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Chuck Hayes, a scrappy power forward, is in his third season with the Rockets. He finished second among the team's leading rebounders last season and is largely regarded as one of the team's best low-post defenders. During the Rockets' 2007-08 season, Hayes will blog about his experiences on and off-the-court.
November 19, 2007
I've had the same pregame routine ever since I came into the NBA.
Before the game, I always listen to R&B. I'll be listening to that when I'm driving to Toyota Center. If we're on the road, I'll put on my iPod when we're on the bus heading over to the arena. I got to be relaxed and cool.
When I get to the game, I go shoot. I do some pick-and-roll stuff and some dribble hand-off stuff. After that, I'm always finishing with 300 jump ropes. I got 100 with both feet, 50 on the left, 50 on the right and then another 100 alternating. Once I'm done with that, I take off my shoes and let my feet relax.
During the national anthem, I always talk to my cousin. My cousin passed away when he was 14 years old. We were really close. His dream was to play in the league so I'm always talking to him during the intros.
After the intros are done, I get nervous. I'm nervous before every game.
I started doing this routine when I got to the NBA. I never did it at Kentucky. Back then, I was just having fun. But here, I'm living the dream where I got to remember where I came from and where it all started.
I've got my whole family coming into town for Thanksgiving. My Mom has already got the meal planned out for us. I'm really looking forward to it.
The meal is going to be huge. Honestly, I'll probably have leftovers for the next month. I just got to find a place to put it in the fridge.
I should be able to play against the Miami Heat on Friday after eating all that stuff. Honestly, it's really good that we're leaving Thursday because I would probably eat all day Thursday and Friday before the game. It would have been tough to play.
Beer or Water?
When I got to the locker room on Saturday night, there was a leak above my locker. I don't know if it was water or beer dripping on me. Last year, I had beer dripping on me. When you have beer dripping on your clothes, that's a bad thing. It's only a good thing to have beer dripping from the ceiling when you got some of the guys over to watch a football game.
I just became an uncle. My sister gave birth to a baby girl -- Shemya Alexandria Lacey. It's been a great year for my mother. She's got two grand babies. One grandson. And one granddaughter. She's looking forward to being a grandmother. She's going to spoil her kids and as soon as they get all fussy and cranky, she's going to hand them back over to me and my sister.
November 9, 2007
Well, I guess I got in the way of a Hall of Famer. I'm sure you've seen it by now, but in the first quarter of Tuesday's game against San Antonio, I got elbowed over my right eye by Tim Duncan.
He swung his elbows through to get position on me just as I put my head in front of him. Five stitches later, I've got a puffy eye to show for it.
It hurt at the time and threw me into a daze for a minute. But I'm fine now.
The most interesting thing is that I couldn't open up my eye on Wednesday morning because it was so swollen. It was fat. My son, Dorian, kept wanting to play with it. He noticed something was wrong with it so he kept wanting to grab it and touch my stitches. If he had gotten ahold of my eye, I would have needed a few more stitches.
Honestly, though, I'm used to having these puffy eyes. I've got scars over each of my eyes in the same location. It's normal getting stitches between my eye lashes and eye brow because I play so tight on centers and power forwards and they tend to swing their elbows. This is the fourth time I've needed stitches. I've had two over each eye. It just happens.
Could I wear a mask to protect myself? No. I can't play with a mask. If get stitches, so be it.
I can't believe Kentucky, my alma mater, lost to Gardner Webb. Gardner Webb? I thought that was maybe a children's book before we laid an egg against them.
It just doesn't look good when you're one of the top programs in the country. Even if we do have a successful season, that loss is going to show up on our NCAA Tournament resume. It looks bad.
The guys in the locker room have been letting me have it. Before that upset, none of us even knew where Gardner Webb was at. Now, we all know it's in North Carolina. The guys are saying that Kentucky might not even be an NCAA Tournament team this year. We might have to go to the NIT. I'm getting it from all angles.
I'm even hearing we're a football school now. But I don't believe that. We're still a basketball school.
We've gotten off to a pretty decent start. We feel like we let the Dallas game get away from us, but that's part of this profession. We're going to lose some tough ones.
We're learning more and more about each other and Coach Adelman's system. We've got a ton to get better at and there are going to be some tough stretches coming up in the next couple of weeks.
But we're happy about where we're at. It's good to get off to a good start out of the blocks. If you dig yourself into a hole, you're constantly looking at what the other teams are doing because you have to worry about who you have to catch. It's good to have a good start on everyone so that teams have to catch up to us instead.
My son is sick
I've had a tough week because my six-month old son has been having some ear aches. He was crying and crying and he just kept looking at us like, 'Why don't you know what's wrong with me?' I felt so helpless.
