Jaylen Hoard got into basketball by watching future teammate Melo play

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Logan Newman
·2 min read
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Jaylen Hoard still remembers what got him into basketball: Game 1 of the 2009 Western Conference Finals. His dad turned on the game to watch Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant and Denver Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony face off.

“Ever since then, I just wanted to play in the NBA,” Hoard said.

Hoard got his chance a decade later when the Portland Trail Blazers signed him shortly after he went undrafted in 2019. When he showed up to work on one November day, Anthony was in a Blazers uniform — his new teammate.

Hoard was playing alongside one of the main faces of his seminal basketball memory.

“It was crazy. Melo, he joined us later in the year, and it was just incredible to have him there,” Hoard said. “Having him as a teammate last year was crazy, just to watch him still be really good and elite after being out for a year or so.”

Hoard spent the majority of his time in the organization in the G League, where he averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds for the Texas Legends.

He appeared in 13 games with the Blazers and got a first-hand look at Anthony.

“It was just crazy, just to watch him work and perform,” Hoard said.

Because he spent so much of the season in the G League, there wasn’t a ton of interaction with the future Hall of Famer, but Hoard said the two spoke a bit in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida.

“I was able to talk to him a little bit more in the bubble,” Hoard said. “Just kind of learned a few tips from him. It was good for me.”

Hoard joined the Oklahoma City Blue for G League play this season, and after averaging a touch below 10 points and five rebounds per game in the tournament, he signed a two-way contract with the Thunder.

He was thrown into action immediately, averaging 11.5 points in 23 minutes of play between the two games since the signing was made official on Monday.

“I still got things to work on, but I feel like for my first game, I did pretty well meshing with the guys,” he said on Tuesday. “After the bubble ended, I wasn’t sure where I would finish out the season. And so when I got the call, I was super excited.”

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