PORTLAND, Ore. -- Trail Blazers forward Meyers Leonard has found himself after the hardest year of his life.It started at the beginning of last season, when Leonard gambled by turning down Portlands $40 million contract extension offer. Then he dislocated his shoulder twice, finally succumbing to surgery and watching as his team went to the playoffs.Now, he views the adversity as a victory of sorts -- because it brought him to the place hes at today.I believe that everything happens for a reason, he said. And Im flat-out excited for what the future holds.Portlands 7-footer is poised to return from the shoulder injury that finally caught up with him last season. His rehab is ahead of schedule and hes been practicing with the team during training camp. Theres no timetable yet for his return to games.The Blazers, who defeated the Utah Jazz 98-89 on Monday night in the preseason opener, are looking to build off of last seasons success when they surpassed expectations by going 44-38 with a second-round playoff appearance.Leonard, who turned down that initial extension offer last October, embarked on last season hopeful that hed make a statement in his fourth NBA season. He had already turned heads with his 3-point shooting ability, a rarity for a big man.He would go on to play in 61 games, including 10 starts, with a career-high 8.4 points and 5.1 rebounds a game. He also had 86 3-pointers.But he dislocated his shoulder in November during a game against the San Antonio Spurs and missed seven games. He dislocated it again during a practice in March and about a week later it was determined hed need surgery for a torn labrum.Leonard knew all along something was wrong and it just added to his anxiety. For the first time in his life he feared failure, he said.It was the hardest year of life. Not even close. I lied to my entire family the whole year. I told them I was OK. I wasnt. I come from nothing and I turned down $40 million, he said.His outlook started to shift this summer after he signed a four-year, $41 million deal with the Blazers.Leonard said he keeps two journals each day, one to record all that he is thankful for, and another to keep him focused on his life goals. He said his faith has also grown.Hes not self-conscious about revealing his foibles or the transformation.I think a lot of times listening to other players speak, listening to myself speak in the past, it feels like a lot of times its scripted answers, kind of giving you guys what you want to hear. Certainly, sometimes thats just the way it is, he told reporters when training camp opened. But I like to be a little more open, be honest, with things. Thats just the way I am, I guess.Leonard has already been at work this summer on his game. Hes looking to do different things in the post this season and be more of a threat outside of spacing the floor. Hes good with whatever role falls his way, too.My goals and my thoughts going into this season is to do to whatever I can to help the team, he said. Im in a really good place in my life right now, on and off the court. Im very confident, my mind is clear. Im excited for this year. Blake Sims College Jersey . Robredo, ranked No. 16, bounced back from an upset loss to Leonardo Mayer in the second round of the Royal Guard Open in Chile last week to down Carreno Busta in 1 hour, 25 minutes. On a day filled mostly with qualifying matches, fifth-seeded Marcel Granollers of Spain also entered the second with a 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 win over Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, while Guido Pella of Argentina defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-6 (6), 6-4 to advance. Amari Cooper College Jersey . 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Late-blooming 5-year-old Blacktype won his third race in a row and second straight graded stakes when he beat longshot Top of Mine and favored Force the Pass by a half-length Saturday at Laurel Park in the Grade 2, $200,000 Commonwealth Turf Cup.Trained by Christophe Clement for Jump Sucker Stable and ridden to victory by Trevor McCarthy, Blacktype saved ground racing near the rear of the field behind a hot pace, came up the rail in the homestretch, and had just enough to outfinish outside-rallying Top of Mine.Christophe told me he can be a bit keen. I just tried to save all the ground and be as patient as I could with him and make the one move with a hot pace in front of him today, said McCarthy.Indeed, the tempo in the one-mile Commonwealth Turf Cup was quick, the half-mile going in 46.43 seconds, and the one-two finishers still were secondd-last and last, respectively, as longshot Heiko set that split.dddddddddddd Force the Pass, the 3-2 favorite, got caught three to four paths wide on both turns while stalking the pace, made a bid for the lead in upper stretch, but could not long hold it as Top of Mine closed to his outside and Blacktype forged up the rail. Force the Pass wound up a head out of second as Blacktype stopped the timer in a swift 1:33.43, paying $9.40 to win.Blacktypes career mark now stands at an excellent 7-2-5 from 20 starts as Clement, as so often is the case, having fully utilized Blacktypes allowance conditions. A gelding, Blacktype was bred in France and began his career there. 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t123, 04.11.2018 04:11