Players’ Blog Presented by Blue Cross NC: Celebrating Africa Day and the Importance of Giving Back
Different Hornets will continue to check in with hornets.com this season for their 2020-21 Players Blog presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina. Keep checking back to see what they have to say throughout the NBA regular season. As we all support our Hornets this season, please practice the 3Ws to control the spread of COVID-19. Remember, Wear, Wash, Wait.
By Bismack Biyombo
Hey Hornets fan! Bismack Biyombo here and Happy Africa Day to everybody! As somebody from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it’s very important to acknowledge this day. Over the course of the years and since I got here, we as Africans, we’ve always had to explain to the world where we come from. Sometimes, that’s a very difficult conversation. You can educate yourself on others’ culture, but sometimes, people don’t take the time to educate themselves on yours. Everywhere I’ve been, it’s been like that.
Over the course of time, people have evolved and brought light to what Africa is about. The NBA has made a lot of investment in Africa and brought to light a lot of stories from athletes that came from Africa. The league has also helped build a platform to allow African players, successful businessmen and entrepreneurs to speak about it. That’s one of the things I’m most appreciate of. From when I first got to the United States until now, the conversation around Africa has changed and evolved. It’s fun to see Africa have its own league – the Basketball Africa League – which just started and will continue to grow.
Eventually I’m going to have kids and they’re going to grow up in this country that I’m living in. Then we’re going to have to explain where their parents or dad came from. The world is evolving, which is good. It’s not just about Africa, but other ethnicities as well. It’s fun to see and be part of it as we’re learning from each other.
Giving back has been very rewarding because, to me, the idea and the vision to do something, like create the Bismack Biyombo Foundation and help people in Africa, was always there. At first it was a dream and you have to start small. Then you grow it and now there’s more people that want to hear my story and be inspired. You’re seeing more kids that come over here, graduate and they have ideas that they’ll take back home. I think that where I find the joy is actually seeing people buy into the story, want to listen to the story, want to know more, see these kids, come home – they want to see Africa. I think that’s really, really exciting.
At the end of the day, if somebody told me years ago that when you start doing charity work, this is how it was going to turn out, I shouldn’t have believed them. I shouldn’t have believed myself, but God somehow found a way to bless so many people along the way with great ideas. I don’t know how many people are reached, but if the goal is to reach just one, two, five or ten people, it’s a success. Maybe they go and tell that story to someone else and on and on and on. I’m so appreciative of the platform I’ve been giving to tell people about the impact we’ve been able to have on other people’s lives.
The Bismack Biyombo Foundation exists to propel the belief that the opportunities we receive aren’t intended for our benefit alone; they are meant to be multiplied through the lives of others. Activating the potential of human lives through athletics, education, and health, the Foundation creates opportunity for game changers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For more information, visit biyombofoundation.org.
A Different NBA Season and Having a Next-Play Mentality
By Caleb Martin
Hey Hornets fan! Caleb Martin checking in for our final Players’ Blog of the year. This was just a fun and definitely a different season. It was tough and with the crunched schedule and a lot of back-to-backs and guys with fatigue playing a lot of minutes, it's a given guys are going to be tired and sometimes the performances aren’t going to be what we wanted to be. Although we didn’t finish how we would have liked, we want to carry on the team chemistry and just that joy to play with each other, which I don't think will be a problem next year.
This was my first full season getting to play here in the NBA and obviously, I'm in that position where my role is just going to fluctuate with minutes and opportunities. I think it was a good learning experience for me when I went in and what the opportunities looked like when I got them. It just gave me an overall great feel of the game, especially for someone in my position. Having a full season like that and getting to the point that we did as a team, I think there's a lot of things that we can pinpoint throughout the season for next year that we can focus on to allow us to get over those hurdles.
I think one area I grew the most this season was on the mental side. I put a lot of pressure on myself for my second year to, you know, knock down every single shot that I took. I learned the best way to play, honestly, is free and confident – that next-play mentality is the best way I can put it. I just got to work on getting better at that and not putting so much pressure into every little shot or every little thing that I do. Making mistakes is just part of the game. So just learning that and being able to implement that for next year will help me out a lot.
Our Next-Man-Up Mentality and My Leadership Approach
By Devonte’ Graham
How’s it going Hornets fans? Devonte’ Graham here checking in for this week’s Players’ Blog as we get ready for the final week of the regular season. It’s just been a different year for everybody. The amount of games played back-to-back, every other day, it’s definitely been different on your body, recovery, things like that for everybody. At the same time, it’s been fun. You enjoy it. The way the league put the season together on the fly with everything going on in the world, it’s definitely been crazy, but this group has been fun and special to be around.
I think our next-man-up mentality has been there throughout the season. Everybody’s been prepared when their name has been called from 1-16, or however many players we’ve got. Like when Gordon gets hurt, guys like Jalen, Caleb and Cody stepped up. PJ’s been out and then Vernon steps up. Just being ready when your name gets called is a huge thing with our team this year.
Between last season and this season, I feel like I’ve been leading the same way. If it’s young guys, if it’s guys that have been here, you just try to be who you are, which is what I do. I don’t try to be anybody else or be any other way. I lead the way I lead. I’m doing the same things basically. Keeping my same mentality as far as leadership, saying what I say when I see stuff, staying in guys’ ears about doing little things, being aggressive, all types of stuff.
Looking back, my favorite moment of the season would definitely have to be Miles’ huge dunk against Atlanta over Clint Capela. I think that’s the craziest live dunk I’ve seen in a basketball game since I’ve been playing.
With it being such a crazy year, mental health has been important lately, regardless if you play sports, are an athlete or whatever the case may be. For me personally, my family is a big key to that for me. Just being able to talk to them about anything – my problems, what’s going on. You need people in your corner that you can vent to because a lot of people just hold stuff like that in. Our lives are so consumed with basketball because that’s all we know.
Even before games, just doing small stuff like playing random games on my phone helps relax my mind, even though I’m getting locked in. At the end of the day, it’s about finding those little moments to get away sometimes, be with your family – when mine comes into town, it definitely helps. Movie nights with my girl, just little things like that help keep me sane and grounded.
