Planning, Priorities And Online Shopping Help The Blazers Get Through The Holiday Season

by Casey Holdahl
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While the holiday season is typically a joyous time, it can also tend to be a bit stressful. With so many chores and tasks, enjoyable as they may be, associated with Christmas, it can be hard to find time in an already busy schedule to buy and wrap presents, decorate, attend holiday parties or simply spend quality time with family and friends.

That's especially true for those whose work requires extensive travel, as is the case for the players, coaches and staff of the Portland Trail Blazers. Between cross-country road trips, games, practices, meetings and community events, it can be difficult to find the necessary time to knock out the obligations of the holiday season while also competing at a high level against some of the best athletes in the world. But it can be done, at least with a little forethought.

"I think you've really got to start early." said Trail Blazers guard/forward Evan Turner. "When it comes to the tree, we plan that four or five days in advance. So the playlist, the cookies, hot chocolate and stuff and then we come back to town I'll have people over and we'll have a Christmas movie night or something like that. Henny and hot chocolate, some cupcakes, something along those lines."

Turner also noted that getting into a holiday frame of mind is helpful with regard to getting the most Christmas cheer out of a packed schedule. As in, since time at home is often limited due to the realities of a 41-game road schedule, it's important to be mindful of how that time is spent, at least if one wants to soak up the essence of the holiday season.

"I always want to get into the Christmas spirit, so you've got to plan," said Turner. "Obviously I do the Christmas tree decoration with the homies. During the season sometimes if it's a nice day out or whatever, I'll try to walk around downtown, get into an area where they have lights and all that stuff and at least try to remember. Christmas is one of my favorite times, so I try to do that, try to watch Christmas movies around this time, things of that nature. Buying gifts for family and stuff, that helps as well."

The gift buying piece is one area that has become much easier recently thanks to an increased emphasis on online shopping. While gifts can, and often times are, purchased during road trips and then carried back to Portland, the wide range or products and convenience of procurement that typifies online shopping in 2018 has made that part of the holiday season much easier to handle for the Trail Blazers.

"Amazon!" exclaimed Moe Harkless when asked how he gets his shopping done despite spending a significant amount of time away from home. "I communicate with my family, they help me out because I have a bunch of kids in my family. My mom, my grandma help me out as far as what they're into, what should I get. A lot of Amazon, honestly."

And when you're an NBA player who makes millions of dollars a year, the expectations regarding the quality and quantity of gifts tend to become outsized. One might assume that would come with it's own anxiety, but to a man, that responsibility was considered a blessing by the players rather than an obligation.

"Growing up, I used to love Christmas because I'd get presents," said Harkless. "Now I love Christmas because I get to see my little brother and my nephew, see how excited they get when they get presents. Once I starting being pretty much the breadwinner of the family it kind of changed my mentality about it. It's a good thing, I enjoy it."

For players, as is the case for non-athletes, finding a good balance between work life and home life can be difficult, though that's especially true when so much of your life is tied up in your work. So while the holidays do present something of a challenge for players, it also provides a valuable reminder about what is truly important.

"First things first: I'm going to always consider my family or my loved ones before everything else," said Damian Lillard. "Obviously I'm going to do what I've got to do for work but I'm not going to let that get in the way of my mom or my son or my girlfriend or my sister. It's pretty simple: you've just got to find that time and that balance of how can I take care of one thing and still be able to get the other thing."

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