Kemba Walker | 2015-16 Blog
Wrapping Up a Memorable Season
Point guard Kemba Walker will continue to check in with hornets.com periodically for his running 2015-16 blog. Keep checking back to see what Kemba has to say throughout the NBA Playoffs:
Monday, May 2, 3:35 p.m.
We accomplished a lot this season. We won three-straight playoff games for the first time in years for this franchise. It was just a really fun year with a really good group of guys. We worked hard each and every day to become a better team. Nobody expected us to get to the playoffs and there was no way anybody thought we’d make it to a Game 7 against the Heat. It was a great learning experience for us. It’s going to make us extremely hungry to want to get back to the playoffs and have more success.
I’m hoping we’re able to bring our whole team back – that would be lovely, but that might only be in a perfect world. Thanks to the business side of this league, sometimes that doesn’t happen. It might be hard to bring some guys back because we had guys that played well and other teams might want them. Hopefully we can get the majority of this team back because it was a pleasure playing with these guys.
We just got along so well here this season. We did things off the court together. We had bible studies together. We went out to eat all the time together. I think a lot of it had to do with our faith – that helped us a lot. On the court, we all sacrificed some things for each other and went out there and played hard each and every night. When we all see each other working hard, that helps a lot.
It was a really good season for me. I think I only missed one game, which is a huge accomplishment. I take pride in trying to play each and every night, so that was huge. I also shot the ball really well this year, which was something I wanted to do for the last couple of year. Things were able to really pan out this year. Individually, I’m going to be ready to have a really big summer. I’m going to work hard and come back better than ever. I’m sure my teammates are willing to do the same. I haven’t had the chance to break things down yet and say that these certain things are what I want to work on. Right now, I’m trying to relax my mind, my body and just unwind a little bit. It’s been a long, brutal year, but it’s been fun. Now I’m going to give myself a little time before locking in on the things I have to work on. I just want to take some time so I can have another huge season next year!
Thursday, April 28, 4:13 p.m.
What a Game 5 in Miami, huh? That was fun, but it was a grind-it-out win. We just made the plays necessary down the stretch to win the game. We could have easily folded. We were down seven or something like that with I think about two minutes left. But we fought back for a huge win. We just kept telling each other that we were right there and we were in a great situation. The game is not over until it’s over. You just keep making the plays necessary to make. That’s what we do. Different guys made different plays and it was just an overall unbelievable team effort.
I know it sounds cliché to say “it’s not over til it’s over,” but it’s true with this group of guys. We are very resilient. We fight until it’s over. We play hard at both ends. Anything can happen through the course of an NBA game – it was kind of an example of that last night. Courtney (Lee) missed a layup and then comes back with one of the biggest threes of the game. Anything can happen. He definitely saved us these last couple games. He’s been awesome throughout this whole series. We love him and we feed off his energy. He’s just so solid – a very solid guy and a very solid player.
I know I’ve said this before but I think one of the keys to our team is we don’t just rely on one or two guys. We have different guys step up. I didn’t shoot particularly well last night, but we have different guys – Nic (Batum) hit big shots, Jeremy Lin hit big shots, Marvin (Williams) hit two big threes. That just goes to show what kind of team we have. If one guy isn’t playing well, the next guy steps up. And that’s how it’s supposed to be man, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Everybody is supposed to contribute. So if things aren’t going well, the next guys have to step up. Last night was a huge example of that. We had multiple guys step up.
It’s crazy because with each passing win, we start to realize how big it is for us, the organization and our fans. After every game, it becomes the biggest win at that point. But that was a huge win especially to beat them in Miami where they play extremely well so that was definitely a huge win. Now it’s back to Charlotte for Game 6 and I know it’s going to be fun. I know our crowd is going to be rocking and they are excited to get this game started. Hopefully we can close out. We are going to get Miami’s best tomorrow and we are going to bring our best as well. We know we haven’t accomplished anything yet. It’s not over man. You know, they still have guys who understand and know how to win. It’s going to be tough. They are going to give it their best shot and so we have to match them. We’re going to have to feed off our crowd’s energy. We always do. They always show us great love. They always bring the noise and help us get intense so we will feed off of that. We want to do this together.
Tuesday, April 26, 6:33 p.m.
That Game 4 win was fun! We needed another big win and we got it. I just love the fact that my teammates and coaching staff have tremendous confidence in me. That makes it a lot easier for me, to know that guys want to put the ball in my hands in all kinds of situations – especially the playoffs against a really good team. I was excited to have that opportunity. It was fun – the building was rocking and the fans were great the whole night. It was a big moment for me and my teammates.
Now that we’re back in Miami, we just have to play good on defense. We’ve been playing really good defense as of late and want to continue that. We need to continue to rebound and close out better on certain guys, but for the most part, it’s going to be about defense. We just want to be prepared and try to come into their building and try to steal one tomorrow. That’s all we’re thinking about right now – trying to get another win. Right now, we need to get a road win. Both teams did a good job of protecting their home court, now we need to get a big win here in Miami.
I know we’re coming off two big wins, but I don’t know if I’d say we’re the team with the momentum. Both teams play so well at home. There’s always a different type of confidence when you’re playing in front of your home fans. Miami plays really well here at home. We did play pretty well the last two games and we want to continue to play better. I think we can carry over the things we did the last to games and bring them here. That would help us and give us the opportunity – give us that chance to win.