Learning Throughout My Rookie Season and Reflecting on My First NBA Basket
By Grant Riller
Hey Hornets fans! Grant Riller checking in for this week’s Players’ Blog. What I’ve noticed most from my rookie season is just how much of a constant grind the league is. It’s so different compared to any other level. Just that daily grind and being able to lock in and stay focused throughout the entire year is probably the biggest takeaway I’ve had from this year so far. I think it’s definitely helped me grow.
Thankfully, I got to go down to the G League Bubble in Orlando a couple months ago. I think that was super beneficial not only to get a chance to play, but also show what I’m capable of in an NBA setting. I think it was good just to get some reps in. There was no telling if there was going to be a G League season this year or not, so I was thankful they were able to put it together. I got to play about 12 games and showcase a lot of different things and overall, it was a good experience.
A couple weeks ago, I scored my first NBA basket in Brooklyn and it felt really good. It’s hard to put into words, but it was definitely a burden lifted off my shoulders. It felt super good and I am super blessed. It was definitely a humbling experience. I’m glad I was able to get in there and knock one down. It’s been crazy watching from the sidelines and seeing all these great players that I’ve watched on TV for all these years. Seeing how they play up close and how they carry themselves is definitely a humbling experience and something I’ve paid close attention to throughout this year.
Even from the older guys on our team, I’ve taken a lot of stuff from them as well. We have a few older guys – Terry, Gordon, Biz – that take a lot of the leadership role. I’ve learned a lot from them and also from people that play my position. Seeing Devonte’ all year I think has been big – even LaMelo and seeing how he also plays the game. I think it’s been good being around all different kinds of guards whether it’s pass-first guards, scoring guards. I’ve been able to sit back and really learn this year. That’s been big.
This season has been a lot different for other guys that have been in the league because they’ve experienced seasons that were not like this. For myself, this is kind of all I know, this crazy season. It was easier for me to adapt because it’s all I know. This is what I prepared for all of pre-draft. Myself personally, I’m a boring, homebody kind of guy, so it’s easy for me to leave the arena and just chill or stay to myself. It’s been easy to lay low in my free time.
A Memorable Rookie Season and Getting Support from Back in Nova Scotia
By Nate Darling
Hey Hornets fans! This is Nate Darling and it is crazy to think we’re now in the final month of the regular season. I think this is probably a unique rookie experience compared to other seasons, obviously with COVID and stuff. I think it’s been a year of growth for me. I’m growing into my body, my strength, my shot, how I can affect the game at the NBA level through practicing with NBA players every single day. It’s all a learning and growing experience for me right now.
I got to go down to the G League Bubble in Orlando a few months ago and although I wish I played a little better personally and as a team, I think it was good for me to get out there, get some shots at a higher pace, get a feel for the game. I think it was a good overall experience.
Back in March, I scored my first NBA basket against the Houston Rockets and it was a weight off my shoulders to say the least. I was putting pressure on every shot I took, but once I hit this one, the next couple ones I took that game and in Boston the next time out were much more comfortable, more in rhythm. I was just getting my feet wet.
It was definitely a pretty cool feeling hearing from everybody back home. I’ve always had support from Nova Scotia and people really believed in me after seeing my journey as a kid. Nova Scotia is a pretty tight-knit community – a lot of people know each other. It’s kind of a small place. Just feeling that support and love from everyone, it’s all pretty genuine. It’s just a good feeling.
Another crazy welcome-to-the-NBA moment happened last month against the Lakers. After I sprained my ankle, I was in the corner facing the opposing bench and LeBron James said something to me. At the time, I was just thinking I was talking to someone, but after the game in the locker room, I was like ‘Wow, that’s LeBron.’ It was a pretty cool moment because it’s a guy I’ve been watching my whole life.
Since we’ve got a lot of time on our hands away from basketball, I’ve got a nice little yoga mat that I meditate and stretch on. That’s probably the main thing I do for my mental health. Just taking some time for myself and my body, let it stretch and heal and stuff. It also gives my mind some time to think about things as well.
Reflecting on My Rookie Season and First Career NBA Start
By Vernon Carey Jr.
What’s going on Hornets fan? Vernon Carey Jr. here with this week’s Players’ Blog. Crazy to think there’s only one month left in my NBA rookie season. For me, it’s been a lot to learn, especially with the short amount of time we had after the draft. We had no Summer League, barely any training camp, things like that. Being able to learn throughout the season has been really helpful for me.
Also playing for the Greensboro Swarm in the G League Bubble in Orlando a couple months ago really helped me out. I was able to get live reps. When the NBA season started, we didn’t have that much time to practice or scrimmage. So, to get those live reps against other people who aren’t your teammates definitely helped a lot with my game. Having other rookie guys on the roster like Nick Richards, Nate Darling and Grant Riller going through a similar process has definitely helped make it an easier transition, too.
Last week, I got to make my first career NBA start in Brooklyn and I would definitely say I was a little nervous. I let things come to me and just played my game really. Seeing my teammates on the bench, they were happy for me. Being able to see that from them shows that they care about me as a person. When I first got on the court and played, I was pretty focused on myself. After watching that game on film and seeing guys like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, it definitely brought a new realization that I’m in the NBA and going up against players like that now.
Lastly, mental health has been really important lately, especially this season with everything going on. For the last month or so, I’ve been talking to a psychologist to get things off my mind and to help me stay mentally strong. Even if you only need to talk to somebody every once and awhile, I feel like it’s a good thing to have just to chat with how things are going mentally.
Coming Together and Staying Sharp Mentally
By Cody Martin
Hey Hornets fan! Cody Martin coming to you from New York City before tonight’s game against the Nets. Right now, we’re obviously dealing with a lot of injuries, but stuff like this happens during the season. It’s never good timing to see someone go out. Guys have to take care of their bodies and make sure they come back healthier than before. Lately, it’s been about us coming together and everybody stepping up to do their part so we’re still in a position to win. We’re more than capable of doing that – it’s just little adjustments we have to work through. We just have to stay focused and work on the things we have to work on.
