Man Among the Fans: Plumlee takes an Early Liking to Rip City

If the NBA was anything like grade school, it’s likely Trail Blazers newcomer Mason Plumlee would have the best “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay.

Check out New York art galleries? Plumlee did it.

Attend a movie premier? Plumlee was there

Take a trip to Italy? Sí, certamente. 

Co-star in a rap video? Please.

Take in a Mayweather fight in Vegas? You bet.

But on top of Plumlee’s leisure travels, the Indiana-born, Duke-educated big man was traded from Brooklyn to Portland, invited to and played in the USA Basketball Showcase in Las Vegas and traveled to various youth basketball camps across America.

“I was kind of a nomad. I was all over, man,” Plumlee says with a laugh.

“I went a lot of places, I’m not even sure I can name them all. Being traded, your stuff is kind of in transit, then you’ve got to find a spot and get set up.”

In between his travel adventures, Plumlee has taken plenty of time to explore his new home here in Portland to find out all Rip City has to offer. Don’t be surprised to find Plumlee wandering around Stumptown, or taking in some of Oregon’s beautiful scenery.

“I’m not the most outdoor person, but I’m going to check out the sites,” he admits. “I look forward to seeing the city and the surroundings.”

Plumlee continues: “I’ve done the Rose Gardens, the Japanese Gardens, Saturday Market, First Thursday. I’m just trying to get acclimated, see what the people do for fun out here.”

“I’ve been impressed (with Portland). I’ve had fun, I’ve met a lot of really nice people.”

Even more impressive to Plumlee has been the response so far from Trail Blazers fans. In New York, the city’s professional sports teams battle for attention with almost 10 other teams in the market, not to mention the allegiances of the Big Apple’s hundreds of thousands of transplants.

With just two professional sports teams in Portland, fans’ passion is intensified in Rip City.

“It seems more like a college town, in terms of everybody in the city being supportive of the team… I love it,” the third-year pro explains. “Everyone supports the team, so it’s real cool. In New York, you’ve got six or seven teams to choose from: you’ve got Jets, Giants, Mets, Yankees, Islanders, Rangers...Here, it’s the Trail Blazers and the Timbers.”

While getting to know his new home, Plumlee is also taking to his new teammates. On the court, Plumlee figures to be a direct replacement in the paint for veteran Robin Lopez, who signed with the New York Knicks this summer. Given his youth, athleticism and offensive ability, many pundits even see the 25-year-old as an upgrade in Portland's frontcourt. Away from the hardwood, Plumlee is sure to ease the departure of fan-favorite Lopez among the Trail Blazer faithful. 

Never taking himself too seriously off the court, Plumlee learned early on in his professional career that a sense of humor goes a long way during the grueling 82-game NBA season.

“In the NBA, you have to be able to have fun and joke around every now and then,” he says. “It’s a very intense, highly competitive job to where you’re fighting for your spot and trying to make a name for yourself and your team every night. 

“When you’re off the court, you have to be able to relax, have fun.”