Sunday, April 24, 3:04 p.m.
Last night was my biggest win in my five years with this team. I was tired of seeing those graphics about the losing streak next to my sad, puppy-dog face on TV. It was 12 games long, so to get that monkey off our back was pretty exciting. It was my first career playoff win, and it was fun to be able to do it here at home. It was amazing, but I want more. We want more. One is not enough.
It was special to be able to do this with a total team effort. Losing Nic (Batum to a foot injury in Game 2) was huge, but I’m so confident in the guys that have to fill his role. Guys on this team are always ready to play because they’ve worked so hard all year to help this team win games. That’s what happened last night. I didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but Big Al (Jefferson) played well, Frank (Kaminsky) played well, Jeremy Lin played well and Marvin (Williams) played well. There are always other guys who step up and play well. That’s how it has to be in this league. That’s why there are 15 players on your roster. You never know who is going to be needed.
It was exciting to have Al back in the starting lineup with me. It was like old times. I knew that he had come out playing well to start the series, and we had to make an adjustment with Nic out. It’s pretty good to have him out there for some added offense. We can always give Big Al the ball. Whenever I need a break, we can feed him. Whenever he needs a break, I can go or we can get it to J-Lin or other guys on the perimeter. It’s fun to have him back in the starting lineup.
With Frank being in the starting lineup, it was a bit surprising, but I know the things he can do. I was really happy for him, and he showed out. He played really well and coach went to him. He put the ball in the hole and that’s what its all about.
It was huge for us to come out and play the way we played. We were locked in. We just made so many mistakes in Miami and wanted to clean those mistakes up. Game 3 helped us do that, especially here being at home. That always helps and gives you that extra boost. The crowd – we feed off those guys. It’s pretty intense out there. It’s fun, and to come out and get this first win at home was pretty cool. Now it’s up to us to get one more tomorrow. That’s really important. We have to come out and show that intensity. Just like our fans, we want to win Game 4 tomorrow!
Monday, April 18, 4:11 p.m.
Obviously, we didn’t get off to the kind of start that we wanted to here in Miami. I think the Heat just played really well. They made shots and stuck to their game plan and it worked out really well for them. For us – we just didn’t play well and didn’t stick to the game plan that coach (Steve Clifford) had for us at all. Early on we struggled to make shots, but we got better as the game went on. It was just a little bit too late. There’s an intensity that comes with these playoff games, and we have to be able to match Miami’s intensity. They came out really strong and very intense. We knew that they would. We just didn’t match that.
We were all really anxious to play and get this going but we just weren’t ourselves in Game 1. I can’t take anything away from those guys – they played really well, but as far as us, we just didn’t play our style of basketball. After watching film today, we saw it was really brutal. We just didn’t do the things that we had to do to give ourselves the best opportunity to win that game. I’m just happy that we have more opportunities to play, because we have to do better. We just have to do better. To a man, we understand that now. We just have to be locked in. It’s what we have to do.
I think that Game 2 will be different. We’re going to come out a lot better. I know we’ve only lost back-to-back games once since January but the playoffs are different too. It’s not the regular season any more and those guys are a lot different as well. They have guys like D-Wade who has championships and knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. He showed everybody last night that he had his team ready to play. But we’re going to come back. We’re going to come back stronger and better. We’re going to fight. We’re going to give it everything we have and we’re going to try and get a W in Game 2.
This next game is important. We just have to play better. We have to play better, man. We all want to win. That’s our focus. We’re going in with the mindset that we have to do anything possible, as hard as we can to get that W.
As for me, I know there was some talk about my knee, but I’m fine. I’m feeling pretty good and just resting it today, which is the smartest thing to do so I can be 100 percent for Game 2. We’ve got a couple days before the next game, and now I think its good to have that time to let me rest up. These two days are really important, but at the same time it kind of sucks. When you lose, you just want to get back on the court and play again. But that’s how the playoffs are. We have these days in between to get better, learn from our mistakes and get ready. We will be ready.
Saturday, April 16 - 4:06 p.m.
The playoffs are here and I’m just focused. Things are a lot different now as you enter the playoffs. There is more attention to detail and more concentration required. We’re playing against a really good team in Miami, so that focus needs to be there. Everybody is excited and anxious at the same time. It’s going to be fun.
It was important to get a really good day of practice in today. These last couple days have been really good for us. We’ve been able to get a little bit of rest and get some solid practice time in to really concentrate on the things we need to concentrate on. We need to be locked in. Looking at how our matchups went in the regular season, we know this is going to be a tough series. It’s going to be a battle. It’s the playoffs. Both teams are hungry and both teams want to win, so I think it’s going to be a great series. They got a guy like D-Wade, who has been so much, won championships and knows what it takes. We’ve got guys who have been to the playoffs but not all the way. But we’re looking to take on a new challenge and become a team that everybody knows.