For us with all these injuries and having some COVID incidents earlier this year, this season’s been about just never really knowing what’s going to happen. You have to stay sharp and stay mentally ready. This season has been wild, so it’s all about staying focused and staying on top of your game as much as you can. With regards to our team, it’s been next person up. We’re all just going to have to play with confidence, continue to get better and find ways to improve our games individually and as a team. We trust each other and we have to keep doing that. That’s what we’re going to need from everybody in order to be successful.
For me personally, my favorite moments of the season have been the game-winners that we’ve had. Terry’s against Golden State, Malik’s in Sacramento or Gordon’s against Orlando, it’s always fun to be a part of those. Early on during the season, you had to find your own juice because there weren’t any fans. It just became about us bringing our own energy. Obviously, game-winners are always exciting, but those had a different feel earlier this season.
This season showed me and everyone that your routine is going to be messed up sometimes as opposed to last year. You have to find different ways to navigate throughout the day and the season, especially with all the COVID testing and travel that we do, people being sick, hurt, whatever it may be. It’s been one of the most interesting seasons I have ever had in my career. Away from the court, I just relax and watch movies and play video games. Other than that, we’ve got more time to make sure we know what’s going on with basketball assignments and stuff like that. It’s been tough for everybody this season with what’s going on – not only on the court, not only with our season, but everything outside of basketball, too. It’s been a weird, up-and-down year, so we just have to make sure we find ways to push through in a positive way.
Winning East Player of the Week and Packing for A Long Road Trip
By Terry Rozier
Hey Hornets fan! Terry Rozier here for this week’s Players’ Blog as we start another long road trip. Yesterday while we were getting on the plane, I was just relaxing and eating my food when our Director of Health Care & Sports Performance Joe Sharpe whispered in my ear, ‘Congratulations… you’re the Eastern Conference Player of the Week.’ I thought he was playing at first, but he wasn’t! It just feels great. You get the love from all over, from your teammates, family and stuff like that. It’s a nice accomplishment, but that was yesterday. It’s a new day, a new week and I’m glad to get it. Now it’s time to build on it and get some more wins.
Lately, this team has just had an awareness about itself knowing that we lost one of our better players in LaMelo recently. Once one of your teammates goes down, you have to be ready to have his back and then build off that. We’re a team that’s been through a lot of adversity this year and last year, so we know we can bounce back. We’ve been playing great basketball, so we’re just trying to keep it going.
For any long road trip, I have to bring a gaming system – that’s mandatory! I also have to bring a blowing fan to help me sleep, but other than that, everything else takes care of itself. We get to hoop and then we get to chill. That’s how I like it. And in terms of where I rank myself amongst gamers on the team, it depends. Gordon plays on a PC, so that’s cheating to me. It’s not real gaming! I’m on the console and controller, so I’ll rank myself No. 1 in that area. In terms of real gaming, G’s got it.
This year has certainly been different, so having good mental health is huge. It’s so important to stay mentally in it. It’s not easy dealing with all these COVID tests and stuff like that, but like I’ve been saying, we’re professionals. We have the easiest jobs in the world. There’s not too much to complain about. Just do our testing and go out there and be ready to battle.
Rookie Year, the G League Bubble and Learning from Vets
By Nick Richards
Hey everyone! Nick Richards here making my first Players’ Blog appearance of the season. So far, things have been going well my rookie year. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and been getting in some games here and there. It’s been a great experience so far, my first year. I think what I remember most was during the preseason, when I put on the NBA jersey and played on an NBA floor against NBA players for the first time. That moment was like a dream come true for me.
I recently had the opportunity to play for the Greensboro Swarm down in the Orlando bubble last month. The G League was pretty interesting. The first couple days, I was just trying to get my feet wet, trying to get a rhythm, a flow and play more basketball again. I think I played pretty decent for the month I was down there. We didn’t win as many games as we wanted to, but the overall process of playing in the G League was a pretty great experience.
This year, I’ve learned a lot from Biz and Cody Zeller. Just watching them play, I can tell that experience plays a big part in the NBA. Those guys might not be as athletic as some of the younger guys, but they’re experienced, understand the game and that’s what puts your play at a whole different level.
We just started a long five-game trip out West and things are different this year out on the road with the Health and Safety Protocols. There’s nothing you can really do about it though – it’s life. It’s an obstacle and you have to overcome it. From what I’m hearing from everyone else, this is not really a typical NBA year, but we just have to find a way to work with it. I read sometimes on the road, but I also like watching movies. When I’m on my room, you’ll see me on my laptop watching movies.
It’s important to have a distraction outside of basketball. For me, it’s my family. They always take my mind off the game. Watching movies and hanging out with my teammates off the court when we can also help a lot.
The G League Bubble, Facing My Brother in Minnesota and How I Clear My Mind
By Jalen McDaniels
Hey Hornets fans! It’s Jalen McDaniels checking in from our long road trip, which is coming to an end. It’s been all about staying mentally locked in, getting our rest and then on the court, controlling our energy and our effort – just giving a hundred percent of that every game. In Sacramento, we found a way to lock in and make plays. We felt it coming – we knew we were supposed to win. It was really exciting. Malik hit a tough shot, an and-1. We did what we were supposed to do. We went there and got a dub no matter how close it was or anything like that.
I started the season with Charlotte before heading down to the G League bubble in Orlando last month. It’s a bubble, so you’re already like, ‘Man we have to be in the hotel? We can’t leave?’ You get over that quick, though. Just me going down there for a few weeks and getting a lot of practices in, it sharpened up my defensive and offensive game and knowing what I need to do. When I came back up to the Hornets, the transition was easy. I had a lot of reps that got my confidence up. Right now, I’m just playing the game and feeling good.
Playing with the Swarm, it wasn’t exactly the same team as last year. The way I felt about it was the way I felt about playing at San Diego State. It was just my second year, but I was treated and acted like a leader. I talked to guys, even though I’m usually not a big talker. I lead more by example, but I had to step out of my comfort zone and help the young guys with what to do, where to be and encourage them.
Tomorrow’s game in Minnesota will be interesting because my younger brother, Jaden, is a rookie with the Timberwolves. I’m really just happy to see my bro – I haven’t seen him in a couple months. I know we’re going to compete on the court. I’m not even really worried about that. I already know how he and I play. We’re just going to have fun out there. It’s not a brother-versus-brother thing. We’re just out there hoopin’. He’s my brother, but we’ll talk afterwards. I’m just treating it like a regular game.
