(Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)
Wenyen Gabriel is down in the Orlando bubble as a member of the Portland Trailblazers, the ninth-place team in the Western Conference. Soon he and his Blazer teammates will try to overcome a 3.5-game deficit to sneak into the playoffs ahead of Memphis, the current eighth-seed if the playoffs were to start today.
In the meantime, Gabriel is chatting with the NBA media and today we learned a story of Gabriel’s kind gesture to an Uber driver he befriended over a lost wallet.
As the former Wildcat tells it, he left his wallet in an Uber and couldn’t get back in contact with the driver after the ride had ended. It was bugging Gabriel all day, even kept him up through his pregame nap.
Well on the other side of the problem, the driver, Jon Barnard, found Gabriel’s wallet and remembered where he had dropped the NBA player off. Barnard returned the wallet because he is a good person, but wouldn’t accept money from Gabriel for doing the right thing. Eventually he agreed to take $100, but Gabriel’s reward became a two-parter once coronavirus hit:
“The coronavirus came after that and I knew he was an at-risk person,” Gabriel said. “He was such a kind person that I believed in him. I didn’t want him driving an Uber anymore.”
Barnard can finish the story.
“The rest of the story is that Wenyen deposited $2,500 in my personal account,” Barnard said. “He was not seeking any publicity. His gift has allowed me to not have to drive. In this time of unrest, I thought it would be a positive story.
“I think the Trail Blazers should know about it.
“What makes it more special to me is that Wenyen is not one of the super-high paid guys on the team. But he still helped me.
“Number 35, I’ll be a fan forever.”
Gabriel was hesitant to discuss the story because he didn’t want the publicity from it, the story says. He deserves the publicity and you can read more about it right here from Dwight Jaynes over at NBC Sports.
When basketball gets going again, Gabriel has an opportunity to play some meaningful minutes off the Portland bench. Trevor Ariza opted out of the trip to Orlando, leaving open 33 minutes per game, and Gabriel is in the group of wings who will replace him.
Portland’s first game is July 31 against Memphis, so it’s a big one.
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 5, 2020