Blazers Hit Playground, Classroom For NBA Cares Event At Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School


Victor Claver, Joel Freeland and Wesley Matthews play with the kids at Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School in North Portland.

The Portland Trail Blazers weren’t on the court on Monday but were on the playground and in the classroom for an NBA Cares and Make It Better event at Boise-Eliot/Humboldt elementary in Portland.

The event was also where the Blazers officially announced five their community partnerships including Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest, Boys & Girls Club of Portland Metro, Playworks, SMART (Start Making A Reader) and the Urban League of Portland.

Wesley Matthews and Joel Freeland got into a pretty intense four square battle.

And then Matthews and CJ McCollum competed in some tether ball.

Other Blazers players, coaches and broadcasters were inside the school talking to classrooms and gyms full of students. Many players reminisced about their favorite recess games. For Wesley Matthews it was kickball, for Will Barton it was flag football or if you were Joel Freeland or Victor Claver, neither.

For coach Terry Stotts, whose parents were teachers, the event strikes a personal cord.

“My Dad was a high school teacher and my Mom was elementary and middle school teacher so I imagine the impact that they had on the kids that they taught growing up,” he said.  “I know how important this is for the kids here at school and for the teachers just to know that there’s help out there and people care.”


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“Man it means the most to me,” said Will Barton on going to the event. “When I was young we didn’t have no pros come to our school ever. So had that ever happened to us I know that would have been big for me, I would have had a great day. Being able to do that now as a pro and be able to reach kids, it’s a blessing.”



But the Blazers weren’t the only ones who were brightening up the day of others. A few teachers at the school remembered that October 14, tomorrow, is Wesley Matthews’ birthday. They bought him a small cake and some students pitched in to make the sign. I got a picture of it but here’s a much better one via @bruceely on twitter.


“I had no idea they were going to do this, it’s very humbling, it’s awesome I really don’t have words for it,” said Matthews. ”

“It was fun to give these kids a day that hopefully they will always remember and it’s something we’ll always remember. To give back to the community, something so close to the Moda Center, it was a lot of fun out there.”

Stotts said that the event can be beneficial for a group on multiple levels.

“I think there’s an intrinsic value of for the players themselves in going out and being in the community and reaching out to kids or whatever the event is and giving themselves understanding of what other things there are out there. From a team standpoint I think it’s a great team building experience. You look here, everybody’s have their stories that they have from the day and it’s a commonality that they will be able to share.”




Erik Gundersen

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's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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