As we all know, it’s been a crazy season. You have to have great mental health in order to have a positive attitude and mindset. It’s hard because when you have a bad game, you want to get on yourself and be negative, but you can’t change it. We have so many more games, so you have to think positive about what you can to better, study film. Something that I do that helps is we’re allowed an hour on the road to walk around outside. I go out, get some fresh air, clear my mind and not even think about basketball. Being on walks really helps me.
Coming Back from Injury and My Off-the-Court Distractions
By Cody Zeller
Hey there Hornets fans – it’s Cody Zeller here! After sitting out the first month of the season with a hand injury, I feel good now. The first few games, it took a little while to get back and find a rhythm. Nothing really replicates playing in an NBA game, other than being able to run and do the bike while I was out. The first few games took a bit to get some rhythm back, but now I’m back in the flow of things. My hand feels fine and doesn’t bother me at all. I was lucky to have a quick rehab. I was on the earlier side of the four-to-six-week window they gave me. I’m glad to be back and that the team is playing well.
Lately, we’ve been winning a lot of games in the fourth quarter. Right now, we have a few different options who can make plays for us. It’s good to have the ball in Gordon’s hands. He’s a veteran guy who has made a lot of big plays. He had the game-winner in Orlando. Devonte’, Terry have made shots for us the last couple of different years. It’s great to have guys who can all step up at different times.
Before last night’s loss, we had beaten three really strong opponents in a row in Indiana, Milwaukee and Miami. It shows that we can be competitive in the East. We can’t let off the gas now. It was three good wins, but we can’t give it back now. It doesn’t get any easier for us and especially with a West Coast trip in a week or two. It gives us confidence, but we know no game or stretch is easy in the NBA.
Health and Safety Protocols have made this season really different and we can’t do as much on the road right now. I’m pretty much a homebody during the season anyways – I don’t leave the hotel room much. I watch a lot of shows. I was a big fan of Ted Lasso and I’m watching The Queen’s Gambit right now. A lot of times, I’m just resting up and taking a nice, long nap when I get to the hotel on the road. I used to walk out for carryout and get a little bit of exercise, but this year, we haven’t been able to do that. Everybody’s trying to make it work, but I feel like I’m just filling up the time by watching shows and movies.
I’m proud to be a part of the NBA, which has made a push for the importance of mental health. Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan and some other guys have made it okay and popular to talk about it the last few years. I think the timing applies right now with COVID-19 because we are so isolated. There’s a lot of pressure in what we do and we put pressure on ourselves to perform well. It’s tough because I’m really close with my family and I have friends that come into town to visit. A lot of them can’t visit me because of COVID and can’t come to the games. Friends and family are usually my release away from the game. My parents have only been able to come once this season and they obviously weren’t able to come to the game or anything. I spend a lot of time on FaceTime, Zoom and everything else. You try to make it work, but it’s tough on everyone for sure.
How I Keep My Mind Sharp and Mental Health
By Bismack Biyombo
Hey Hornets fan – Bismack Biyombo here! We’re about a month into the season and I think the team has been doing great overall. We have a few new players and we’re all adjusting to the new style of play. Guys are learning quickly from each other, we’re playing better and better every game and I think that’s exciting. That’s going to put us in a position to compete each and every night in order for us to win ball games, which is the ultimate goal.
Before last night, we hadn’t played since last Saturday, so this past week was like an All-Star Break. We worked on end-of-game situations and making those little adjustments. I know we have a tough stretch coming up where we’re going to be playing like six games in nine days. We need to correct those little mistakes now because we’re not going to have a lot of time to practice moving forward. I think we can use this time effectively for down the road, where it’ll be useful.
With so much going on this season, I’m doing a good job staying busy away from the court. I’m working for the Players’ Union and the process has been quite interesting. Every day you get different reports from the league. I think one of the most important things throughout the process is being able to help players and educate them about the importance of being safe. On the road, the goal is to keep my mind busy reading, making business calls and working for the union so I have some sort of balance.
I love to read a lot of different books and I try to mix them up. Sometimes I like to read a lot about positivity or laws of the universe and now I’m jumping into geographic history. I just started reading the book about President Obama called The Audacity of Hope, which talks about his process and how he got into politics. It’s just different ways to keep my mind stimulated on the road. I don’t play video games, so it’s different for me. There are guys that can travel with the video games and I cannot. Overall, it’s been pretty good so far. I can’t really complain, but for the sake of us finishing the season and everybody being safe, it’s very important that we all sacrifice something.
Mental health is very important, especially this season. Meditating works well because in times like these, you have to be able to control your mind. I think your mind becomes everything. How you treat it and how you take care of it is very important. Feeding it the right information too because at the end of the day, life isn’t just about basketball. Life has a lot of things that come with it. I tell a lot of the young guys that they have to make sure to add things to their lives. Just the way you evolve with life, I think that’s where I’m trying to help the young guys and that includes myself.
The times we are facing are really different. These are difficult times right now and we all have to sacrifice something because at the end, we all want to still give the world and the fans something to watch on TV. I think right now, there are people that just want to watch a game on TV and that’s our responsibility. If we get to the point where we can’t continue the season, not only will stress fall back on us, but other people as well. I remember going into quarantine, I was with my family. We did not go to the bubble, but just to be able to sit at home and talk about sports and basketball was very fulfilling. It is our job to try our best not to be able to take that away from a lot of people. You just hope and pray for the best and take care of yourself.
Getting Back to Basketball, A New Role and Playing with LaMelo
By Miles Bridges
What’s up Hornets fans? This is Miles Bridges and I’m excited for my first Players’ Blog of the season and to finally be back on the court! It feels great. We went a long period of time without playing basketball, so I’m just blessed to be able to play basketball again. It’s something that I love and I have a great bond with my teammates. It’s been fun.
Coming into the season, Coach Borrego told me I was going to play a lot more power forward. I wanted to get in the weight room a bit more just so I could be able to guard fours and fives and still be able to guard threes and guards. Right now, a lot of it is about staying consistent and helping my team win as much as possible.