I know there are going to be some changes from my last playoff experience. When I was here against Miami in the playoffs a couple years ago, I had to deal with getting doubled and getting blitzed a lot but you could tell the Heat’s primary focus was on Al (Jefferson) before he got hurt. I’m not sure how they’re going to play it this time, but it can’t make a difference. If we make the right plays, we’re going to be fine. We’ve got a lot of weapons on the offensive end, so whatever they do, I’ve just got to try and take advantage of what they show us and be ready for whatever they throw at me.
I know that it helps that I’ve been here and had that first playoff experience though. That helped me a lot. I’m older and more mature now. A couple of years in the NBA counts for a lot. I can manipulate defenses better, so I’m ready for it. This was the goal at the beginning of the season and we accomplished it. We’re here and it’s been exciting. I lot of people didn’t think we’d make it to the playoffs this year – but we did. It started early in the season because we knew we could be a really special team. We’re here in the playoffs now and looking to make some noise. Everybody’s happy. Everybody is excited. We were all ready to get on this plane and head to Miami to play Game 1. It’s cool to get the chance to be on national TV as well, because we didn’t have that chance this season. It’s a new experience for us and we’re really looking forward to it.
Tuesday, March 15 - 4:37 p.m.
To my fans, let me say thanks for your patience. I know its been a while since I blogged, but its been a crazy few weeks. We’ve been playing well. We had to play well like that in order to get back to the position that we’re in and challenging for the playoffs. There really wasn’t any secret to what we’ve been doing though – just hard work went into it. Our preparation leading up to the games has been strong and the coaching staff, those guys are putting together some great game plans for us to follow, and we’ve done a great job executing those game plans. Defensively we’ve been really good and really clamping down, especially late. We’re making the plays necessary to win late and that’s why we’ve been playing well.
For me, personally, there really hasn’t been a point where I sat back and said, ‘Man, I’ve got it going.’ I’ve just been making a lot of shots, including from three and that’s what’s been helping me a lot. I’ve been spending a lot of time in our practice gym and getting some shots up. I mean, that’s what it’s been. It’s all of the off days and all the warmups leading up to the games where I’ve been feeling it and that’s how I’m gonna shoot the ball well. It’s all about preparation – that’s what’s been helping me make shots in the games and I just keep growing more confident. I know there was an article that came out recently talking about how I changed my shot, but I want people to know I didn’t change my shot, well I didn’t change my shot much. Not much at all actually. Just one little tweak, but nothing major at all. My shot’s the same right now, it’s just going in more. That’s it. I mean for the most part it’s just been reps – I just have to get a lot of shots up. Especially in the summer. We just continuously worked the whole summer and that’s why.
This stretch has been nuts here as of late though. We’re getting healthier – Al Jefferson’s back and I love it. We’re healthy. And when MKG went down again, we added Courtney Lee, and all of us have been growing together. We’re coming together at the right time. It helps a lot. We’re growing closer and closer as a team on the basketball court, and that’s what’s been helping us get over the hump, you know we’re really together. Courtney’s been helping us out a lot as well. He’s just so smart, plays his role, and doesn’t try to do too much. He’s really starting find a groove as well now, so that’s gonna help us a lot. He’s a veteran player who’s been through a lot, so to have him is good. Courtney is a big addition in the playoff push. The playoffs are the goal and should always be the goal for every team – to get into the playoffs. That’s what the regular season is for. Then, when you get to the playoffs, you talk about winning the championship. That’s just the nature of it. Early on, you might not want to talk about or use the work playoffs. But when it gets later and later, I mean it’s just… it is what it is, especially right now the way the Eastern Conference is so tight you know. It’s a few teams that really have to battle with these last couple games to get to the playoffs.
Right now we’re playing really well at home, man. It’s been great. Our fans have been great and you know, we’ve been feeding off their energy. Just for us to be home and sleep in our own beds at night, I mean it just feels good. You know we had those long road trips which were pretty tough early in the season but we also fought our way back to playing well on the road. We’re playing awesome but we just gotta stay locked in! We gotta continue to stay hungry, stay confident and stay together.
Finally, I know this is kind of a fun time of year. March is here and basketball is in full swing. I saw what UConn did in their conference tournament and all I can say is that it’s a magical school, man. Year after year something amazing happens. What can you say? Year after year something crazy happens for my school. I mean it’s the best school in the world, man. But we’re looking for another magical run after a pretty good run in the conference tournament. You know, now it’s time to put together a little run in the NCAA tournament. You know there’s no time to get hotter than now. So hopefully they can stay hot and pull out some huge wins because its gonna be a kind of a tough road for these guys. The first game against Colorado is gonna be pretty tough but you know we should get it.
Sunday, Feb. 7 - 3:03 p.m.
January was a tough month for us, but we were trying to do our best to get back on track and get to the All-Star break with a pretty good record. We’re hoping to get back to .500 or above here. We just want to keep on playing better, playing well and to get guys healthy - that’s the main part right there, to just get our full team back together. That would help us a lot.
