Before Tip-Off: Blazers head coach Canales back in South Texas


Normally, there’s not an abundance of media on the second night of a back-to-back at the AT&T KCCenter, especially when the San Antonio Spurs (47-16) are facing a team that has only won 28 games and lost 36 games in the Portland Trail Blazers. It’s not necessarily the game at hand that has drawn so much media attention; it’s the Blazers’ head coach.

Blazers interim head coach Kaleb Canales is a Texas product from down south, Laredo, Texas. After working his way into the Blazers’ organization first as a video intern in 2004, Kanales has worked up the pyramid to become the first Mexican-American head coach in the NBA when he was promoted on March 15, after the Blazers released former head coach Nate McMillan.

Coach Canales has a history with the city of San Antonio, as he said he used to come to see NBA games when he was younger in the Alamodome.

“Anytime I come to San Antonio,” said Canales, “it’s a special trip.”

Coach Canales recalled games when he sat in the Alamodome to watch his favorite NBA team at the time, the Chicago Bulls. The reason he was a Bulls fan? He was in awe to watch NBA great Michael Jordan when he was in his prime. Even today, revisiting San Antonio, this time as an NBA head coach, will be a special evening for Canales.

“I know I’ll save this (memory) in a special file,” said Canales. Canales knows he can’t let his feeling of being back in the southern part of Texas override the task at hand; he has a game set to tip-off against the Spurs.

“They’re playing high-level (basketball) right now,” said Canales of the Spurs. “They don’t get enough credited for how well they share the basketball,” continued Canales.

He said center Joel Pryzbilla, forward Nicolas Batum, and guards Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton will all be game-time decisions tonight against the Spurs. The Spurs however, will have everyone in uniform.

“Everyone’s available,” said Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, but he didn’t necessarily say who was going to start tonight. “It’ll look different,” said coach Popovich of the Spurs’ starting lineup.

Coach Canales said he’s already stopped by some of his favorite food places in South Texas, Taco Palenque and Whataburger.

Before he leaves San Antonio tomorrow, he’s going to make sure he makes one more stop for a bite to eat. The place? Good ole Chick-Fil-A.