He's finally getting better. But that was the first time I've really had to deal with that. He didn't want to take his medicine. I guess it didn't taste good. He kept spitting out on me. I'm glad he's over it.
He is a lot like me though. He's got my smile and he's got puffy eyes like me. That's little No. 44 right there.
November 1, 2007
Bring on the Big Men
I've got a tough job in the Western Conference. I'm an undersized power forward going against superstars. Seriously, I'm probably guarding an All-Star every other night in this conference. I have to pick and choose when I'm going to foul and when I'm going to get help. But it never ends. I'm getting ready for it. I've got Carlos Boozer, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki coming up. They're all great.
No, it's not really fair that I have to guard each of those guys three to four times per season. I got Duncan four times. I got Dirk four times. I Boozer three. On top of that, I got the guys in Phoenix and I'll get David West in New Orleans. I'll even get the forward combo in Denver. It never stops. But I'm not complaining. I'll do my best to make their shots hard.
It's not the most celebrated job in the league. But I'll take it. I'd rather guard Tim Duncan for 48 minutes in four games per year than do any other profession in this world.
Believe it or not, I've got a new hobby -- yard work.
I just moved into a new home and the guy that I bought it from told me that he put in a sprinkler system. I thought that was pretty good. But I didn't think I was going to have to worry about it since the summer is almost over. Unfortunately, I started noticing some dead spots in my back yard and I couldn't help doing something about it. I called the guy to see how to work the sprinkler system. He told he had like 12 different stations for it and that some of the sprinklers had to be replaced. It was killing me at first. But now, I kinda like it.
I had to go to Home Depot and find a good sprinkler system. But when I was there, I started thinking about some of the other things that we needed to add. I got a lighting system and put the lights up because we didn't have any lights. We only had a light over the front porch. So I put some lights in the flower bed. That's right, I'm handy man now.
The more I was doing it, the more and more I felt like my father. He used to do stuff like that. I would wake up on Saturday mornings and he'd be doing this stuff. Now, I feel just like him. I am a Junior. He must have given me his handy man work ethic.
I'll never hire anyone to do my yard work. I'll keep up with it. I've got some weeds to pull when I get back into town from our road trip. I've also got to clear out some things in the flower bed. Hopefully, I'll have the energy to mess with it.
My Free Throw Shooting
I've had games where I've knocked down my free throws, but I obviously missed one pretty badly in the Lakers game. I just didn't get myself relaxed.
It's a confidence thing. When I'm on the practice court, I knock them down. I'm probably a 70 percent free-throw shooter when I'm on the practice court. But when I'm in the game, my nerves get over me.
I've just got to get more confidence in the games. I have to carry over what I'm doing in practice to the games. I can't let my nerves shake me up. I can't step to the line thinking that I've got to make this. I've just got to shoot it.
I'm really trying to be more balanced when I shoot. I try not to move my feet at all. But my left foot has a twitch. It just keeps coming up on me. I need to get into the shooting pocket and keep my balance. I do well when I just let it go. It's just confidence. When I get fouled, I just need to know that I am going to knock my free throws down.
Hayes vs. Macha
After Wednesday's practice in Salt Lake City, I got to do some boxing in the Utah Jazz's practice facility. They had some boxing gloves and a punching bag in the workout room next to their practice court.
Honestly, I've never really done boxing. But I'd like to. In fact, I'd really like to practice on our strength and conditioning coach, David Macha.
We always joke around about beating each other up. He always tells me how much he's going to hurt me and I do the same. He's been telling me since I got here that he's going to beat me up when we get to the parking lot.
Really, though, we''re good friends. When I was a rookie, he used to get in my head and mess with me. But last year, we became tighter. He became a guy that whenever I had a problem, I could go to him for advice. He even calls me if he sees that I'm down on myself at practice. He'll just check up on me. He's a guy that I can confide in.
That's my guy. He always makes fun of my cankles and I always make fun of his duck walk. There's no hard feelings between us. He's a good dude.
I'd still like to fight him though.
October 26, 2007
Let the Games Begin
I'm ready to get the season started. I've been been anxious for it since the end of last season. The summer and preseason have been too long so I'm glad we're finally getting to the real games.
I really want to see what this team is going to look like with the new system and all the new talent that we have.
Obviously, I think every team is under observation at this point. We're learning just like everyone else. We're trying to figure out what fits. But I do feel really good about our team.
It's way too early to guess who's going to be good and who isn't in the league. Obviously, you can have an idea about some teams. But the preseason projections don't mean much. When it was all said and done, no one expected Golden State to be a playoff team. I'm just hoping we come out and start off well.
Woodson for Heisman
My boys at Kentucky couldn't pull it off against Florida.
But we're still in the hunt for a BCS game. We weren't picked do anything, but now, we're in the top 15.