We got a big-time lift with the return of MKG. He’s a game changer. You can see in the games he’s played already that he’s made a huge difference for us. His impact is huge for our team. We missed him. We missed him a lot. I’m glad he was able to come back early and I’m glad he’s healthy. It’s going to be nice for him to see all his hard work is finally about to pay off. Before he got hurt, he worked so hard on his game - just his shot and everything. He’s worked so hard to become a good offensive player, because we all know how good he is on defense, but now he’s showing it on both ends. It was crazy watching him out west before that Portland game. He was so anxious. He couldn’t sleep at night. He couldn’t take a nap before the game. He just could not wait to play. I know the feeling. I’m just happy that he’s finally back. I’m kind of surprised how quickly he’s just jumped right in though. Rhythm is something that is really tough to come by, especially when you’ve been out for 48 games. But when you work as hard as he has and have put the time and effort in, you’re going to find success. It’s great for me to see too because we have a special relationship. That’s like my little brother. He’s a good dude. I’ve been around him for quite some time now and have known him since high school as well. This is obviously the most time we’ve spent together and I’ve found out how good of a kid he is. He’s a really good teammate who cares about people and works hard. That’s how we connected. We both work hard and are always getting after it - that’s how we connect, through our hard work.
While he was out, people had to step up. Then a lot of our guys got hurt, so I knew I had to step up, but that’s how it is when you’re a leader. I’m the leader of this team, and when it’s time to win, I know the ball is going to come to me and I’ll have to make the necessary plays to win games. I need to show that leadership. I gotta be a leader at all times, so that’s what I try to do. I know that I’m having the best season of my career thus far with the percentages and stuff if you look at the numbers, but I think my leadership has been at its best and separated me a lot this year. A lot of it has to do with my teammates allowing me to be a leader too - allowing me to talk when things need to be said and not taking things the wrong way. Those guys just make things easy. When you have a team like that, it’s pretty cool. When times are hard and the team can be down, those are the types of guys you need in your locker room. Guys like MKG and Nic (Batum) have been behind me the whole way, and they were there trying to pump me up around All-Star time too. That’s cool and I appreciate them for that. It just goes to show how into the game and into the season the guys are. We’re all rooting for each other. I’m not disappointed at all not making the All-Star Team. I’m happy that I was even mentioned as a snub or whatever. I’m fine with that because I understand there were some good options. I think Isaiah Thomas deserves it a lot. He’s been playing extremely well and his team has found success. He’s carried his team to W’s night-in and night-out, so I’m happy for him - especially as a smaller point guard like myself - and really praise him. Then with John (Wall), our records are pretty comparable and he’s having a great season as well - he’s top five in assists and putting up some points. He’s up there in double-doubles every night and is a great player who deserves to make the All-Star Game. Im sure he’ll be there every year for years to come, so I’m not disappointed at all. I’m actually happy for those guys who made it. My time will come. If we would have been winning more, there might have been a better argument, but we weren’t. Still, I know my time will come.
Speaking about time though, how about these Panthers? This is their time. It’s really exciting to see those guys in the Super Bowl. Since I’ve been here - Cam and I came up with our teams together and I’ve seen his growth every year. He’s unbelievably talented. People said he would never be this good, he’d never be a great passer, da da da da da - he just proved everybody wrong. I’m happy for him. I’m happy for the Panthers organization because they deserve it. They’ve worked hard over the years and have got better and better. It’s very impressive, especially with the way they’re playing and winning - there’s so much enthusiasm and they’re having so much fun. There’s people not liking it and talking about Cam dancing - what do you want him to do? I love it. I love it. He’s out there having a great time and it’s exciting to watch. It’s all about enthusiasm. Nothing good is done without enthusiasm. As a leader of a team, you can’t show a lot of negative emotion, so you have to stay as positive as possible, which can be hard in both of our leagues. Things are not always going to go your way but like me, he tries to stay positive all the time. He’s out there making plays, dancing and having fun. He deserves to have fun. They only lost one game, you know? It’s just really fun to watch and I’m very happy for those guys. It’s going to take one more win for them to get it, and I’m rooting for them. The Panthers are going to pull it off. I’m not giving a score or anything. I just want them to win. I don’t care if its 2-0, just get the win and bring that title home!
Tuesday, Jan. 19 - 12:21 p.m.
Looking back, man, what a fun day yesterday was. It was a really big game, and I was just in the zone, really. I was feeling really good from the start of the game, hit my first couple shots and from that point on, I knew I would be rolling but had no idea I’d end up with 52 points. The overtime definitely helped me and overall, it was just a really cool experience.
I was just taking the opportunities that were given to me, really. I had to make plays. We were struggling making shots and for a few guys, it wasn’t really their night, but I was pretty hot. I just wanted to stay aggressive and make the best plays possible depending on how the defense was guarding me. That’s what I did. I just made shots. I even made some tough ones. It was just one of those nights.
Nobody told me as the game was going on how close I was getting to 50. I knew I was playing well, but nobody said anything to me until I had 48 right before I went to the line. I was shooting those free throws and just hoping I wasn’t going to miss. I knew I was going to miss one or both of those free throws just because someone told me I had 48. I was like, “alright, just let me get to this 50.” I knew I never had 50 before, so I was just concentrating so hard to make sure to hit those free throws.
Just to verify Marvin’s (Williams) story, he did tell me I was going to get 50 back in the first quarter. He definitely told me that. I didn’t think he was crazy or anything when he first told me that, as much as I didn’t pay him any attention. He said to me after the game, “I told you.” I told him, “You definitely did, bro. You called it.” It happened and he did indeed call it.
