Leonard injury update, and why a recent good deed by the Blazers brought a bad omen
Trail Blazers rookie center Meyers Leonard suffered a right ankle sprain on Saturday night that made most people who watched it recoil in disgust. Leonard did NOT travel with the team Sunday morning to New York. No word on whether when or if he’ll join the team on its four-game road trip. The Blazers begin with a New Year’s Day matchup against the Knicks.
So, what to make of Leonard not initially joining the team on its flight to the East Coast? Maybe it’s more serious, or maybe the Blazers just didn’t want him to fly so soon after spraining his ankle (there’s certainly a discomfort in travelling with swollen/sprained ankles, read here.)
But, this blog is not to speculate. After all, I did not see Leonard after last night’s game and did not get a chance to talk to him directly. So your guess about him not travelling is as good as mine.
Even so, the sight of Leonard being helped off the court Saturday night, his right leg suspended in the air, brought back a recent memory. This one involving his left ankle.
On Dec. 19, the Blazers – players, coaches and front-office staffers – visited the St. Mary’s Home for Boys for a special scrimmage and check presentation. As you would imagine, the “scrimmage” was a light and fun affair. The kids from St. Mary’s hustled back on defense and played seriously, while the Blazers took it easy, jacking up long threes and putting on a dunk show whenever possible. Of course, that’s where the story starts with Leonard: the dude who loves to dunk.
After one particular play at the rim, Leonard came down to the court with an ungraceful landing. He flashed an “uh oh!” look and cartoonishly spread out on the court while the action moved the other way. He stayed there, coach Terry Stotts – performing the duty as the only on-court referee – turned to look at Leonard for a few beats then turned back around. Leonard finally got up and when one of the St. Mary’s officials, wearing the face of a concerned mother, walked towards him, Leonard smiled and said, “I’m fine.”
However, Leonard walked with a slight hitch and exited straight for a side room of the gym, a Blazer staffer followed, and he remained there for the duration of the scrimmage. When Leonard emerged, a bag of ice over his left ankle had replaced his Jordans and socks.
When teammate Damian Lillard saw Leonard iced up, he stopped in his tracks and said, “Oh, my God!” Lillard then looked at the reporters at the side and joked that “this is not for the newspaper.” I asked Leonard about his ankle and he brushed me off. Didn’t know what to make of the spill and bag of ice – the big goofy rookie could have been pretending to have an injury in this “game” to add an element of showmanship for the kids.
Leonard left St. Mary’s that day without the bag of ice and looked perfectly able and healthy the next night when the Blazers hosted the Nuggets.
Now, 10 days later, it’s the other ankle – and this time, everyone could see that Leonard wasn’t joking around.