Portland Trail Blazers Have Team-Wide Coffee Habit, Thanks to the Lakers
Among the NBA’s 30 teams, the Portland Trail Blazers would seem the most likely to carry a coffee addiction in their locker room. Between their proximity to the likes of Starbucks, The Coffee Bean and Stumptown in the Pacific Northwest and their own brutal travel schedule to and from Oregon, the Blazers were bound to be caffeine fiends.
But as ESPN’s Baxter Holmes recently revealed, Rip City’s finest came by their love for java not from their regional neighbors, but rather from their rivals to the south: the Los Angeles Lakers.
Who, pray tell, was Patient Zero? Former All-Star center Chris Kaman.
In 2013, Chris started drinking joe brewed by Tim DiFrancesco, who was the Lakers’ head strength and conditioning coach at the time. Per Holmes:
At first, Kaman wasn't a fan of the bitter taste of straight black coffee. But when DiFrancesco and Dr. Cate Shanahan, then the team's nutritionist, suggested he cut it with organic, full-fat milk or grass-fed butter, Kaman was hooked—not only on the taste, but also on the improvements in focus and concentration.
Shortly after Chris made the switch, Steve Blake, who was a backup point guard for the Lakers at the time, followed suit. In 2014, Chris and Steve both signed with the Blazers, and subsequently roped Todd Forcier, Portland’s sports performance specialist, into their routine.
Over time, that taste for roasted beans—and the healthier buzz they provided, compared to sugary energy drinks—spread to Damian Lillard and onto Meyers Leonard, Moe Harkless, Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and even head coach Terry Stotts.
"The first time I did, I just felt sharp," Dame said. "I remember walking out there for warm-ups, and I was sweating because the coffee made me hot. I just felt focused. My mind just felt locked in. I had no idea that coffee had that effect."
Nowadays, you’d be hard-pressed to find any denizen of the Moda Center who doesn’t know about fair-trade beans, French press coffeemakers and non-dairy “superfood” creamers. For that, they can thank the purple and gold.
Josh Martin is the Editorial Director of CloseUp360. He previously covered the NBA for Bleacher Report and USA Today Sports Media Group, and has written for Yahoo! Sports and Complex. He is also the co-host of the Hollywood Hoops podcast. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.