Now, I did need the OTs to get to the 50, and someone mentioned that I missed game-winning shots at the end of regulation and the first OT, but let me tell you, I did not miss those shots cause I was working towards 50. I wish I would have ended the game earlier, but I made Charlotte history and we won, so I can’t complain.
Passing Glen Rice (for the Charlotte franchise high) is just crazy. For it to be me, I mean I know I’m a pretty good scorer but I’d have never thought I could get 52. That’s pretty cool. And it was even more crazy to be able and do it in front of the bossman (Hornets Owner Michael Jordan). He’s done that plenty of times, but for me to get my first one in front of him is pretty exciting. Neither him or any of the guys were really talking to me about it as it was happening though. MJ is real good about not saying too much unless he knows he has to. That’s why he is the best. He knows how it goes. That’s another reason it’s good to have him as our owner, because he’s played and been through it. He just let me play and was enjoying it. After the game, I didn’t get to see him. He’s got to get out of here pretty fast or everybody’s going to be on him. I was doing my postgame interview and had a bunch of other stuff going on, so I didn’t get to see him. We’ll see though, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a text or something today. We’ll see – hahaha.
The other thing I’m pretty proud of was getting nine rebounds and eight assists, too. I didn’t know about that until after the game, but I was close to that triple-double. I was just trying to make the plays that were possible in order to help us get the win. If I drew two defenders, I was finding my guys and they were making shots. Marv(in Williams) was bigtime. Cody (Zeller) was big and Nic (Batum) hit a huge, huge, huge three-pointer in regulation. I was trying to be unselfish and let everyone score the ball.
Thank gosh we got the win though. It would have been really painful to lose that game the way it would have happened. We made a handful of mistakes down the stretch and a few of those were on me, so that really, really, really would have sucked if we lost that game. We were up big, but they made a comeback and played us really tough. It was just a really good game to win. We needed it. We have to get back to ourselves, get back to the way we play together, brining intensity and playing some great defense. We need to find that energy on a consistant basis, so to pull out a double-overtime win was huge. It shows how resilient we are, shows how tough we can be and shows how we can stick with a game and win. I’m just glad all of our fans were able to be a part of it, because it was a great atmosphere. For all of the years that I’ve been here, I feed off the crowd each and every night, so they’re very important to me.
Oh, and I heard the fans chanting, “MVP.” I was at the free-throw line and wanted to crack a smile but stayed professional. I didn’t want to miss the free throws. That was awesome though. I know for sure I’m not the MVP, but I guess to the fans I am. That was pretty cool.
On another note, it’s good to see MKG out here working. He looks good, and I honestly can’t wait until he gets back. The things that he brings to this team can’t be duplicated. He’s a great player and we need him – bad. It gives us a lift just seeing him out here. We know what he brings to the table each and every night and know we’re going to get even better when he gets back. I’m anxious. I can’t wait.
Thursday, Dec. 23 - 10:23 a.m.
I’d just like to wish a very Merry Christmas to anyone out there reading this blog. Christmas is probably my favorite holiday. It’s always been, [even] growing up as a kid. It’s a great time to be with your family and a great time to give. It’s just a great holiday, and of course there are some great basketball games on as well. I think it’ll be a great day. I just hope everybody really does enjoy their Christmas with their family and just have a blessed day.
We’re at home over the holidays too, so it’s pretty cool when you actually get a chance to be home with your family. Some teams don't get the opportunity to be home with their families. Me and my guys are very fortunate to be here. I know me, Big Al and B-Rob (Brian Roberts) and our families all got together on Thanksgiving, but it’s just me and the [family] on Christmas. Well, some of my friends are coming down - my close friends. We’re just going to chill, that’s it. My mom’s going to cook and we’re just going to enjoy ourselves while we can. For me, it’s not about the presents on Christmas. I’ve got everything I want, man. I’m blessed. I’m able to play the game I love everyday, and I’ve got my family, who's going to be there with me. I’m very content with that. Merry Christmas to all!
Wednesday, Dec. 9 - 11:13 a.m.
I know some of our fans were worried before the Pistons game that I might not play after missing shootaround, but everyone gets a little sick here and there. That’s all it was. I wasn’t feeling well that morning but I knew I had enough strength to play. If I was feeling that bad, I wouldn’t have played, but I had the energy and strength. That and I just wanted to play. I hate to miss games. I want to be out there for my teammates trying to help those guys win games. I knew it would take a lot to keep me out. When I heard coach say I was doubtful at shootaround, I was kind of surprised. I knew I was going to play. It takes a lot to keep me out. I hate to miss games, so I had to be out there.
We’re dealing with some injuries right now, having lost MKG (Michael Kidd-Gilchrist) early in the season and now with Al (Jefferson) out. But this league is all about guys stepping up. If someone goes down, the next guy has to be ready – that’s how it’s always been. Our guys have been ready. P.J. (Hairston) got the starting role when MKG went out and defensively, he’s been great. He’s guarding one of the other team’s top players every night, which is a tough thing to do. You have to realize he’s only in his second year, too, so I think he’s doing a really good job. He’s still learning and getting better. Each and every day he’s working hard to improve his game. Cody is another guy who has just gotten so much better. He brings that energy and been a big boost for us as well. Everyone has a role on this team. We’re all role players, and we’re all just embracing our roles. The guys on this team are all very unselfish and just a great group of guys. We play for each other. That’s what we’re all about on both ends of the floor. Defensively, we’re constantly trying to get better and always be there to help each other. Offensively, we always try to make that extra pass to get the best shot possible. That speaks to our unselfishness.
