game ATO looked familiar, you either have a very good memory or you’re a fan of the “Seven Seconds or Less” Phoenix Suns. Or, you’re me. Like all good NBA coaches, Terry Stotts paid homage to one of his brethren and lifted that excellent set from D’Antoni. This is D’Antoni’s Suns running the same action six years ago to win a game in Chicago.

 

 

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers news.

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