Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No More Doubt From Outlaw

With as long as he’s been in Portland, it’s sometimes easy to forget that Travis Outlaw is only 24 years old. In many ways, Outlaw is the last man standing from the years in which Blazermania took a hiatus, the only guy on the team who remembers what things were like before Rip City returned. Knowing what those days were like gives Outlaw a unique appreciation for where the Trail Blazers are at now, despite his relative youth.

“What I went through, I like to say that everything was worth it,” said Outlaw. “Everybody was like, ‘Maybe he should have went to college’ and all that. There’s no doubt in my mind that I should have come to the league first. I think me going through all that, it kind of made me the person who I am today.”

While most fans look back hardheartedly on the seasons that laid the groundwork of Outlaw’s career, he prefers, as is his nature, to reflect upon the positive.

“I remember watching Bonzi play, watching his footwork,” said Outlaw. “For him being that small, he could post up anyone. DA, his shots was always flowing. Damon with the pull up. Sheed with the fade to the base. I kind of liked watching them, seeing what they were doing, seeing how they was reading each situation. It kind of makes me who I am.”

There were bouts of self doubt and regression, especially when Nate McMillan took over in 2005. Outlaw didn’t know if he fit into the new coaches’ plans or how he would adjust to a new system as a player who was just starting to find some sense of stability in his third year.

“Nate came and at first it was kind of a step back for me,” said Outlaw. “Just a new system and everything. There’s a coach you’ve been knowing for a while, and now he’s gone. The guy who drafted me was gone. The coach who ended up working with me ended up leaving. So it was just a whole new process for me. Then you start hearing the media say, ‘Ah, he can’t get the plays.’ But that kind of built me up even more, made me want it even more.”

Outlaw also found motivation in Portland’s drafting of small forwards. It seemed like almost every season the Trail Blazers drafted a player to be Outlaw’s replacement, which he admits troubled him at times.

“It like, man, we’re always drafting 3’s,” said Outlaw. “I remember one time it was like, if they don’t like me here I wish they would just go on and trade me. But after a couple of talks with Nate, he was like, ‘I like your game, we just need to polish some areas.’ And I’m like, that’s understandable. And then Mont came into my life.”

“Mont” being assistant coach Monty Williams, whose tutelage both on and off the court has helped Outlaw transform from a shy, gangly project from Mississippi into established NBA player with a personality that seems to grow more gregarious by the day.

“He came in with The Word and it kind of made me realize that what you’re feeling is normal, but it ain’t the end of the world,” said Outlaw. “It gave me confidence. Him spending more time with me helped.”

Thanks to the help of Williams, Outlaw has elevated his game to a level many thought he would never reach coming straight from high school to the NBA. But now Outlaw has a new challenge: helping the Trail Blazers advance to the second round of the playoffs, and beyond.

“I feel like it’s a payoff to get to the playoffs,” said Outlaw, “but my goal ain’t just to get to the playoffs. If we can win it all this year, let’s go for it. That’s how I am. The playoffs are cool, but you’ve got to realize that a lot of teams go to the playoffs. I ain’t trying to go to the playoffs for an early exit. That’s how I look at it.”


blzrfn1 said...

Go Travis !!

Sierra said...

Go Trav!
Good Luck at Houston and the rest of the Trail Blazers :))

BlazerFanManRandall said...

Outlaw's always positive attitude is uplifting. Even after the blow out in Game 1, all the interviews in the locker room seemed to be down, but Travis was the only one saying we have to take something from the game even if it was nothing more than a made shot or a particular stop. Keep the attitudes high Travis!

Go show those Houston fans a thing or two about basketball!

Travis said...

after seeing how catfish handled lebron the last time we played cleveland, i know he has some of that road magic in store for these playoffs. to review, in cleveland he had 17 and 7 in nearly 47minutes, and only one personal foul compared to james' four. if the end of that game had been called correctly by the refs there would have been a very different outcome, and perhaps even another game winning shot for travis. as this series against the rockets unfolds, the whole league will see portland's Mr. 4th Quarter! WE BELIEVE in #25!!!


hg said...

