CSN goes inside the Lillard home where mother thanks God for blessings

Damian Lillard mom Gina Johnson

CSN goes inside the Lillard home where mother thanks God for blessings

by Chris Haynes

PORTLAND, Ore -- Ribs, chicken, steak and hotdogs are fresh off the grill this Saturday evening.

The living room, kitchen, and dining room are filled to capacity with family and friends in this beautiful multimillion-dollar Lake Oswego home.

Gina Johnson is having a great day.

Game 3 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series is on the tube. For Gina, it’s just like old times in east Oakland. These occasions haven’t ensued much since her youngest son became worth more than $100 million in only his second year in the NBA. She says it’s been tough to get the family up to Oregon all at one time. But on this day, everything worked out.

“God is good,” Gina says.

Everyone has gathered together for Albert’s 78th birthday. He is the father of Gina, and if you didn’t know by now, the grandfather of Portland Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard.

Houston Sr., Lillard’s father, lays the food out on the table. Rookie CJ McCollum arrives with his cousin at the appropriate time. It’s time to chow down. Gina says grace, thanking the Lord for the years He has provided her dad and for the people that came to celebrate this day with them.

Oscar, the grill chef aficionado and brother of Gina, without delay breaks out the dominoes and challenges anyone who thinks they can dethrone the self-proclaimed champ. A stud out of Fresno is pressured into playing. The results of that game shall not be revealed.

Trail Blazers assistant coach David Vanterpool drops by and has a plate. He then makes his way to the living room sofa where Lillard is sitting, fixated on the game. The two begin to dissect what’s taking place.

“Domino,” Oscar shouted followed by a long, loud chuckle, prompting everyone to glance at his direction. In the meantime, Gina is relaxing on the couch beside Lillard and Vanterpool, taking in the scenery. She was soaking up the moment.

“I love the fact that I don’t have to work no more,” Gina said. “I just take the kids to school and handle the bills. I love having my family all together. I am truly a blessed individual.”

Nevertheless, things weren’t always fine and dandy for her and family. For 18 long years, Gina had worked for a medical insurance company. She became sick during the latter part of her tenure. Frequent hospital visits made it severely complicated to attend work on a regular basis.

“I was so stressed out,” she said. “I didn’t know what to do. There was so much going on. I just kept praying that God would deliver me.”

God answers prayers.

This was around the time Lillard was going through his pre-draft workouts and good reports were surfacing due to his strong showings. He had cemented his status as the best point guard in his draft class. Once it got to that point, Lillard ordered his mother to make a phone call.

“I told her to call them and tell them that we quit,” Lillard shouted, and then he proceeded to bust out in laughter. “We’re out of here.”

“You’re crazy, “ Lillard’s aunt Vanessa immediately said to him while cracking up. “You’re acting like you worked there.”

Two weeks later, the Portland Trail Blazers selected Lillard with the No. 6 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. His life and hers, would change forever. He took home Rookie of the Year honors, this year he became an NBA All-Star and most recently he inked an eight-year shoe endorsement extension with Adidas that is worth in the ballpark of $100 million.

Thanks to proper treatment, Gina no longer experiences those health problems nor has to worry about job security. She has moved on with her life. Nowadays, it’s strictly about making sure she’s there for her children and two grandkids. She’s happy she can concentrate on that with Lillard accomplishing feat after feat.

“He threw a touchdown,” Gina yells, looking at a live game on her laptop of her oldest son, Houston, who is the starting quarterback for the Tri-Cities Fever of the Indoor Football League. She's proud of her kids. No matter the distance, she’s supporting her family. That hasn’t changed.

It had to be some ride coming from struggling conditions to where they are now. Lillard’s fame has skyrocketed overnight, it seems. But, through it all, Gina says her son is still the same old Dame. And that’s what she’s most delighted about.

“He hasn’t changed one bit,” Gina expressed as she turned Lillard’s way. “He’s still that same respectful kid he was as a young boy. He takes care of his family and does what he can for people. The money and the fame haven’t changed him and that’s what I’m most proud of. He’s a good human being.”

Before my wife and I departed, Gina urged us to take some food home, which we obliged. Meanwhile, McCollum is getting rocked at the domino table.

“You have to do more than count to play this game,” Oscar jokingly said at McCollum’s expense.

The night was filled with lots of food, laughter, quality people and most importantly, love. That’s what you can expect when you’re around Gina and family. 

Trail Blazers FanFest slated for October 2nd

Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers FanFest slated for October 2nd

Fans will have their first opportunity to watch the 2016-17 Portland Trail Blazers live in action when the team holds its 12th annual Wells Fargo Fan Fest on Sunday, Oct. 2, at the Moda Center.

