August 16, 2008
With Charlotteís 2008 Training Camp on the horizon, the players canít wait to get things going as the franchise enters its fifth season, and first under new Head Coach Larry Brown. Over the course of the summer, the Bobcats commitment to improving has been evident at Time Warner Cable Arena, with all 14 players under contract having been seen in the weight room and out on the practice court getting a workout in. Through it all, bobcats.com has been there catching up with the players as they prepare to head to Wilmington, NC, on September 29 for training camp.
Here is what Emeka Okafor had to say about what he has been up to since signing his new contract this offseason and the dedication heís seen from his teammates this summer.
bobcats.com: Alright Mek, last time we saw you was when you were in here in August after signing the new contract. Has the excitement worn off for you and the reality set in yet?
Okafor: Iím just ready to start the season. Weíve got the contract out of the way and the season is around the corner. Iím just trying to get ready and make this run.
bobcats.com: Take us through what youíve been up to since then and where youíve been working out.
Okafor: Iíve pretty much been working out at different places and doing various things to get ready and make sure Iím stronger, while addressing some weaknesses. Iím just trying to improve my overall basketball game.
bobcats.com: We were talking with Jason (Richardson) and he mentioned that the two of you worked out together this offseason. Tell us about how those workouts went.
Okafor: We met up in New York and worked out for a week Ė a week or two actually. We build a little bit of a rapport and built some momentum heading into the season.
bobcats.com: Talking with J-Rich, he mentioned that this year it seems like the commitment level of these guys has risen even more. Heís one of those guys who wants to step up and be a leader, and youíre one of the guys who has been here since Day 1. Talk to us about how much of a leadership role you guys will take on this year.
Okafor: We just have to step up and show all the young fellas and rookies how itís done. We have big expectations this year, and we have to set an example for everyone else to follow.
bobcats.com: What are those expectations?
Okafor: Itís our fifth year now, so itís about time we make that playoff appearance.
bobcats.com: You just got here yesterday with the team. Tell us about what youíve seen from the guys in these two days of workouts.
Okafor: Everybody is working hard. Everybody out here has made good improvements and you can see that theyíve been working diligently over the summer. It just shows that everybody is committed and ready to win.
bobcats.com: What kind of things have you been working on this offseason to add to and improve on your game?
Okafor: Basically just overall agility and movement just to help me out mainly on the defensive side. I didnít block as many shots as I wanted to last year, so I wanted to make sure Iím able to move around and get to those shots quicker this year.
bobcats.com: How excited are you to be learning and working under new Head Coach Larry Brown and his new system?
Okafor: Iím very excited. I think thatís also why the commitment level has risen so much. We know that we have a great coach coming in and we want to make sure to show him that weíre ready. We donít want to disappoint him.
bobcats.com: Coach Brown said he doesnít want players to use training camp to get in shape and that they should be in shape heading into camp. Are these guys going to be ready?
Okafor: Everybody is ready. Everybody on this team is a hard worker. They know what it takes to get in shape, and everyone is already in shape. So thatís not a concern at all.
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