Right now, we’re still figuring each other out. I’m still figuring out LaMelo, Gordon and everybody else. LaMelo came in with a great mindset, Gordon is a top guy that has come in with an unselfish, winning mindset. Everybody is just here to win. Once we just figure each other out, we’ll be a good team.
I knew Gordon coming in meant he was most likely going to start at small forward. I’m just happy to learn from him and handle my role to the best of my ability. Coming off the bench, I’m able to see how the game is going and what I need to do to impact it. LaMelo does his work more on the offensive end and I’ve been impacting a lot more on the defensive end. It’s been fun coming off the bench especially with somebody like LaMelo, who passes the ball as much as he does.
It was tough losing Cody Zeller in the season opener for sure, and then we lost those games against Cleveland and Oklahoma City that we thought we should have won. That’s how the NBA is though. You have another game in a day or the next couple days. We caught the Nets on a back-to-back and everybody in the world thought we were going to lose that game. That’s the fun of the NBA. You have the chance to compete almost every day and I’m very excited about that.
Devonte’ Graham, Matt Carroll Reflect on Cornucopia’s 10th Anniversary
By Sam Perley
Right before Thanksgiving every year, the Charlotte Hornets organization hosts its annual Cornucopia event at Spectrum Center, providing over 1,000 families with holiday meals courtesy of Food Lion, Coca-Cola and Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina. Unfortunately, the pandemic has forced 2020 Cornucopia to be a modified, entirely drive-thru operation and the importance of this tradition is probably as great as it’s ever been this time around.
Devonte’ Graham and former player, now the team’s Director of Player Programs Matt Carroll spoke about their personal experiences participating in Cornucopia, which is now celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.
It’s really unique to still be hosting Cornucopia this year with everything going on and to not just cancel it. Finding a way to help these families have a good Thanksgiving, it’s definitely a big thumbs up for the Hornets and the organization. And it’s super important to stay safe with the pandemic and everything going on. The number one concern is health and safety first. The way that they’re doing it makes it as safe as possible for everybody.
Right now, people are going through a lot with the pandemic and everything that comes with it, like losing jobs or not being able to see family. A little bit of help here and there from the Hornets means a lot and the community has always been a top priority for us. Just to show out during the pandemic is awesome.
I first participated in Cornucopia back in 2018, so this would have been my third one. I just remember everybody smiling going through the line and doing the bags with them. From the kids, to the moms, dads, grandparents, it’s good energy and positive vibes. Everybody’s just excited and happy to be able to have that meal with their loved ones. I remember the smiles on everybody’s faces. It’s super meaningful to be doing this for 10 years for the organization. For the people that participate in it, it probably means the world to their families.
As a player, it’s super important to stay involved in the community. Everybody keeps saying you have a voice even though you don’t realize it. You have people follow you, watch you, listen to you. I feel like with the voting thing this year, I was big on that because my generation, a lot of us were kind of lazy or might not think voting’s important or don’t think they have a voice. We wanted people to know that they do and it is important. We have to get up and start getting out and paying attention to these little things.”
This year more than ever, I’m thankful for health, thankful for change, thankful for my family. Obviously, thankful for the Hornets organization and being a part of that. And lastly, my favorite Thanksgiving dish has to be those candied yams! Hope everybody has a safe, restful holiday.
Cornucopia is one of our favorite events as an organization of the year. I did it as a player, as a former player and have been part of it for almost every single year, I believe. I think it’s one of my favorite events because you get a chance to get in contact with so many different people from the community. You get a chance to really see their smiles, they get to interact with the entire team, coaching staff, front office – it’s the whole organization. It’s just a great example of how much the Hornets want to give back, especially with making it happen regardless of what’s going on amidst these challenging times.
Everybody that works for the Hornets knows how big of a heart our owner Michael Jordan has. I think the state of North Carolina and the city of Charlotte especially, he’s poured not just his time and effort, but his resources and investments into this community to make it better. When I first started working with the organization as a community ambassador, that was partly because Michael said we wanted to take a deeper dive into the community and told me that as a former player, that I would be a great fit. I’ve always admired his belief in me when I first started giving back to this organization and community. It’s something he’s stuck by from the start and every year, it seems like he gives more and more.
I think what I’ve really enjoyed seeing over time is when we had the first one in 2010, we really didn’t know what to expect. We did it as a team and when we finished, the players thought it was awesome. We had a chance to put so many smiles on people’s faces and not only give back to them, but interact with people in the community. We were able to brighten their days and make a difference. As time has gone by each year, players look forward to it. You’re excited for it no matter what practice was like that morning or how tired you were. You knew it was an event that was going to be fun and make a big impact in the community.
We have a lot of young guys on the team invested in the community and that starts at the top with Michael. Having the opportunity to work with the players on a lot of their off-court initiatives gives me a chance to really stress the same message about getting into the community and giving back. Our players have a strong passion to want to give back to this city and to this community that’s been good to them. I think they all realize how fortunate they are to be NBA players and have a platform to give back. I just love to see our Hornets players take advantage of that platform in a positive way.
As for my favorite Thanksgiving dish? I’m going to go with stuffing – that’s got to be it. I think a lot of people down here say it’s dressing or different names, but I’m a big stuffing guy and a big leftovers guy, too. I think Friday and Saturday is when I really get into the Thanksgiving feast. That being said, I hope everybody also has as a safe and restful Thanksgiving celebration.
Watching The Last Dance and Being a Full-Time Dad
By Nic Batum
Hey Hornets fans! Hope everybody is staying safe right now. For my family, quarantine life has been pretty much the same as everybody else’s. We stay at home, try to stay safe, stay connected to the guys, teammates, coaching staff, family and friends. It’s been a crazy time. It’s not easy for anyone, but we’re trying to get through this together.
I’ve been trying to stay in touch with my friends and family in France every day. I talk to them a lot. We also have family in Spain, which has had a pretty tough time recently. We try to stay in contact, but it’s not easy. It was my son Ayden’s birthday yesterday and we usually have friends and family here for that. We had nobody here yesterday. Some stuff like that is kind of weird, but we have to get through it. Seven weeks is a long time already.