The free event features first-come, first-served general admission seating, with doors opening at 3 p.m. The afternoon will be headlined by an intra-squad scrimmage at 4 p.m.

Free family passes are available now at all Wells Fargo branches in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Parking on the Rose Quarter campus will be free, subject to availability. Fans may click on the link at http://www.nba.com/blazers/fanfest to download their tickets.

Wells Fargo Fan Fest is a great opportunity for fans to get an up-close look at this year’s Trail Blazers, including NBA All-Star Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, Al Farouq Aminu and more.

Fans will also get a chance to see performances by this year’s BlazerDancers and Stunt Team, and receive prize giveaways from team mascot Blaze the Trail Cat.

The Trail Blazers Foundation and Wells Fargo are taking it to the court once again to offer $100,000 in grants for schools across Oregon and Southwest Washington in support of their academic, art, athletic or community programs. Visit trailblazers.com/takeittothecourt between Oct. 2, 2016 and Jan. 1, 2017, to apply for up to $10,000 for your school.

Trail Blazers add Greg Stiemsma to training camp roster


Trail Blazers add Greg Stiemsma to training camp roster


The Portland Trail Blazers have signed center Greg Stiemsma to a training camp contract, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

In four NBA seasons with Boston, Minnesota, New Orleans and Toronto, Stiemsma (6-11, 260) has averages of 3.2 points (50.9% FG, 70.5% FT), 3.3 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 1.14 steals and 15.0 minutes in 203 career games (42 starts).

He will wear No. 54 for the Trail Blazers.


The Portland Trail Blazers are bolstering their fall camp roster, this time with a big man. 

In a report from on Twitter by Adrian Wojanorowski of The Vertical, 

Stiemsma is not new to the NBA. He's 30. After four seasons in international and D-League play, in which he earned 2010 NBA D-League Defensive Player of the year, he got his chance in the NBA with the Boston Celtics. In his 203 career NBA games in which he's suited up for Boston, Minnesota, New Orelans and Toronto, Stiemsma has averaged 3.2 points and 3.3 rebounds. He's started 42 games.  

His most recent stint in the NBA came in Toronto, where he played in 17 games during the 2014-15 season. 

A camp invite for the Orlando Magic last season, the 6'11" big man was waived following an Achilles' strain that prevented him from competing in preseason competition. 

The Trail Blazers currently have just 14 players with guaranteed salaries, so the former undrafted Wisconsin grad will battle Tim Quarterman ($75,000 guaranteed), Luis Montero  (unguaranteed) and Grant Jerrett (unguaranteed) for that last regular-season roster spot.

Portland is pretty deep with big men: Mason Plumlee, Meyers Leonard, Ed Davis, Noah Vonleh and Festus Ezeli. But Leonard’s and Ezeli’s injuries could open the door for Stiemsma, so he's an intriguing addition to this Blazers squad.

The world of AAU basketball: Gary Trent's son transfers to a P.O. box

The world of AAU basketball: Gary Trent's son transfers to a P.O. box

Greg Doyel is one of the best columnists in the country and he's got a great story about the son of former Jail Blazer Gary Trent, an up-and-coming high school star, transferring from his Indianapolis high school to a prep school that isn't really a school.

The senior Trent was a poster child for the era when Trail Blazer players were known more for their appearances in court than on the court. He notoriously punched his pregnant girlfriend in the face and kicked her in the ribs. In separate incidences, he allegedly punched and choked a man and hit another over the head with a pool cue. If you're new to the area or just want a refresher course on those dark days of the Trail Blazers, you can find the text of an "Outside the Lines" show on ESPN that sums up just some of the team's problems.

Well, anyway, Trent's son, a senior, is going to transfer to a "prep school" in Napa, Calif. --  Prolific Prep -- that really isn't a school at all. It's a basketball program that houses its players with a host family and sends them to a nearby Catholic school for their education. The "school" has a website but no physical address. I bet they have nice uniforms, though. It's, of course, not the first "school" of this type to make basketball its top priority.

It's a very interesting tale about what a segment of the current basketball development process has become in this country and I recommend it.

Damian Lillard raps about the grind and loyalty in latest track


Damian Lillard raps about the grind and loyalty in latest track

The Portland Trail Blazers were hard at work in San Diego this week, with nearly every roster player in attendance preparing for the upcoming season ahead. 

Though, while All-Star point guard Damian Lillard works to build another playoff caliber team, Dame DOLLA remains in mid-season form. 

What'd you think?

Trail Blazers License Plates are now available

Trail Blazers License Plates are now available

The Portland Trail Blazers specialty license plate is now available.  The  license plates were authorized by the 2015 Oregon Legislature and were debuted during the Trail Blazers home game versus the Atlanta Hawks on January 20th, 2016

The license plate is only for passenger vehicles titled and registered in the state of Oregon. 



