One-on-One with "Nene" Hilario
Posted: May 28, 2002
One of the most interesting and mysterious draft prospects, Maybyner “Nene” Hilario unveiled himself to the Phoenix Suns in a private workout on Tuesday. The 6-9 forward, who plays for the Brazilian club Vasco De Gama and the Brazilian National Team, is expected to be a lottery pick next month.
Following the practice, the Portuguese speaking Nene spoke with reporters through his translator (Joe Santos) about his game and the upcoming NBA Draft.
Question: How has your experience in the United States helped you become an NBA player?
Hilario: I really enjoy being in the U.S. I had a lot of baggage to bring with me. I enjoy working out with bigger, stronger guys now. I know the NBA game is very physical and as they say, “You have to be a big dog.” That’s the style of game I play.
Question: How do you see yourself fitting into the NBA? Do you feel you can compete at this level?
Hilario: For sure. Once I get into the rhythm of team unity and practicing with the team, I will adapt well to the game. I hope to adapt well to the language, too. I hope to be in the league a long time.
Question: Did your last year’s Goodwill Games experience against Team USA’s Dream Team help you prepare for the NBA?
Hilario: I really admired the attitudes that the Americans had. They respected us. They didn’t know who we were. Anyone they faced they didn’t really know who they were, but they still respected the game and respected the players. They were very humble. After matching up against (Indiana Pacers forward) Jermaine O’Neal and (New Jersey Nets forward) Kenyon Martin I knew physically I compared to them and I just knew I could adapt well.
Question: How much did that tournament play into your decision to turn pro?
Hilario: That definitely helped me. I knew I could play at that level. The Brazilian media was playing me up and comparing me to a lot of players. They said there were a lot of NBA teams looking at me. The final piece was working out with coaches in Cleveland and playing against some good competition. I also worked out with some NFL trainers.
Question: What is your contract situation with his Brazilian team Vasco De Gama?
Hilario: There is no more contract.
Question: Are you confident you will play in the NBA next year?
Hilario: For sure. God willing.
Question: Are you concerned that it may affect your draft position?
Hilario: I’m confident with the team that I have built in the United States of lawyers and agents that they will get the job done and resolve this. If it does affect it at all then really hurts the Brazilian name, the team there.
Question: Are you playing for your country Brazil?
Hilario: I’m not sure. That’s definitely on my back, but first of all, I’m playing for myself. It’s one of my dreams playing in the NBA. Second, my family has always given me support. Lastly, I’m playing for the people of Brazil, my fans. Hopefully, my new fans here.
Question: Is that a lot of responsibility representing the country of Brazil?
Hilario: Yes and no. I was born there, but nothing was given to me. I’ve worked very hard to reach the point I’m at coming from a humble family. That’s just an extra support for me, an extra moral support.
Question: You’ve been compared to Hakeem Olajuwon and Shawn Kemp. How do you feel about those comparisons and whom do you compare yourself to?
Hilario: I don’t compare myself to those two because they are stars and I’m nobody right now. It’s very flattering and it’s a lot of responsibility to compared to them. But I really want to be known as Nene, which is a mix of all those (comparisons).