The nickname started because Matthews drove an Audi R8, the same car Tony Stark drove in the “Iron Man” movies. Teammate Jeff Pendergraph (now Ayres) started kiddingly calling Matthews “Tony,” but that soon morphed into “Iron Man,” which stuck.
“I just kind of developed that moniker, that kind of swagger, slash, that alter ego,” Matthews said. “It’s here.”
Matthews, who played five seasons in Portland before signing with the Dallas Mavericks this summer, returns to the Moda Center with mixed emotions Tuesday night.
First and foremost, Matthews is frustrated by his shooting slump and the Mavs losing four out of five games.
“It doesn’t matter where we’re going,” Matthews said. “We need a win, and I need to play better.”
However, there is no question that this is a game Matthews circled as soon as the schedule came out.
His thoughts on the Trail Blazers and his time in Portland:
What are your feelings about the Trail Blazers franchise?
“Oh, nothing but love. Nothing but love. They embraced me. They took a chance on me when people thought they were kind of crazy to do so. They stuck with me. They grew with me. I grew with them. I got nothing but love for the franchise and the fans and the city.”
In The Oregonian this summer, you said you were “pissed off” that they didn’t try to keep you. Was that heat of the moment or do you still feel that way about the Portland front office?
“I’m still upset that everything that I’ve done individually, everything I’ve done as a player didn’t warrant me having a separate conversation not tied to LaMarcus Aldridge. L.A. is my boy and everything, but I still feel like I did enough myself as a player to warrant a conversation or, ‘We’re going to go in this direction,’ that kind of thing.”
Would you have wanted to stay without Aldridge?
“I don’t know. A lot of things would have changed and been different if there would have actually been a conversation, but I don’t know. I can’t say I would, I can’t say I wouldn’t. But that’s neither here nor there right now.”
Do you expect a warm reception at the Moda Center?
“I don’t see why not. I’ve given the fans everything I had every single night, and I feel like they gave that back to me. I’m excited to go there, to play there, to be on the court, to be standing. My last memory there was on my back.”
How would you describe the relationship you had with the fans in Portland?
“I think it’s a great one. We grew together. I was always appreciative of them. I know it probably took them a little bit to warm up to me. I mean, here I am, this undrafted rookie free agent that just signed for $35 million. Coming in, B. Roy’s there, Greg Oden's there, LaMarcus is there, Nic [Batum] is there, Andre Miller is there, [Marcus] Camby. I mean, so many fan favorites are there. Who am I? I think I won them over by every single night leaving everything I had out there.”
How did you grow during your time in Portland?
“Through hardships. There were times where I felt like I wasn’t in positions that I should have been. I had to learn how to really play basketball there. So much of my time in Utah was just energy and excitement and everything being new and just knowing nothing. In Portland, I had to come off the bench behind B. Roy. Then I was thrown in the starting lineup and B. Roy went on. I was actually looked to be the second guy behind LaMarcus. Then the trades come and then we get new guys. I had to really learn to be comfortable in myself and develop my game to really play basketball.”
So I hear the arrow [3-pointer] celebration will be shelved in Portland. Why?
“Just out of a little respect to the fans. That’s where it originated. Not going to shoot one at them. It doesn’t means the 3s aren’t going to be falling, but I’m not going to shoot one [arrow].”