Blazer Banter

Links: Stotts leans on Aldridge, Jay Triano raps and Kobe’s endorsement

AP Photo/Don Ryan

AP Photo/Don Ryan

A little sampling of some Trail Blazers related stuff on the internet from the past few days.

ESPN and Bill Simmons’ Grantland.com sent writer Jordan Conn to Portland, and he wrote about Portland’s revival and the fan’s attitude towards the team. He also had some great stuff on LaMarcus Aldridge and how Stotts leans on him to help coach the team.

he first time Aldridge visited Portland, as a 20-year-old preparing for the 2006 NBA draft, he saw the clouds and the trees and the hills and he called his mom, back home in flat, dusty Texas, and he asked, “Where am I?”

“Do you remember the computer game you used to play as a kid?” she asked. “Oregon Trail? That’s where you are.”

“Oh,” Aldridge remembers saying, “I guess that makes sense.”

Stotts made efforts to increase Aldridge’s influence on the team. “I view this as a partnership,” says Stotts. “He has just as much invested in this team as I do.” So Stotts relies on Aldridge to serve as the voice of the players. When he’s wondering how hard to push in practice, he asks Aldridge how much the team can handle. When he’s thinking of rescheduling a flight, or of arranging a team meal, he relies on Aldridge to let him know what works best for the rest of the guys. “Before this year, I couldn’t do that,” says Aldridge. “I felt like it was my team, but if I ever spoke up, I was just forcing it. It’s more natural now.” That’s partly due to Aldridge’s maturation. It’s also partly due to Watson, who’s been known to pull Aldridge aside and remind him when it’s time to speak. And it’s partly due to Stotts, who insists on granting Aldridge ownership, sometimes even consulting him on substitution patterns, asking which of two players is a better fit at certain points in a game.

If you read the whole thing, you’ll see a quote from yours truly.

Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com had a feature on assistant coach Jay Triano and it even has the lyrics of a “Four Bar Friday” rap he prepared for the team.

Having a staff who try to break down the barriers in the relationships between players and coaches can also help motivate, as Triano does from time to time by recording his own Four Bar Fridays as a part of Lillard’s weekly Instagram-based rapping competition, The following lines were written and performed by Triano prior to a recent game against the Kings …

Shots fire, shots taken. Too many rim shots other team’s makin’
Back on defense, back in transition, here comes Cousins looking for position
Defense, hard work, ain’t a lot of fame, those are the things help you win the game
Gonna be a battle, gonna be a war, gotta stop them because we know how to score

Triano shows the videos to players and coaches during team meetings, and while his skills as a lyricist could certainly be called into question, the real value is the willingness to meet the players on their level.

“It lightens the mood and lets the player know we’re accessible,” said Triano. “I think that’s one of the things about our staff is we confer with the players. The players are going to be the ones thrown out there in front of 20,000 people. We talk to them a lot as assistant and Terry does a great job of communicating with the players, what they feel, how they’re feeling.

Eric Pincus of the Los Angeles Times has full quotes from Kobe Bryant about how he doesn’t feel like he’d be able to have the same impact if selected in the All-Star game and that fans should vote for “the Damian Lillards of the world.”

Kobe Bryant isn’t sure he should be selected to play in the 2013-14 All-Star game.

“I probably won’t be able to come back soon enough to be able to make my stamp or my mark on the game,” Bryant said before the Lakers played the Denver Nuggets on Sunday night. “My advice would be to vote for some of the younger players, the Damian Lillards of the world, because they’re more than deserving to be out there and play during that weekend.”

By last count, the NBA had Bryant as the leading vote-getter to start for the Western Conference squad, with 723,031.

 

 

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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