Off the Court:

(Photo by Jessica Hoffman)



When Travis Diener says basketball is in my blood, there are plenty of reasons to take him literally.

The evidence not only lies in the family stories of Diener shooting balls into hoops all over the house and in the driveway when he was just four or five years old.

Consider this: One of his sisters played basketball for Lewis University, while another sister plays for Saint Louis University. Three of his cousins have had impressive careers in the sport: one was signed up to play professionally for an Italian team after getting attention for his game at DePaul University. Another cousin, Drew, is the director of basketball operations at the University of Virginia, while yet a third played basketball at West Point.

None other than his uncle, Dick Diener, coached Travis at Goodrich High School in his hometown of Fond du Lac, Wis. Another uncle, Tom Diener, is the coach at Milwaukee Vincent.

Travis said he has played for as long as he can remember.

I pretty much started playing with my Dad when I was a little boy -- shooting basketballs in the basement, the living room I remember always having a basketball around," he said. "It was always in the blood. I really enjoyed the game so I kept playing.

Although he considered himself one of the best players on his team, Diener initially had envisioned himself becoming a basketball coach. He said his goal was to play on the high school team and then go on to play college basketball.

It wasnt until he started playing at Marquette University, where he majored in communications, that he started thinking about the pros.

As my career went on in college, I kept working hard, he said. I worked extremely hard every day. I knew if basketball didnt work out, I always wanted to get into coaching. But then again, I wanted to take basketball as far as I could.

During the offseason, Dieners idea of a good time is spending time back home in Wisconsin.

I like to be around my family, said the 6-1 point guard who talks to his mother just about every day. "My family is the No. 1 reason Im in the NBA. My parents not only were my role models, they were my biggest fans no matter what I decided to do. My two younger sisters played a major role in supporting me as well. Without my family, theres no way I would be where I am right now.

Diener also enjoys playing golf and video games, eating his favorite seafood dishes and watching some of his favorite movies, including "Man on Fire" with Denzel Washington. He doesnt like to travel that much because hes on the road so frequently during the season.

If he had to give one piece of advice to his young fans, it would be to take the advice of the people they know they can trust.

Listen to the people who have your best interest in mind, he said. There are a lot of people who will guide you in the wrong way. You need to listen to your parents, your teachers and the people who dont have an agenda.

Listen to the people who want to help you become successful.