Because we couldn’t do a conventional birthday party yesterday, we did a lot of Zoom and FaceTime calls with family. He was supposed to have friends over from school, but we couldn’t do it. So, we had a cake and presents and tried to make it a little virtual party for others to enjoy. We did a pretty good job, but it wasn’t normal or like he was used to.
Like everyone else, I’ve been watching The Last Dance on ESPN. It’s pretty cool because we’ve all seen the basketball side of those Bulls teams, but right now, seeing the inside stuff, the stuff we haven’t seen before is really neat. I have a podcast that I’m doing in France and we’ve talked about it each week so far. One guy said he was pretty disappointed because there’s not a lot of basketball in it, but that’s the point of the series! We’ve seen the basketball stuff. We know the highlights of Michael Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, all those guys. What I want to see is what happened with that team inside the locker room. That’s what I love about it.
It’s pretty cool watching The Last Dance with Ayden. My son usually goes to bed between 8:30 and 9 PM, but the last two Sundays, he’s been up watching with us and staying up late. I’ve been talking to him and he’s trying to play basketball and do the same stuff that he sees with MJ and Scottie. I grew up a big fan of Scottie Pippen. It’s been pretty cool to learn the stories about him from that time.
Funny enough, Ayden hasn’t put it together that the main guy from The Last Dance is the same guy from Space Jam, which he loves. He watches Space Jam almost three times a week. So, he loves MJ in that part, but he doesn’t really know the MJ basketball side yet. He doesn’t know about his time with the Bulls, just in Space Jam!
All and all, we’ve done a good job staying busy. I used to do my podcast once a month, but now I’m doing it twice a week. We talk about The Last Dance every week and then discuss a different basketball-related topic as well. Right now, we’re talking about the best team of all time. We did a two-and-a-half hour show on that. I’ve been working with Tony Parker on the club we own in France and doing meetings almost every day for the men’s and women’s teams. Been working out and being a dad right now. My wife is pretty happy because I’m home pretty much every day and being a dad and husband right now full time. It’s been pretty cool, for sure.
Living with My Siblings, Working Together and Trying New Things
By Willy Hernangómez
Hello Buzz City!! Hope everybody is doing well and staying safe out there. I’ll admit, things have been pretty hard not being able to play basketball or play games. I have my sister Andrea and my brother Juancho here with me and we’re all living together in the same building for the first time in six or seven years. It’s something we’re enjoying. We wake up early in the morning, have breakfast together and work out together, too. My sister is doing online classes. We generally have lunch together with my family over a Zoom call. I talk with them and see how my parents are doing back in Spain. I just try and support them because the situation is very bad in Spain, too.
I only see my brother and sister a couple of times a year and we only really spend time together in the summer unless we have National Team stuff or whatever. Having them here is something special. We’re using this time to be together, do things together. For my parents, us being together here in Charlotte is something good and makes them feel like we’re all safe. We haven’t killed each other yet, but sometimes it’s close! It’s been pretty fun. We have a great relationship and it’s helped pass the time while we stay safe.
I try to talk to my friends and family in Spain at least once a day. Back in Spain, it’s getting better day by day. They’ve already been in quarantine for almost two months without going outside their homes. The police and army are patrolling the streets trying to take care of everything. The situation was very serious there, but hopefully getting better every single day. The government is saying maybe in a couple weeks the kids will be allowed to go outside with their parents to go to the supermarket and back or whatever. Hopefully, it doesn’t get nearly as bad here. That’s why I want to tell everybody to take this seriously. If you watch the news over in Europe, a lot of people are sick. You see it here already in New York and the big cities. It’s something if we work together, we can beat it.
My siblings and I spend the time playing Fortnite together, video games, reading. I’m staying busy by continuing my studies. I’m learning about Management of Sports Centers. I was doing that step by step during the season, but now I have an opportunity to really move a step forward. I try to spend at least one, maybe two hours every day working on it. Studying, doing online exams through the website from Spain. I’m also making Tik Toks with my sister and my brother, which I know you guys have been seeing! We try to cook sometimes. My sister cooks really, really well. We’ve tried to do a Spanish omelet and stuff like that.
Being Grateful, Getting Creative During the Time Off
By Joe Chealey
It’s crazy to think it’s been four weeks since our last game. It was a bit weird because we were coming off a high going into the locker room in Miami. It was a big win, a big performance and then we heard the news. That kind of took away from the win a little bit in my opinion and dampened the mood. Guys were concerned and stuff like that before finding out what was going on. Looking back in hindsight, it’s crazy how everything unfolded.
I actually tore my Achilles’ tendon back in college, so I’ve known what it’s like to have basketball taken away at a moment’s notice. Obviously, this situation is much different, but I already had a sense of appreciation. Nothing in life is guaranteed. With basketball, that’s why you treat each game like it’s your last because you never really know when something can be taken away from you. This pandemic has reemphasized how quickly things can change and made me appreciate basketball even more than I did before.
I was on my second 10-day contract when the season got suspended and with player movement also paused, it’s uncharted territory for sure. While everything was unfolding the first couple of weeks, there were a lot of talks going on about how things were going to go because nothing like this has ever happened – in my situation specifically. Ultimately, I’m still part of the team and I’ve approached it that way. Coaches, the staff and everybody else has treated me as such. They’re still checking on me and I’m still working out and communicating.
I don’t know how things will play out with the season, but I am grateful for any opportunity to be with this organization. Obviously, not under these circumstances we’re seeing, but it’s a blessing to be communicating with those guys on a daily basis and to continue to be a part of the team.
I’ve been working out for sure. I’ve been trying to do something daily, but that only takes up a small portion of the day. The rest of it is catching up on shows, reading some books, other interests. It takes you back to being a kid. You have to be creative and find a way to stay active and engaged. Been playing video games, too. Just trying to make the time go by. I’ve been playing a lot of 2K and been watching that crazy new show on Netflix called Tiger King, which is entertaining for sure.
Getting Better, Helping Others and Having Perspective
By Bismack Biyombo
It’s been three weeks since our last game and at first, I thought we were going to be back quicker. We were just coming off a win in Miami and people were saying you have to be quarantined for 14 days and then we’re going to get back to what we love. From there as we all gathered more information, took some time and heard from the medical experts, we took a step back and looked at the big picture. Instead of 14 days, this is going to take a bit longer. Then you have to start preparing for it mentally.
