trailblazers

Wesley Matthews urges prideful push down the stretch

No excuses, finish strong

Following an embarrassing loss to the Houston Rockets on ESPN, two things became clear for the Portland Trail Blazers. First, the playoffs are officially out of the picture. Rip City has been eliminated from contention, which means the focus can publicly shift to building toward the future.

The second fact is that Wesley Matthews has emerged as the undisputed vocal leader of this team.

In an interview after the contest (via Blazers Edge), Wesley Matthews spoke candidly. The post-game vehemence was the culmination of a frustrating stretch, as a seven-game skid epitomizes the inconsistency that has plagued this roster.

Wesley Matthews has become the vocal leader in PDX. (Photo: AP)

Wes Matthews has become the vocal leader in PDX. (Photo: AP)

As a fan, listening to someone berate your team can be demoralizing, to say the least. However, when it comes from someone on the floor—someone who wants to see changes in the most positive way—you have to take it to heart.

At 26 years old, Matthews is still young, but he’s become one of the veterans on a rebuilding unit. The Trail Blazers have five rookies on their roster, and while the youth movement is fun and exciting, nobody quite knows how to react to such disappointment.

Nobody except Matthews, that is.

If you read the transcript, you see that the 2-guard has had it with the losing ways, but more specifically, he’s sick of the effort level he’s seen down the stretch. He wants this team to play up to its capabilities, and he wants to continue fighting whether the playoffs are on the line or not.

Taking pride in having the “the best job in the damn world,” is one of his focuses for the team, and it’s that kind of statement that makes him one of the most likeable figures in the entire organization. We all know that NBA athletes are in good situations, but here’s a guy who wants to make sure that his teammates remember and appreciate that every single day.

When this team is having fun, its fun to watch, and it wins basketball games. When its not having fun, losing streaks take place, and that’s something Matthews is ready to put to an end.

In an ideal world, your most vocal leader is also your best player. In Portland, that’s simply not the case, as LaMarcus Aldridge has shown throughout the years that he more resembles the strong, silent type.

The best part about Matthews, though, is that while he’s clearly willing to speak up, he’s also going to show it on the court. He’s always hustling on both ends, and that’s what a leader should do night in and night out.

With the season turning into a downward spiral, the team needs an attitude adjustment more than anything else. They young guys are going to make mistakes, but an upbeat locker room is what will keep the final weeks from becoming a disaster.

Matthews doesn’t have the flash or potential of a Damian Lillard, and he’s not a go-to option like LaMarcus Aldridge. But on a team that is still trying to find its identity, he’s the perfect player to bring everyone together both on and off the court.

This guy doesn’t know how to quit, and that’s the mentality that every player on the roster must have moving forward.

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About Bryant Knox

NWSB Editor. Portland native and Oregon graduate, On a non-stop mission to consume as much Ducks+Trail Blazers content as humanly possible. His love of sports is what attracts him to the game, passion for writing drives him to uncover the stories. Connect w/ Bryant today!
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