Since I can't really push Kentucky for the national title anymore, I'm pushing Andre' Woodson for the Heisman. My man needs to win it. We need to bring the Heisman back to Lexington, Kentucky.
Honestly, I didn't get too much grief from my teammates about Kentucky's loss to Florida. They thought they gave them a great game. Florida is a tough team. We're getting more respect here in the locker room since I've been talking so highly of them.
I watched the game in the hotel room before our preseason game against Seattle. I was screaming through the whole hotel room. After the first play when we scored a touchdown, I was running down the hallway screaming. Too bad I couldn't scream at the end of the game.
Gotta Be the Shoes
There are some good benefits to playing with Yao Ming. Right now, I think the Chinese shoe companies are taking over this locker room.
The shoe company that I have a deal with is Li-Ning, a Chinese-based shoe company. Shane Battier is wearing PEAK, while Luis Scola and Steve Francis are with Atna.
Apparently, the Hayes' shoes are big sellers in China. I'm happy about that because Li-Ning has been good to me. I really like the shoes and I really like the design. I actually like them a lot better than I thought I would.
I think some of the fellas really like them, too. A bunch of them keep telling me how they're going to cross over from their brand to mine. But some of these guys still love their American shoes, so I doubt everyone is going to do it.
I probably do owe Yao Ming something for my deal.
Living among Boxes
I'm surrounded by boxes in my new place. We haven't unpacked. Heck, we're not even close to getting it done.
There are just boxes all over the new house. I probably won't get around to unpacking with the season about to begin. I'll probably be still living with all these boxes next summer.
October 19, 2007
We went almost a week between preseason games, but we've been scrimmaging a ton over the past week.
I've been really happy about that. Scrimmages help so much because it's just repetition. It gives us a chance to get used to Coach Adelman's new system and get used to what our players can do in the system. We're seeing what everyone can do best and how the personnel on this team fits into the system. Right now, we're really creating a bond.
I probably haven't scrimmaged this much since college. But that's to be expected with a new system and a new coach. We're all learning and we're starting to pick it up.
I told everyone on my blog last week that my alma mater -- Kentucky -- was going to shock LSU. They pulled it off for me.
During the week leading up to the game, I had been talking them up in the locker room. But everyone in the locker room doubted me. But they didn't know I had the scouting report and the injury report. I knew we were going to shock the world.
Now, we got a big one this week against Florida -- the defending champs. We're going to take care of Florida this week and we're looking for the Bowl Championship Series national title game. OK, so we do need some luck on our side to get to the national title game. Heck, we need a lot of luck. But the college football Gods are looking down on Kentucky. We're in good shape right now.
The big news this week is that I just moved into a new home in Missouri City. I'm really happy with the place. It's my first home.
We're already planning a big family gathering for Thanksgiving. In fact, I know my mother is already looking forward to it. I know I am because of her cooking. She is coming into the kitchen and she's not leaving.
October 12, 2007
Two Weeks into Camp
It's going good. It's getting better as far as chemistry. We're starting to find our roles with the new offensive system. I'm making a pretty good adjustment to it. As long as I keep getting reps with it, I'll get it.
Obviously, Luis Scola and I are competing for minutes at power forward. It's going fine. He's a great player and it's up to the coaches who will play. All we can do is our job. We have to go out there and let our play speak for itself. We just have to leave it in the hands of the coaches and trust their judgment.
First of all, let me just say this if the first time that I've ever been privileged enough to speak about my alumni's football program.
That's right. The University of Kentucky is a top 25 team. We're trying to gain respect as a football school. I really think everyone should check us out this weekend because we got the No. 1 team -- LSU -- coming into Lexington, Ky. We might shock some people.
I've been a University of Kentucky football fan since I went there. I knew a lot of the players when I was there so I became a fan by association. But ever since I left, I never really had anything to brag about until now. So my voice will be heard in our locker room.
In the locker room, we got a couple of Big Ten fans, WAC fans and ACC fans. But I don't think anyone else here has a team ranked in the top 25. So right now, I got the upper notch on everybody here.
I've been a father for six months now -- and my son, Dorian, is killing me. He's spoiled already. I blame myself. But why not? He's my first born. He's a workload, but he brightens up my day. I always look forward to seeing him.
He's spoiled because he always wants to be held. He always wants us to hold him and talk to him. If we just sit him down next to us, that's not good enough. He wants to be talked to. He wants a conversation. And if he doesn't get it, he's going to fuss and he's going to whine.
He actually got to see his first Rockets game against Panathinaikos on Thursday night. I'm hoping all the loud fans will get him excited for the season.
I didn't order the two hot dogs that are sitting next to my locker. Those are Justin Reed's. I don't even know what's on it. Is that cheese? Mustard. Ketchup. And cheese.
That's definitely not my pregame meal. I would not be able to play after eating that. Never.