Blazers take part in NBA Cares Day
On Monday afternoon members of the Portland Trail Blazers' organization paid a visit to three local elementary schools to celebrate NBA Cares Day.
Players, front office personnel and coaches dropped in on Ockley Green/Chief Joseph School, Gilbert Park Elementary and Byrom Elementary School where each school hosted a Trail Blazers’ Live, Learn & Play assembly.
All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard, head coach Terry Stotts, president Chris McGowan and general manager Neil Olshey attended the assembly at Ockley Green/Chief Joseph School, a school that recently merged two campuses grades K-8.
Lillard, a rising star in this league, is aware of the influence he has on kids and embraces his platform as a role model.
“It’s big just because of the impact that we can have on them because of who we are as basketball players,” Lillard said. “What we say, goes a long way to them. I think it’s important for us to be able to come out and do stuff like this. It’s always fun because you remember times like this as a kid.”
Susan Blue, principal of Ockley Green/Chief Joseph School, says the Trail Blazers’ appearance was a surprise to the 270 overjoyed students who attended today’s assembly.
They were in store for a treat.
“They loved it. Loved it,” Blue said while sporting a LaMarcus Aldridge jersey. “They were so surprised. They had no idea that the players were coming. They (students) thought it was a pep rally. It’s spirit week and we called it "Blazer Day," so they were thrilled. It was great.”
The Trail Blazers addressed the importance of teamwork, challenged students to incorporate a physical activity into their daily routines, urged them to continue achieving higher learning and asked that they always be respectful to one another.
Aldridge elaborated on why treating people with respect is a must.
“You never know who anybody can be,” Aldridge said. “I don't know how cool [Trail Blazers owner] Paul Allen was, but I think looking back some guys are probably mad that they weren’t nice to him. So I think everybody should be treated equally.”
Blue says the transition of consolidating the two schools hasn’t been the most pleasant experience for the students. However, thanks to the Trail Blazers’ message and appearance, she says she’s confident it will smooth things over from here on out.
“We really just wanted this assembly to be part of team building, a real example of team building,” Blue said. “This was an opportunity for our kids to feel really good about themselves and about joining into a new school situation…The Blazers did a great job helping with that.”
Trail Blazers players, coaches, alumni and executives will celebrate NBA Cares Day at three Portland-area elementary schools. Ockley Green/Chief Joseph in the Portland Public School District, Gilbert Park Elementary in the David Douglas School District, and Byrom Elementary School in the Tigard-Tualatin School District will host Trail Blazers Live, Learn & Play assemblies. Teachers, staff, parents and volunteers will join with students in welcoming members of the 2013-14 team as they head into NBA Opening Night. Among other things, the Trail Blazers will speak to the students about the importance of teamwork, active lifestyles and lifelong learning.
NBA Cares Week, an annual campaign celebrating the week leading up to the tip-off of the NBA season, is dedicated to bringing the team together with local organizations to call attention to the great work being done in the community. As part of the team’s ongoing commitment to make it better for children and their families in Oregon & southwest Washington, the Trail Blazers will visit the all-school assemblies to celebrate achievements and inspire students to raise the bar socially (LIVE), academically (LEARN), and physically (PLAY).