As one of the VP’s of the Players’ Association, I think there’s an increased responsibility with what we’re currently facing. We’re probably spending more time on phone calls then we have in the past. Catching up with people, discussing what could be good for the league – we’re all kind of focusing to see how we can work together and have a healthy environment so we can play again. We have to look at things from a business side and at a personal level. How can I make things better and how can I better myself and help others?
We’re also looking at what’s going on back home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The virus hasn’t hit us badly yet, but we’re working to see how the government is going to respond. We’re not well-equipped medically as it is. The last information I got was a little over a week ago before they started shutting things down. We’ve been having conversations and going back and forth reaching out to people. In a bit, I might have more information about how my foundation is able to help.
Right now, I try to go to bed at my regular time and get up early in the morning. Usually, I get up at about 7:30 AM, but now I’m pushing that to sometimes 8 AM, sometimes 9 AM. I get up, do my workout, read and then start sending some emails out. Then, I’ll make some phone calls, have lunch, do more calls, spend some time with my family and watch TV. I love watching the shows about cartels. Once it hits like 5 or 6 PM, I try and do some more reading. Every now and then during the week, I try and go for a swim. Thankfully, I have a pool where I can go and enjoy the weather.
Everything has been quite interesting lately because you don’t usually have this much time away from basketball. The only other time I spent this much time at home was in 2016 after my one season with Toronto. We played in the Eastern Conference Finals and I think I played around 112 total games, counting preseason and postseason. I played every game and my body was just hurting. I’d wake up, eat, read and then go back to sleep over and over again! I did that for about a week.
My family is here and able to be around to share conversations, stories and memories with. For me, I’m still enjoying things. What we’re going through right now isn’t usual, but at the same time, you’re either going to let it bring you down or you’re going to get the best out of it. I’m enjoying the process of getting better every day, staying in shape, staying healthy and making sure we’re taking care of our families. That’s the most important thing. At the end of the day, it’s nice to play basketball, but it’s also nice to be healthy and live a long life.
Staying Safe, Keeping Busy and My Rookie NBA Season
By Jalen McDaniels
Hope everyone is staying safe out there – it’s been a crazy two weeks! Before the season got suspended, I felt like as a team, we were starting to make a little bit of a climb. Overall, we were just getting better together. After that comeback win in Miami, everybody was disappointed that we weren’t going to be playing and didn’t know how long we weren’t going to be playing for either. I feel like everybody’s really excited to get the season going again, whenever that time comes.
Right now, there isn’t any basketball and it makes you think like, “Wow, it could be gone at any second and this is an example of it.” It feels like your dream is on hold right now. Everybody wants to play and it definitely gives me a new-found appreciation for what we’re able to do as basketball players.
These last few weeks, I’ve really just been staying at home doing in-home workouts. I got a few weights brought in and some other equipment at my house. Other than that, I’m really just chilling. Catching up on shows, sleep, not doing too much. I’m watching All American right now, which is the show I’ve been watching the most I’d say.
I’ve got a lot of friends around the league, so I talk to them on Xbox on the daily. Also, hitting up my Hornets teammates as well. Everybody’s feeling the same way, but yeah, that’s kind of how we’ve been communicating. Just playing Xbox together and keeping in touch for sure.
I talk to my brother, Jaden, every day. He just had his freshman season at the University of Washington cut short as well. We’re doing a lot of FaceTime and I’m going to try and get out there soon whenever this current situation blows over, hopefully.
Looking back at my first NBA season, I wanted to show that I can play in the NBA and stick in the league with what I can bring to a team. I feel like me showing what I can do every game, every practice and that I can be consistent helped me establish a role. That gives me more leeway with the coaches and now, I can do more things to show off my game as time goes on. I feel like I’m doing a good job of doing what I’m doing and doing the things I do best.
Finding My Rhythm, Bench Play and Kansas Basketball!
By Devonte Graham
After sitting out one game in Indiana a couple weeks ago, I feel like I’m back to my old self. It’s a long season. You’re going to have some of those times where you just need to refresh and stuff like that. I think it was good for me and I’ve come back and been playing well.
Terry has also got it going lately! Together, we’re the engine of the team, so when we come out and play well, it trickles down to our teammates. Coach always says we can take the team as far as we want to go. We’re just trying to come out, be aggressive, do what we do and it’s been working.
Over our last seven games, six of them have pretty much come down to the wire. We love playing in games like that. We feel really confident. We draw up plays in the huddle and things like that, then come out and execute them. Lately, Coach has been telling us we’ve been one of the top teams in the league in executing in late-game situations or after timeouts. We definitely love being in those moments and trying to come out with those wins.
Our bench play lately has been huge. I tell our guys like Caleb, Cody and Jalen they just have to be aggressive and they’ve been doing it. I feel like once they got comfortable and figured out like, ‘Okay, I can do this. I can score, I can defend,’ they’ve just been playing really well. They always play with energy and just come in and do their job no matter what they’re asked to do. They don’t try and do too much. You know what you’re going to get from those young guys off the bench and we love it.
The NCAA Tournament is coming up and you know I got to say nobody’s going to beat Kansas! You never know though because the tournament is always crazy. I’m excited and definitely pulling for my guys and we’ll see what happens. I don’t have any superstitions, but I definitely get a lot more nervous watching then I did when I was in college playing for some strange reason. I love watching the games and I’m right there cheering them on like I’m sitting at the game as a fan.
Making the Most of My Opportunity and Being the Ultimate Teammate
By Joe Chealey
I just signed another 10-day contract with the Hornets! I’m extremely grateful to the organization, coaches and everybody involved. I’m just trying to stay ready when my number is called. It’s a tremendous opportunity and I’m glad to be a part of it.
When I heard about the first 10-day contract a couple weeks ago, we were about to practice in Greensboro. It was probably an hour before and I had just finished getting shots up. Cam Twiss, our General Manager in Greensboro, handed me a phone and it was my agent trying to get a hold of me. He told me I got the 10-day deal. It was surreal. You get caught up in the day-to-day grind and focusing on what you’ve got to do, but I took a step back and realized I’ve got a chance to be around guys at the highest level of basketball. It’s a blessing and I’m trying to soak up every moment of it.