In addition to regular title, registration and plate manufacturing fees, the Trail Blazers specialty plate has an additional $40 surcharge due when you first order the plate and again every time you need to renew your registration.  All of the surcharge funds will go directly to the Trail Blazers Foundation.

Blazers back in San Diego for offseason team retreat 2.0


Blazers back in San Diego for offseason team retreat 2.0

Voluntary workouts may have begun for NBA players, though for members of the Trail Blazers, they're anything but. 

In what became one of the largest, most defining moments in which the entire season's foundation was built off of, members of the Trail Blazers have returned to San Diego for team bonding and summer workouts, and it seems they have better turnover. 

If you follow CJ McCollum on Snapchat, you would know that he arrived in San Diego off a tour from China where he visited both Beijing and Shanghai on behalf of the NBA. 

In his Snapchat story, McCollum, along with Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier, Maurice Harkless, Pat Connaughton, Festus Ezeli and assistant David Vanterpool have spent time on campus at San Diego State University where they worked out and at various restaurants as a group around town. So far, 11 have been spotted on CJ's Snapchat.

Jake Layman, Mason Plumlee and Luis Montero have not shown up on CJ's story yet, though that doesn't mean they're not there. Noah Vonleh, who underwent a procedure to remove a bone fragment from his right thigh, was not in attendance. Vonleh was in San Diego last year. 

We'll continue to update you all the latest goings on. Stay tuned!

Podfather Godcast with Kevin Calabro


Podfather Godcast with Kevin Calabro

Dwight breaks down the latest in local sports and talks extensively with Trail Blazers new TV voice Kevin Calabro. How does he think Blazers fans will receive him being a former enemy of the state as the Sonics announcer. And why take up a local gig again? Learn more about Calabro here. Check back every Thursday (or subscribe on iTunes) for a new podcast.

Plus, you don't want miss Dwight's rant on Portland traffic. He hates it more than anyone!


Trail Blazers release TV Broadcast Schedule - 60 Games on CSN

Trail Blazers release TV Broadcast Schedule - 60 Games on CSN

The official TV Broadcast Schedule for the 2016-2017 season was released today by the Portland Trail Blazers. 

It features 60 games exclusively on CSN plus 15 games aired locally on KGW and another seven nationally televised games (six on TNT, one on ESPN).

This season will also feature a revamped broadcast team including new Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd calling the action along with Brooke Olzendam working the sidelines.

Download Link 

Trail Blazers finalize new broadcast team

Trail Blazers finalize new broadcast team

Earlier this summer, the Trail Blazers made waves in the Portland market when they announced long time TV broadcasters Mike Barrett and Mike Rice would not be returning to the team for the 2016-2017 season. The team also let go radio broadcaster Antonio Harvey in the process.

On June 17th, the team announced that former Seattle Sonics play by play man Kevin Calabro would take over Barrett's job. Calabro had been doing radio play by play for a variety of national broadcasters for both NBA and NCAA basketball as well as some TV work for the Pac-12 Network. 

Today, the Blazers round out the new look broadcast team. Former Oregon State star, Lamar Hurd, takes over the color commentary role previously held by Mike Rice. After his OSU playing days, Hurd played professionally in Germany but returned home in 2007. Hurd started his broadcast career with FSN/Root Sports in 2008 and since 2012, he has been doing TV work for the Pac-12 network as a studio and game analyst and you may remember him from some apperances on CSN's Talkin' Beavers. 

In another effort to bolster the broadcast team, the Blazers have hired CSN's Brooke Olzendam to be their full-time sideline reporter. In previous years, Michael Holton has worked the sidelines for the team in some capacity but a consistent sideline reporter at all games will be a new addition. Olzendam previously worked the sidelines for FS Indiana while covering the Pacers.

Not only will the on-court broadcast team have a new look, but the studio crew will get a makeover as well. Former three-sport star from Oregon, Jordan Kent, will take over duties as the primary pregame, halftime, and postgame host alongside Holton in the analyst role. Kent has been seen widly across CSN over the past few years as the host of Talkin' Ducks, Track Town, and Postagme Live as well as a host and analyst on Talkin' Ball. Kent has also done work for various other media outlets including ESPN on the track and field side. 

As in years past, you catch Rip City Live on CSN one hour before tip-off of every Blazer game plus Talkin' Ball immediately after each game. We'll also have a live web only pre and postgame show, The Scoop, streaming to your phones/tablets/computer at CSNNW.com and on Facebook.com/CSNNW before and after every game this season. Plus year-round coverage on social media and right here at CSNNW.com from our Insider Jason Quick, the Godfather Dwight Jaynes, and our Digital Reporter Jamie Hudson