The Portland Trailblazers awarded Gabriel with his first spot in an NBA starting lineup.
Former Stockton Kings Forward Wenyen Gabriel has a reason to celebrate this week. After being acquired by the Portland Trailblazers in late January as the result of a five-player trade between Sacramento and Portland, the 22-year-old had his first NBA start on Friday night in Los Angeles versus the Lakers.
After tip-off, Gabriel wasted no time living up to his nickname, “UpMan,” aggressively blocking Lakers center JaVale McGee within the first minute of the game. Wenyen finished the night with one block, one assist and one rebound as the Blazers went on to defeat LA 127-119.
It was an emotional night, to say the least, as it was the first time the Lakers returned to the hardwood since the tragic and sudden loss of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in a helicopter crash. Postgame, Gabriel shared photos from the memorable night on Instagram with the caption, “Persistence is just another word for faith. Without faith you would not persist. I love this game ❤️#RIPKOBE”
During his seven-game run for the Stockton Kings this season, the Kentucky graduate averaged 19.6 points and 8.6 rebounds in 25 minutes of play.