We have great depth on this team and it’s making a huge difference. The guys behind the scenes – (General Manager) Rich Cho and (Assistant General Manager) Chad Buchanan – did a great job bringing in people who can really help, especially when guys go down. We’ve got a whole bunch of guys who can just come in and make plays. It’s great because when we’ve had guys go down, we haven’t had to worry about other guys coming in and not playing well. For the most part, all of the guys have come in when their number is called and given us an extra boost.
It’s been a really competitive season so far. I think the Eastern Conference has gotten a lot better. It’s been crazy to watch. Every night I’m looking at scores in the East and it seems like every team is doing well and keeping things close. All you have to do is take a look at the standings – we’re 1 ½ games out of first and one game ahead of 10th. I think everyone in the East has gotten better, and of course, every team in this league wants to win. For years people have been saying the East isn’t as good as the West, but it’s been pretty solid so far.
I’m having fun just like our fans and everyone inside the organization is having fun right now. It was a rough couple years for all of us that have been here, and this has us all believing. Since I came to this organization with the Bobcats, it hasn’t been like this. It feels good to be in all of these games and compete – actually really compete and give us the opportunity to win every night. That’s a great feeling and we all want to do whatever we can to keep it going!
Thursday, Nov. 26 - 10:41 a.m.
I want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy this special time with your family and never take times like this for granted. It’s a very special holiday, so I’m sending a very special Happy Thanksgiving to all those fans out there reading this blog!
It’s going to be a great Thanksgiving. It’s going to be my family, B-Rob’s (Brian Roberts’) family and Big Al’s (Jefferson) – we’re going to do a joint family Thanksgiving. That’s going to be interesting. I think we’re going to need a lot of food for the big fella, so it’s going to be cool. I’m looking forward to it. Al’s been doing a great job taking care of himself, so we’ll make sure there’s some healthy stuff there. It’s going to be great to spend time with my family and extended family cause these are the people I’m most thankful for.
On the court, it’s been great. We’ve been playing pretty well, due to how hard we’ve been playing. We work so hard in practice – watching film on days off, guys coming in to get their shots up, lifting and just putting in that work. It’s been paying off. It started in September for us and it’s been a really fun group. Guys have been committed and getting their work done. We all want to win and that’s helped make it fun.
Some of these games have been crazy lately, but we’re very resilient and a competitive group. You can see that when we get down – we try our best not to get rattled and just play the game. It’s never over until the clock hits zero, so we just try our best to stay aggressive. On any given night anyone can make plays with this group. The other night against Sacramento, I was fortunate to have a big game and then against Washington it was Nic (Batum) and J-Lamb (Jeremy Lamb) – those guys were huge and we were fortunate enough to pull out another win.
I also want to send special thanks out to all of our fans for their support. We want to protect our home court. It’s always tough to win on the road, so when you have an opportunity like this with a long homestand, you want to win as many games as possible at home and we’ve been playing well. Our fans have been nothing short of great, giving us great energy throughout the whole game, and we need that. It’s really important and I hope they understand how important it is. We need their energy and we definitely feel that. Thanks again and a very special Happy Thanksgiving to you all!
Monday, Nov. 16 - 2:27 p.m.
I know it’s been a while since my last blog entry, but hopefully all of our fans have seen that we’ve been working hard, we’re learning, we’re watching film and we’re getting better every day. Our effort has been really good I think. We’ve been playing really hard and I think us playing hard gives us a chance to win games. You know Nic (Batum) is playing really well right now and we have to keep him at that level. I’ve come along, and Big Al, he’s been playing really well. The guys coming off the bench, Jeremy Lamb and Lin both have been playing really well. It’s been a full team effort. I’ve always been a team first guy. Team success means everything to me, and with this group of guys that we have right now, this has been a lot of fun – a lot of fun. We know we have to be there for each other. It’s honestly been that way since I’ve been here. The roster has been a little different over the years. But now it’s a little different, and I love the way they’ve put this team together. The ball doesn’t have to come to me as the outlet every time. Different guys are bringing the ball up and we’re all finding success in our versatility.
It should be a really good year for us – especially with a guy like Nic added to the mix. He’s been playing really, really, really well. He’s a big part of what we want to do out there on the floor. We need him to be himself, be the guy that pretty much does everything. That’s what he’s been doing. Man, he’s Mr. Do-It-All. I mean he does everything – scoring, finding guys and rebounding. He’s playing really great games. He’s all over the place. It’s been really fun to watch him out there. He makes life a lot easier around here. Over the course of the last few days with everything that happened in France, we’ve tried to do whatever we can to make things easier for him, as well. We didn’t really talk about it much because it’s kind of a sensitive subject, but he knows that we’re all here for him and the team and the NBA as a whole is doing a great job bringing recognition to the situation before the games. I know it’s been tough on him and his family. We’re all aware of that and are all there for him. We love Nick. It’s bigger than basketball when it comes to situations like this. We comfort him and just leave him by himself when he wants to be.
