Daddies on court
- kerry eggers
- Portland Tribune - Sports
• Going into new year, Blazer baby boom shows no sign of slowing
There's a movement afoot with the Trail Blazers, one even more important than winning streaks or playoff records.
It's called fatherhood.
In the last 22 months, six Blazers - five players and assistant coach Monty Williams - have joined or rejoined the club.
When center-forward Raef LaFrentz was traded to Portland last year, some employees heard he and wife Joie were trying to have a baby.
'You're in the right place,' they told LaFrentz. 'There's something about the Portland water. A lot of players' wives and girlfriends are pregnant.'
What's more, all of the new offspring are boys.
And another one is coming. Brandi Miles, wife of forward Darius Miles, is expecting Jan. 7.
And, yes, the couple already knows it will be a boy.
'It's funny,' says guard Brandon Roy, whose first child, Brandon Jr., is almost 9 months old. 'Whenever somebody's wife gets pregnant, we always go, 'You're going to have a boy.' '
'I guess the next wave of babies will be girls,' says guard Steve Blake, whose son, Nicholas, is 14 months old.
It's been said that every father, deep down, wants a son.
'It didn't matter what sex as long as the baby was healthy, but I was superexcited to have a boy,' Blake says. 'The first time, most guys want a boy and the wife wants the girl. Next time, maybe we'll get the girl.'
Roy adds with a laugh: 'It's good to get the boy out of the way first.'
One Blazer, James Jones, has two young children -with wife Destiny, they have 3-month-old James Jr. and sister Jadynn, 2.
'Little buddy' makes four
Assistant coach Williams, meanwhile, is old hat at being a parent. Elijah, born Aug. 30, has three sisters - Lael, 9; Faith, 7; and Jenna, 5.
One can imagine how busy the Williams' house is for Monty's wife, Ingrid, when he's away on road trips.
Williams loves his daughters. But …
'Now he has a little buddy to play basketball with,' Ingrid Williams says. 'He has great plans for him at the gym when he gets a little older.'
The three Williams girls do get 'Daddy time' every night, though. 'They play games and read books and do a lot of wrestling,' Ingrid says. 'I always say when Daddy's out of town, all the fun's gone. I have to make up for it with pizza night.'
Being a father changed Jones' life.
'It's put everything in perspective and made everything else secondary,' he says. 'The feeling I get from seeing them every day outweighs any feeling you'd get from making a winning shot or whatever I could possibly do on the court. The only thing I'm concerned about is knowing I'm a great dad. One day, my basketball career will be over, but my kids will be there forever. It's no longer about me; it's all about them.'
Williams sees fatherhood a little differently.
'It just helped me realize a dream I'd always had. I always wanted to be a father,' he says. 'It didn't make me not go out - I didn't go out, anyway. But it changes your lifestyle in that you can't go to the movies at 10 p.m.
'But in exchange, I got to know my wife a lot better. I got to see her strength, to see how tough she was. I didn't know because I didn't pay attention. Then we had kids and it was like, 'Man, I'm a selfish fart.' I go to work, come home, go to sleep, eat, play with my dogs, leave. She's, like, taking care of everything.'
'It's been the best thing'
Blake's wife, Kristin, says fatherhood has balanced out his life.
'It's relaxed him a little bit,' she says. 'He has a different focus on life now. It helps him handle losses better.
'Steve loves to spend as much time with Nicholas as possible. Even if he's tired, he'll wake up early in the morning to see him if he's just come off a road trip. He's a very hands-on father.'
The son of center Joel Przybilla and wife Noelle, Anthony, turns 2 in February. To Przybilla, there's nothing terrible about that.
'It's been the best thing that's ever happened to me,' he says. 'The biggest change is after a tough loss, going home and seeing him and realizing I'm disappointed, but it doesn't matter one lick to him. He's just glad Daddy's home.
'I've been trying to push to have more kids right away, but Noelle wants to wait. I want to have five or six, but she wants two or three.'
Kid time starts, ends the day
The LaFrentzes have known each other since 1996 and have been married six years. They waited to have their first child, in part because 'an NBA player leads a hectic lifestyle, which is not the easiest way to raise a family,' Raef LaFrentz says.
But after the birth of Cael in May, 'the plan is to not stop at one, God willing,' he says. 'I can't think of a better way to start a day than going to Cael's crib, grabbing him and having him laugh at you.'
Being a father means 'everything' to Roy, whose son was born to fiancée Tiana Bardwell.
'Not a minute goes by that I'm not thinking about my little man,' he says. 'I was warming up (for a recent game) and I was a little bit out of it, but the minute Tiana walked in with him, I got excited. 'The little man's here.' '
Tiana is the sole parent when the Blazers are on a road trip.
'But when he's home, I don't have B.J. at all,' she says. 'Brandon always says to me, 'I never knew I could love someone this much.' '
Williams says there is a kinship the Blazer fathers share.
'Travis (Outlaw) and (Jarrett) Jack have no idea what it's like to go home and not go to sleep,' he says. 'They go home and take a nap or go to the movies. Brandon goes home, and it's a tag team (with Tiana): 'You got him.' '
Blake says having a child makes him even more thankful this holiday season.
'We're all just lucky,' he says, 'to have that little miracle come into our lives.'