There is an old adage that states “attitude is everything.” The 2012-13 Portland Trail Blazers season is in its infancy for rookie center Meyers Leonard. Thus far, it seems this 20-year-old young man has the attitude to position himself in the post for the Blazers for many seasons to come.
Meyers has been described as quirky, hard-working, raw talent, and even emotional. He does come off as a pretty young guy. But then again he should … he is. It is his vibrant energy, confident smile and desire to succeed that is most impressionable.
For Blazer fans, Meyers ‘can do’ persona and gusto is a breath of fresh air. After 5 years of watching the defeated body language of Greg Oden, Meyers Leonard supplies a bit of optimism. The 7’1” center from the University of Illinois did not arrive in Portland with the same hysteria that welcomed Oden. Expectations are tempered, and that may buy Meyers the time he needs to refine his game and adjust to the NBA. A luxury that Oden was never afforded.
Meyers’ positive mindset may be a by-product of a childhood gripped with loss and family struggle. His father passed when he was 6 and his mother is reportedly housebound due to debilitating back pain. These challenges of his youth attributed to a commanding bond between Meyers and his brother Bailey, now a U.S. Marine. A YouTube video depicting a surprise reunion of the brothers has gone viral in Portland and is hard to watch with dry eyes. It is difficult not to be fan of a Meyers after watching this video; he comes across as very genuine with a ton of character.
In addition to his charisma, Meyers Leonard does possess an abundance of that always slippery word, ‘potential.’ He is very athletic and can jump like a gazelle. The best evidence of this comes from a March 2010 high school sectional game in which Meyers literally jumps over an opposing player positioned to take a charge.
One never quite knows what to expect from an NBA rookie. The league is stocked with grown men who are savvy and approach the game as a job. For some young players, the grind of the NBA breaks their will and makes star college and high school players seem ordinary. The young players who survive and go onto succeed are the ones with the right attitude. So far it seems Meyers Leonard is off on the right foot.