I know that back in my last blog I mentioned that I put a lot on myself. I looked at our slow start and said I needed to come out with better energy; I needed to set the tone. I’ve been able to do that thanks to my energy, my faith and my enthusiasm – that matters for the team. I’m a leader. I think we go as I go. I’m not just talking about scoring; it’s just me being out there and pushing the pace. You know, just getting guys intense. I’m an intense guy on the floor. I need that to carry over to my team. I think it’s done that and I’m not really surprised and how quickly we flipped that switch after the first three games. Things can go from good to bad really fast and bad to good really fast. We struggled with that at first and then we came around and we got some pretty good wins. I think we can be a really good team; we got a lot of potential. It just takes time. We have got to put in the time and effort for all of us to get better as a team.
As for some other things that are going on off the court, what a tough game the other night for my New York Giants. First, it was a touchdown by Odell Beckham and it was an interception of (Tom) Brady near the end of the game. But you know how that goes. The Patriots are America’s team. They’re undefeated and people want them to stay that way. But we stuck with it though; it was a pretty good game. Everybody said we were going to get killed. But we stood our ground. That’s what we do. We don’t have the best football team. But we always stick with it. It just feels like we’re always going up against teams that nobody wants to play. It’s cool though. Football is something that can also keep the conversation going in the locker room. We’re around each other a lot so, yeah, we talk trash all the time. We talk trash allllll the time. You know we got Seahawks fans, we got Cowboys fans, we got Patriots fans, Redskins fans, it’s all over the place. That’s the beauty about having friends and teammates from different places. You know everybody is a fan. We go at it but it definitely does bring us closer. I’m always on my phone looking at the scores. We talk a lot of trash to each other, so it’s definitely a bonding thing. But I’ll tell you what to; there is no question that we all support the Carolina Panthers too. I mean were here in Carolina so it has to be one of our teams. I’ve been here the past five years and they’ve been playing really well – probably the best I’ve ever seen them. They grind it out there having fun. They’re extremely confident. It’s just been fun to watch. And of course my boy Cam (Newton) is out there. Our careers have kind of mirrored each other here and he’s a natural born leader. You can really see his development from when he was as rookie until now. There was a lot of talk that he wasn’t really that good early on. But now, everybody knows Cam is the man. He works harder at his craft and you can tell. It’s definitely paying off. Now he’s getting talk about about the MVP, so that’s pretty cool. It’s been impressive what they’ve done.
For me though, I’ll tell you what, I can’t wait to wrap up this game in New York on Wednesday and get back home for a couple of weeks. I’m tired of traveling already. It’s been rough. We were on the road for three games and we were gone for a week. It’s been crazy. But I don’t mind this trip to New York though cause it’s home. I’m looking forward to tomorrow. It’s against the hometown team. It’s pretty fun. The Garden is really exciting and super bright – one of the best arenas in the world. I know from experience and grew up playing there. A lot of legends have played there, so it definitely is one of the best arenas in the world. We just have to get it done and play hard if we want to get it done. We just want to play well – on the road as well as home. The road is always a tough place to win but we just have to grind it out and stick it out. I think we have the right team and right group of guys for that.
Monday, Nov. 2 - 3:37 p.m.
Today Matt and Eryn from hornets.com brought me the Lil’ Kemba doll to check out that you can get here in The Hornets Fan Shop. I guess they’re going to start encouraging fans on social media to take pictures of it in different places using #lilkemba when you post. That’s funny. I’ve seen it and it’s pretty cool. I love to have little toys or dolls of myself made. That’s pretty cool. If and when I see little kids around town or on any of the social media sites with these, it’ll be awesome and something I never thought would happen. I’ve been a bobblehead, a gnome and now a stuffed doll – it’s kind of surreal. But I appreciate it and thank God for the fact that he’s given me the opportunity to do something where I can have things be made of me. It’s cool man. I enjoy it. It’s all in good fun and I’m glad people like it. I cant wait to see where Lil’ Kemba shows up! I’ll be checking #lilkemba so make sure to use it.
As for on the court right now, this is definitely not the way that we wanted to start the season, but I’m feeling pretty good actually. We’ve played Miami and Atlanta twice – two really good teams that are supposed to be near the top of the East at the end of the season. I think we made too many mistakes in those games, but the good news is they are all fixable. We had a really good practice today and made some adjustments, so I think we’ll be ready tomorrow (for Chicago). We have a lot of new guys, and I never want to use that as an excuse, but it’s the truth. We have a lot of guys who aren’t used to the things that we do, and it takes time, man. It takes time. Everybody saw us play in preseason and saw that we won a lot of games, but preseason is very different than the real thing. People don’t play their regular minutes, so at the start of the season it’s still a little different as you try to figure out your playing groups. Our record stinks right now, but I still think that we have a pretty good team and we’re all confident in each other.
