Sitting was the hardest part.
But Will Barton did what he had to do in Portland, where in two-and-a-half seasons he just never found himself in the plan for the talented Blazers.
What he didn’t do, however, is sulk.
Sure, he had many moments of doubt, where it was necessary for those close to him to pick him up with words of encouragement. He detailed those in an interview with The Denver Post.
“Mainly my family,” Barton said. “I’ve got a good support system. So, not a day went by that we didn’t talk about it and they didn’t keep my spirits up. Instead of getting mad and not doing anything, we’re going to the gym at night and just always trying to keep myself ready for when I do get my opportunity. So, that’s the only thing you can do.”
In Portland, the minutes dwindled. Barton averaged 12.2 minutes per game as a rookie in 2012. That faded to 9.4 in 2013-14, and bumped up slightly to 10.0 minutes per game this season before he was traded to the Denver Nuggets.
“It was difficult for me, especially being a young player and trying to make a name for myself in this league and get security. It was hard,” Barton said. “But you’re on a winning team, so you don’t want to complain too much. But at the same time you want to play because you feel like you can contribute to the team. So, it was definitely an everyday fight with my ego. But I managed it well, I cheered for my teammates and was a good guy in the locker room. Things are going to pay off for me.”
Barton, a Baltimore native, has known Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly, also from Baltimore, for years.
“He’s been knowing me probably since I was 12 years old,” Barton said. “And I work out, actually, with one of his brothers ever since I was a senior in high school and college. So we know each other pretty well. He saw me grow into the kind of player I am and with the work ethic. So, on that end it’s good. But at the same time he’s even harder on me because he knows me and he expects a lot out of me. Which makes it good for me because now I won’t take anything for granted. I go out there and work hard for everything I get.”
Christopher Dempsey | The Denver Post | February 25, 2015