Chat Transcript: Emeka Okafor
Emeka Okafor, the 2005-05 got milk? Rookie of the Year, led all rookies with averages of 15.1 points and 10.9 rebounds in 35.6 minutes played last season for the Charlotte Bobcats. He was one of only nine players in the league to average a double-double and posted 19 consecutive double-doubles from November 21, 2004 to January 1, 2005 - the longest such streak by any NBA player during the season and longest streak for a rookie since 12-time NBA All-Star Elvin Hayes posted 60 straight from October 30, 1968 to February 22, 1969.
Okafor spent a hectic offseason trying to make himself a better player, teammate and person both on and off the court. He started the summer by heading to Europe with Bobcats guard Kareem Rush, and then headed back to Houston to train with the legendary Hakeem Olajuwon. From there, he headed to Los Angeles for a taping of Wheel of Fortune that helped contribute to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund before heading back to Charlotte to prepare for the 2005-06 season.
Okafor chatted live with fans on Monday. Check out what he had to say about the new arena, what video games he's playing right now and much more.
Brad, Charlotte: Emeka, Do you see yourself playing center more this season (with the addition of Sean May)? Which position are you more comfortable playing, PF or C?
Emeka Okafor: I see myself either spot, four or five, it doesn't matter to me. With May in there, we have some flexibility. Often on the court, the four or the five are just numbers.
Terry, La Puente: Hey Emeka, I know you pride yourself on defense and I was wondering, is there anyone you look forward to defending and Matching up against?
Emeka Okafor: Just everybody. I didn't get as many blocks as I would like last year, and I hope to improve that number a little bit..and by that...I mean alot. (Laughing) Ha-Ha.
David, Charlotte: Emeka - good luck this year! talk to us about how it feels to be playing in a brand new arena...somewhere you and the rest of the guys can finally call home!
Emeka Okafor: Thanks buddy, for the good wishes. It's really nice to move into a new home, where everything is fresh. There is lots of buzz and excitement we really appreciate our new home.
Paul (carolina): Hey Meka, you still a big video game player? What are you playing nowadays?
Emeka Okafor: Right now, I'm a Madden-fiend. Last year, I was hooked on Tiger Woods, me and my buddies. But now, all we play is Madden.
Tracy: How do you see Raymond Felton fitting into the offense?
Emeka Okafor: Raymond is a great young player, an excellent addition. He is fast and quick and most importantly to me, he is a great passer (Laughing) Ha-ha. I look forward to playing with him.
Jenn (Washington): What was Europe like? What did you and Kareem do?
Emeka Okafor: Europe was fun. It was a blast. It's nice to see other cultures and new things. We were tourists by day and part of the local scene at night.
Alex: Hey Okafor, I see you spent time training with The Dream, just wondering what was it Like to work out with a Legend and if he showed you anything new?
Emeka Okafor: It was great working out with The Dream. It was very impressive, the shape he was in. He is over 40-years-old, and he can still handle his business!
Canary Islands (Spain): What was like being Olympic so young, surrounded by all those veterans?
Emeka Okafor: It was a good thing for me, a nice start in the NBA. I was able to soak up what the players offered and taught me.
Julienne (W. Hartford): Hi Emeka, How's it going? Well, I just wanted to know how you liked being on Wheel of Fortune? Would you like to do another game show if so which one? Thanks and have fun this season!
Emeka Okafor: Wheel of Fortune was fun, I really enjoyed it. Another show, I'm not sure. I wouldn't want to get kicked off Survivor! I'd show them how it' done.
Commack: Since you were the rookie of the year last year, who do you think will get it this year?
Emeka Okafor: I got to go with Raymond Felton or Mr. Sean May. We need to keep it in the family.
aku (Greensboro,NC): Hello, Emeka what have u done to get yourself physically and mentally ready for the season? I hope u have great season.
Emeka Okafor: Thanks for the well wishes. I just worked hard, in the weight room and on the court. I have every confidence that all the work I did this summer will pay off.
Kenn: Hey Emeka, What's in your mp3 player right now?
Emeka Okafor: A whole lotta nothing. I don't have an IPOD yet. I have it...but it's still in the box. I haven't even opened the box yet. I don't have a stable computer situation yet, so I haven't done it.
Michal(Holic,Slovakia): What is your favorite NBA city when you are on the road and why?
Emeka Okafor: I like Toronto and New York.
Saam (Newport Beach, CA): What do you think of Bernie Bickerstaff as a coach?
Emeka Okafor: Bernie is a great coach. He is very easy to get along with and it has been working out well.
Lee(West Hartford, CT): Happy Halloween Emeka! What was your favorite Halloween costume as a kid? WHat are you plans this year? Handing out candy, Anything good?
Emeka Okafor: Ha-ha (Laughing) You know, my parents didn't let me go much. But, one time, I dressed up as a Ninja. Wow, I just remembered that. I live in a condo now, so I doubt I'll be getting any trick-or-treaters.
Miami, Fl.: Lets say that you have games 2 nights in a row. Can you take us through what it's like after the first game ends and what happens up until the next game? Like do you fly out the same night, how do you fit sleep in, meals, fun time, etc? Thanks!
Emeka Okafor: That's the tricky part. If we play in Charlotte one night and then the next night in Indianapolis. We finish the game, hop on bus, eat on the plane, get to hotel around 3:30 or 4 am, sleep, wake up and go and play our next game. You got to gut it out.
Charlotte, NC: Obviously when playing in college there are hardcore rivalries (of which we dont see much of in the NBA anymore), but, how do things change when you are playing on the same team and teammates now with guys you have played and fought against at the college level? Do you guys still have time to follow your old college teams much?
Emeka Okafor: In the NBA, it's forgive and forget. You leave that on campus. We still follow our teams hard, and brag about our teams and make fun of other guys. But my teammates now are my teammates now. I got to keep it about the Bobcats.
Commack: Do you think you guys have a shot of making the playoffs this year, even though you guys only had 18 wins last year?
Emeka Okafor: Hey, that was last season. We have a new season now and anything is possible -- even the playoffs.
Emeka Okafor: Thanks to the fans for your questions and chatting with me this afternoon. I appreciate the support and hope you enjoy the season.