We’ve got off to some slow starts in every game so far, and we know that. It’s something that has to change. It’s me. It’s me, man, honestly. I need to do a better job of setting the tempo. I’m waiting too long. I can’t wait until that second time I check into the game to bring the energy. I have to be explosive and intense from the start. I’m not just talking about offense. It’s defensively, too. Just having that energy. I have to pressure the basketball and talk to my teammates. I have to be able to get them ready to play basketball games. I definitely blame myself for these first three games because in preseason I was doing it. I was starting off with great intensity and my teammates were following. I’m the leader, and for me there’s no excuse why we’re starting the way we are.
We’ve been relentless though, and have been tough. When things go wrong, we don’t back down. We come together. That’s how it has to be. When things start getting tough, we bare down and get it going. We have made some pretty close games out of bad situations, but we don’t want to have to keep digging ourselves out of those holes. We want to play consistently the whole game, not have many lapses and go from there. We’re still confident though. It’s still early. We play 82 games – there’s so much basketball left. Of course we don’t want to dig ourselves in too big of a hole, but we have time. Teams lose three games in a row over the course of a season. We could have gone 3-0 and lost the next three. There are so many games left and we’re still confident, we still believe in each other and we all know how good we can potentially be. We’re just going to keep working hard and the wins will come.
Saturday, Oct. 24 - 4:22 p.m.
It's cool to be honored tonight as one of the heroes at the My Hero Gala. I don't really see myself as a hero. I just know that's one of the reasons that God put me on this earth for. He blessed me with a talent, and my talent has given me the opportunity to help others in whatever way possible - through basketball, through camps and clinics and through meet and greets. The Hornets do a great job of giving us the chance to get out in the community. It's just a tremendous honor to be recognized with this award.
For me, everything I'm able to do out in the community is a cool experience. Growing up, I never thought I'd have the opportunity to put smiles like these on little kids' faces - or anyone's face, they can be young or old. When people get a chance to see us, they're excited about the opportunity to speak to me and my teammates and we can tell they're having the time of their lives, even if its only for an hour or so, and sometimes even less. It only takes a few minutes out of our day to make somebody happy, and that's a blessing and a great feeling on my behalf.
I try not only to do things here in Charlotte but to try to give back to my hometown in New York when I can. I think that's important. You should never forget where you come from. I've heard stories of people not wanting to go back to their hometown once they make it and not connecting back to their community. I don't want to be that guy - the one who makes it big and forgets about everybody else. I love the fact that I can go back and help out the people from where I come from because I know how hard it was for me, and I want everybody to be able to have the same opportunities that I did.
After the Gala, it won't be long until opening night. It feels good. I'm glad it's over. It's been a long preseason and I'm just ready to get to the real thing. We've been playing really well, and hopefully we can continue that into the regular season. It's been fun, because not only have we been winning, but we've been getting better each and every day. That's been the best thing about this preseason, watching us get better every day. On our trip to China we could have had some bad days due to the time change and everything, but we stayed focused and pushed through.
Starting the season in Miami is going to be a challenge, but we're up for it. We've got the chance to be a really good team, but we just have to play together and keep getting better. That's all we can do - go out there and give 110 percent and hopefully things will go our way.
Tuesday, Oct. 20 - 1:43 p.m.
What’s up Hornets fans? After our trip to China, Matt (Rochinski) from hornets.com told me that I was getting a lot of love on social media for my blog and that the fans were really showing an interest in what I had to say. So let me first say a big thank you to all our fans. It’s great to know you like reading what I have to say, so I’m going to continue this blog throughout the season. It’s pretty cool that you all like the fact that I can give you a little bit of inside information as to what’s going on in our everyday lives. Fans don’t really get a chance to see some of the things that go into how we prepare and stuff like that, so for me to be able to speak on it and give them the chance to picture it is pretty cool. I’m going to do my best for you all.
After hurting my heel last night, I’m feeling pretty good. I was a little bit sore today, which is kind of expected, but for the most part, I’m cool. I got treatment today, sat out of practice and should be pretty good tomorrow. We’ll just have to wait and see how things are tomorrow and make a decision if I’ll play or not (in Detroit on Wednesday). But you all know me. I want to play if I can, but I want to be smart about it too. All I know is that yesterday, what I felt at first was pretty scary. I was pretty nervous and that’s why I reacted the way I did on the court. But when I got up and was able to start walking, I got to the back and realized that I was okay. I felt a lot better then, obviously, but it was pretty scary at first.
When you get hurt in a preseason game like that, you can always just sit the rest of the game out if you want to because nobody wants to see you get even more injured. I could have sat out, but I wanted to get in rhythm with the season so close. I want to be able to keep on playing if I can play well. I’m still trying to get to know my teammates and those guys are trying to get to know how to play with me. It was more about me and the team getting better. More that than anything. That’s why I really wanted to continue to play. Once I knew that I was fine and able to get back out there, that’s what I did.
These last couple games are very important. We just want to keep on playing well and keep on getting better. We’ve been having some great practices and some great film sessions. Everyone has been doing their part and getting better. These next couple of games, we want to continue to do what we’ve been doing and improve at the same time. There are a lot of minor mistakes we’ve been making during these games, but its stuff that is easy to fix. We want to fix those minor mistakes because it won’t be long until these games are going to count. I can’t wait! Preseason gets a little bit old sometimes – even when we are 6-0. It doesn’t count yet. It’s not the real thing. We want to get to the real thing and continue to play well.