NBA / Dec 9, 2009 / 10:00 am

24 Hours in NYC With The Portland Trail Blazers

Jerryd Bayless

You can’t beat the holidays in New York City. With the lit Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, the bright lights of Times Square and the world famous Rockettes performing in their annual Radio City Christmas Spectacular – tourism is at a high this time of year. But for the visiting Portland Trailblazers, a trip to the Big Apple is just another business trip in just another city. After arriving Sunday night via their chartered 747 plane, painting the town red was the last thing Blazer players were trying to do.

“No, I didn’t do anything last night,” Brandon Roy said before Portland’s game against the Knicks. “Way too cold out there.”

Last Sunday, the team started their four-city Eastern road trip that covers four games in seven days. By NBA standards, this cross-country trip is a walk in the park compared to other teams’ travel schedules. Every November, the Bulls take their annual “circus” road trip where they embark on a six or seven game Western road swing that lasts around two weeks while the United Center plays host to Ringling Brothers Circus.

After landing in New Jersey, the team proceeded to practice at the Nets’ practice facility before the team checked into their plush, five-star Midtown Manhattan hotel. From there, guard Steve Blake grabbed dinner with his sister and some friends from his hometown of Miami, FL, who were in town visiting. As for the rest of the Blazers, most said they packed it in and just lounged in their rooms, Skyping or iChatting with family. Or so they say. A witness from Dime, caught veteran forward Juwan Howard hanging out at the Meatpacking District hotspot The Pink Elephant. Second-year guard Jerryd Bayless stays away from the club scene all together on the road.

“Not during the year, I’m still trying to get established in the league,” says Bayless, who has reportedly asked to be traded. “I don’t have that luxury to do that.”

On Monday, before their game against the Knicks, most of the players continued the theme of staying in their rooms. LaMarcus Aldridge, who just signed a $70 million extension with Portland in the offseason, was able to get away from the hotel to do some shopping on the trendy and pricey Fifth Avenue. Asked which stores he shopped at, Aldridge casually responded, “Louis Vuitton, Gucci and the usual stores.” What about taking in Central Park or head down to Ellis Island? “No, I think when you travel in high school and college you go to most of these cities, so I’m really past [sight seeing] now.”

Martell Webster is another guy who isn’t big on exploring the city. Despite being in NYC several times over the years to play the Knicks and Nets, he probably can’t even give you a restaurant suggestion here.

“I really don’t know the cities to tell you the truth, especially this one,” admits Martell. “I’m a room service guy, so I don’t even go out to restaurants. But big cities like this? I couldn’t tell you where to go.”

Not going out has its perks. Webster is able to save not only his salary, but also most of the $108 per diem each player is given every day on the road. “It’s funny, because I kind of save it,” says Webster. ” If I can come up $200-300 off a road trip, that’s going straight to the bank.”

However, all the resting in the rooms didn’t payoff for the Blazers, who lost 93-84 to the Knicks at the Garden on Monday night. Immediately after giving their post game interviews, the team boarded a plane right to Indianapolis for their second stop on the trip. From there the team will head to Cleveland, where point guard Andre Miller started his NBA career 11 seasons ago. “I’ll be cool,” Miller says of his return to Cleveland. “I’ll get a chance to see some of my friends from back in the day.” The Blazers finish their road trip Saturday night in Milwaukee. There, Webster will see his brother, who will make the drive down from Chicago to watch him play.

Overall, this trip will probably be forgotten in a week for most of the squad. With hundreds of flights a year, these guys are pros at traveling. Just because Webster can’t tell you where to get a good slice of pizza in New York City or recommend a steak house in Chicago, doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to be an efficient traveler.

“One thing my grandma told me was always pack a lot of underwear,” says Webster. “If you’re going to have a surplus of anything, make sure it’s underwear. I might have to wear a pair of socks again, but I’ll never run out of underwear.”

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.

Follow Gerald Narciso on Twitter at @Gerald_Narciso.

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  • foolio_iglesias

    Pro athletes don’t even know where to get good weed anymore.Sad.


    great article

  • .

    sigh…”Rockefeller”, dawg. c’mon, do nyc right

  • http://www.petsocietyhelp.com Pet Society Help

    Juwan was the smartest guy on the team. Why do these guys skype?

  • http://uoregon.edu sans

    how many errors can you have in an article? I stopped counting at 2, but pay someone to proofread your ish…sorry to hate…

  • choster

    No need to leave the hotel…the ladies come to them

  • http://vittoriodezen.wordpress.com Vic De Zen

    Nice quote by Martell Webster there.

  • hahns

    wow, bayless is all business. even during his interview in gunnin’ for that number one spot, he was saying how he never fooled around w/ any hs girls bc he wanted to stay focused. if i was him thats def not what id be doing….

    but anyway- he asked for a trade? didnt know that. it must be tough being a lottery pick and warmin the bench though

  • Steve A

    Gotta love Martel’s saving money idea. He may not need to, but it’s cool to see a guy actually think about that stuff.

  • W.

    Awesome article. You guys should publish stuff like this more often…you can’t get this anywhere else.

  • http://dime eyes

    @7 Damn he stayed away from the girls and that’s all the game to show for it. I hear the message about staying focused. Maybe some girltime would help him out. He’s a freak athlete but very limited in the skills dept. I hope he does get traded. Every talent deserves to play and make a niche. There are to many players that aren’t better given a chance. This is when the business hurts the players. Not that they care. Why should the players care then? You gain a lot more by being out on the court. Could you imagine all of the guards excelling from this draft being relegated to the bench. It would have made for an even less entertaining year. How it is that NJ & NY are so bad with so much talent in the league & abroad. Boggles my mind. Are all NY’ers troublemakers & uncoachable. Where did that stigma derive from. Give us a chance for Pete’s sake. I know the Steph experiment messed up. It was at the crossroads of his career anyways. The key is getting a player in his prime not his downward spiral. I’m guessing we’ll be going after Kobe in about a few. How about Lebron when he’s 35.

  • http://dime eyes

    Learning how to draft would help though. Projects almost never pan out in the 1st round. Jennings would have really been nice. I even wish the Knicks would have gotten Spanish chocolate instead of Duhon. When will these teams be competitive again. The problem with the Blazers is the pressure to win. People think they’re better than advertised. Brandon Roy isn’t there yet. Steve Blake wellllllllll. Aldridge is a budding all star that just scores. Good Bench but not great. They have a team of good pieces & a coach who doesn’t let them go. They’re not contenders & I’ll give them a pass due to some injuries. Even fully healthy the Top 3 would embarass them in a Playoff series.

  • KCL

    Sorry to hate gerald but pretty weak article must be getting your quota in

  • steven

    The article was good, despite the many errors.

    Central Park never gets old & them cats are so used to having nothing to do in Portland that they get used to do nothing.

  • Tim E.

    Ahem…Steven, I’m afraid I must take issue with your comment. The Blazers have plenty to do in Portland, like practicing and playing ball. Otherwise they don’t really stay in Portland. Your attempt at being a smart-ass is lame.

  • j yosef

    webster is a country boy anyways.

  • j yosef

    wait no he isnt