WW presents “Distant Voices,” a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.

On the day of the first Blazers preseason game, and the start of his 13th year covering the team, beat reporter Casey Holdahl accidentally locked himself in a stairwell at Moda Center. Twice.

It's a long story. But the point of it is that the realities of this upcoming, pandemic-shortened NBA season are going to take some getting used to.

"A building you usually show up in regular times to work, where there are thousands of people there, to go from that to basically a completely empty building, it's a bit dystopian," he says. "It gives you a sense of how different things are than they were eight months ago."

One other thing that's different from eight months ago? The Blazers might actually be good.

After an unusually active offseason that saw the team address its defensive issues, resign Rodney Hood and Carmelo Anthony, and get back to (mostly) full strength, it's looking like a big year for Portland—Damian Lillard is even receiving some MVP buzz.

And yet, many analysts still seem to forget the team exists.

WW talked to Holdahl about why the Blazers seem forced to play the perpetual underdog, and how the pandemic has changed his job—and yes, he tells the full stairwell story.

See more Distant Voices interviews here.