I remember when we drafted outlaw. Everybody was joking about his name being appropriate for the team he was going to play for. I never got to watch him because I never had TV reception. But I listened on the radio and watched when I could. He was on the bench most of the time and when he got in the game he would have asthma attacks and have to come out.

He has come so far and is blooming into a great person as well as a great player.

Of course in the early days I never knew him to have a sense of humor, he was so shy and quiet. But look at him now. Laying down on the table in front of Mike and Mike on TV with that mischievous grin. That is terrific.

I have told everybody in blogs not to worry about Travis low scoring the first two games. He has a little more Jitters than some of the others and he will explode now. I think the steal and the break away dunk broke the ice.

Take us to the finals Travis


Draft John Wall said...

really nice piece.

lama said...

Just nit-picking here, but the article implies that Travis was feeling playing time pressure from draft picks made under Nate's watch. 15 picks have been made in the last 5 drafts. Three were projected SF (Kryapa, Monia, and Batum). The first two were pre-Nate. Throwing-in Nate's free agent SFs, Udoka and Jones, probably is a truer picture.

That said - good post. I'd like to know if (or if not) Travis's approach to the game has been effected by playing with Udoka and Jones. Did their veteran-ness rub off on him in any way?

Mary Jo said...

Travis you have so much heart!! LOVE it that you are a part of this team! GO TRAVIS!

Rocket Man said...

Trailblazers took game 2 in Portland by 4 points and Rockets had one of their worst free throw nights ever. Also to include that Joey Crawford is the worse ref in the league who made terrible call that favor Portland most of the time. That won't happen again. So you Portland fans, enjoy the only win of this years playoff. I just can't believe the Trailblazers can't beat the Rockets worse than 4 points without our other star Mcgrady. I take that back. Yeah I can believe it. You can say all you want to say about T-Mac. You all couldn't talk when he was healthy, thats for sure. PS Thanks for giving up Clyde Drexler. I'am sure you all thought he was old and over the hill and that he had no more game. He help the ROCKETS win the Championship after we Swept Shaq and the Orlando magic. Peace. LMAO with the 31 point whipping in Portland. Don't hate the player, Hate the game.

Isaac said...

Outlaw is so important to this team ! He's been struggling in the series but if we want to have a chance to win in Houston we are going to need a heck of him. RIP CITY DESTROYS CLUTCH CITY !! RISE WITH US!!

millertime said...

travis has become one of my favorite blazers along with broy LA, rudy,billa and oden. some day soon he will be unstoppible. as soon as he start dribbling better and that will come. GO blazers

Adam said...

Is it okay if i ask who Rocket Man is? This post was for Travis Outlaw and his growth as a person and as a basketball player, even through some sad times in Blazer years. Did the post mention T-Mac? Anywho, thank you for joining us here!

Tom L said...

Rocket Man, I will try to speak your language in order to communicate with you. You help yourself the grammar lessons. Eye hope you no it will help in trying two belittle oar condescend people if they understand ewe. Too bad there's only spell check (which I'm sure you used) and not grammar check. I have to disagree slightly though, that Joey Crawford is not the worse ref, but he is close to being the worst. Also T-Mac is getting old , he's overrated, he can never stay healthy and I really wish he was playing right now because he has never even been out of the first round ever in his career! You are lucky he's not playing because we'd advance for sure. So yes I can talk when he's healthy. Drexler was a great player but you guys won because of Hakeem. You guys swept Shaq's team because Hakeem schooled the Shaqtus, not because of Drexler. Clyde was never a 4th quarter player, unlike B-Roy! He was fun to watch but he didn't deliver when it counted on a consistent basis. But I still loved the Glide!
Anyways, I am glad we still have Travis, I hope he starts playing like he has been all year in Houston!! If he, Lamarcus, and Rudy show up with Brandon and with Oden & Pryz staying physical inside no one can stop us!! No one!