Marcin Gortat is Already Mentoring the "Eastern Bloc"
Marcin Gortat isn’t afraid of speaking his mind. As a matter of fact, he probably speaks it more than the panel on The View does when breaking down the latest meltdown by a Hollywood starlet. It’s a good thing because it provides a unique perspective into the mind of an NBA player and also entertains the fans.
That brutal honesty can be surprisingly refreshing and just plain surprising all at the same time. That was the case on Media Day when the Polish Hammer told me he was excited to be a mentor to the team’s young bigs. He even went as far as to claim he had met with President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby requesting the team make moves to get younger bigs (a conversation Babby admits he doesn’t quite remember). I jokingly told him he needs to be careful what he wishes for. Training camp solidified that mindset as Miles Plumlee emerged as a legitimate option at center while Alex Len and Slava Kravtsov showed flashes of great what make them intriguing young prospects.
Instead of panicking about his job, Gortat continued to speak his mind. This time, in a new way. During the third quarter of the team’s first preseason game Monday you could hear Marcin scream something from the bench. It wasn’t in the direction of the refs as some players in the league are prone to do. No, instead it was directed at his two young frontcourt mates, Len and Kravtsov. It wasn’t critical. In fact, it was his own special version of words of encouragement.
The phrase, “let’s go Eastern European Bloc” could be heard throughout the building as it came bellowing from the Polish center’s vocal cords. It’s a nickname he has given his protégés. A term that used to reference a group of countries under Soviet control including both Poland and the Ukraine. Although, his younger teammates didn’t quite get the reference at first.
“He just explained that to me last practice,” Ukrainian Center Slava Kravtsov said. “He said ‘European Bloc’ means European Group, like we’re kind of the same. I thought he meant blocked shot, but he told me it’s different. It’s like a group of the same people.”
Don’t worry though, in his new self-appointed role as mentor, Marcin won’t leave any man behind. He’s already committed to getting Miles Plumlee dual citizenship so he can be a part of the club. Alright, so he didn’t say that, but his high praise for the former Duke big man makes it clear that he’ll be part of the group.
“Miles is my bodyguard,” Gortat told me via Twitter -- the best source for all sports information not easily found elsewhere. “He is great.”
As the old saying goes, if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Obviously Gortat doesn’t mind the extra competition. So it doesn’t matter if he speaks his mind. Especially if it is to encourage his newest teammates.