There were some guys around the league that reached to me, especially my family. They had a chance to come up to one of the home games last week, which was really cool. It’s always been love. You can’t get to this spot by yourself. It’s a collection of people that have helped you along the way. I’m trying not to make it about me. It’s really about everyone else.
Having been in the organization since the start of last season, they try to keep things consistent from up top in Charlotte down to Greensboro. I’ve spent a lot of time with the coaches whether it be at Summer League or training camp both times. I’m pretty familiar with the system, the guys, personnel, all that kind of stuff. I’m trying to make it as seamless a transition as possible.
It’s dope playing with a lot of my former Greensboro teammates right now. There was a moment in Indiana last week where Cody, Caleb, Jalen and I all had a chance to be on the court together. It was fun. We weren’t winning, but just trying to play hard and keep things in perspective. It’s been a journey for those guys and myself. It’s a testament to their hard work and the organization for giving us the opportunity.
It’s an interesting dynamic now playing with a lot of the rookie guys who started the season in Greensboro. I guess technically I’ve been with the organization a little bit longer. We help each other out. I know how things kind of work at the NBA and in the league, the lifestyle. Obviously, they know a little bit more about the NBA game because they have more experience. It’s a good relationship.
Even though I’m not playing a lot, I still have to contribute. I try to be the ultimate team guy, the ultimate teammate. I try to add energy, bring life and have an impact in whatever role or facet that is whether it’s cheering on the bench or talking to a guy at a timeout. I’m just trying to help out any way I can.
Knocking Down 3-Pointers and My Welcome to the NBA Moment
By Jalen McDaniels
After spending most of the first half of the season in Greensboro, I’ve been with the Hornets for the past few weeks. I feel like the G League has prepared me for this time. When I go into the game, I know what I have to do – play defense, play with a high motor, hit opens shots, things I’ve been doing. There’s really no difference between the G League and NBA in terms of what I’m asked to do. You just have to lock in more on the defensive side and there’s definitely more going on in the NBA game.
When I look back to NBA Summer League in July, I was just a kid coming into this process, but now I feel like I’ve matured. I know what to do on the court. I know what to work on. I go to the gym by myself. I’m lifting and just getting more mature about being a professional.
I’ve been really working on my three-point shooting this season and I hit a few right before the All-Star Break in Detroit and Minnesota, which felt really good. I work on that all the time, so when I get open shots, they’re supposed to go in. When they don’t, I get mad about it! When I get those opportunities in the game, I’m going to take them and make them. If I don’t, I’m still going to keep shooting.
The group we’re playing with right now is definitely fun. It’s a young group of guys just out there competing and having fun on the court. That’s what we try and do. Just have fun and compete at the highest level. I feel like with those two things, if we do them, we can be pretty good in the future and even right now.
I’ve had my welcome-to-the-NBA moment recently and it was facing Brooklyn Nets center DeAndre Jordan. I got on him on a post-up and he’s bigger than I thought he was. He’s everything you see on TV. It’s crazy! That was one moment, but nothing else so far really that’s happened. I haven’t gotten dunked on or blocked yet! I’m waiting for it though.
For the rest of the season, I just want to show that I can be an established player in this league. I want to showcase the abilities I have and show the coaches that I’m the type of player we need on the court at all times. That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to show I can play a lot of minutes and that I belong out there.
First NBA Start, All-Star Break and Playing with Cody
By Caleb Martin
Hello Hornets fans! First blog of the season and I’m excited about playing more recently. I feel good, I feel confident just knowing the coaches and our team is believing in me to jump in and start like I did last week in Minnesota. It just shows to me that they believe I can make an impact. I’ve just been trying to use what I’ve been doing in Greensboro and impact the team here at the NBA level.
I was really excited and anxious when Coach Borrego told me I was going to start for the first time ever last Wednesday. I was grateful that he believes in me to take that spot when Terry was hurt. I did what I could and just brought a lot of energy. I also did a bunch of the little things to help us win, which we ended up doing!
We recently lost a couple of veterans in Marvin and MKG. I got to know those guys while I was here and got really close with them. They helped my brother and I a lot and made the transition coming in as easy as possible. I hit them up and told them how grateful I was for how welcoming and helpful they were to Cody and I as rookies. For the young guys, this is our team, our core and we’re moving with what we’ve got right now. I’m just looking forward to doing what I can and helping out the team any way possible. I think it’ll be fun. It’s definitely been fun the last two games.
My brother, Cody, has been sidelined with a concussion recently, but he’s finally back at practice. I was talking to him the other day about how glad I was that the protocol was going away. He’s starting to get on the court and move around and shoot. It’s always fun playing with my brother and it’ll be fun when he gets back.
We went down to Florida for the All-Star Break, but still watched our guys in Chicago – we’re proud of them! They represented us well. Miles won the Rising Stars Challenge MVP, Devonte’ was in the 3-Point Contest and PJ was there as a rookie. It’s pretty cool to see and makes you want to work that much harder to hopefully one time play in a setting like that. I think it’s pretty cool how they represented our organization.
That’s a Wrap from NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago!!!
By Devonte’ Graham
What’s going on Hornets fans??!?! Devonte’ checking in after wrapping up my first NBA All-Star Weekend in Chicago. It was really exciting and I was glad to be there with my teammates Miles and PJ. We put in a lot of hard work to get here and just soaked it all in. As a second-round draft pick, I’ve always had a little chip on my shoulder. Going against the guys who were drafted before you and the teams that overlooked you, it just puts that fire in you and makes you work harder. I’ve got guys around me who love to work, too. That makes it a lot easier.
We won the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday night and Miles got MVP! I feel like we all played well. The atmosphere was great and we had a little dunk show at the end. I give the experience a 10-out-of-10. You have to give some credit to our second unit. We came in, played out hearts out and came back to get the victory!
I got to play against my former Kansas teammate Svi Mykhailiuk in the Rising Stars Challenge, too. Svi now plays for the Detroit Pistons, although there wasn’t any smack talk or anything beforehand. We got to do a few media events together on Thursday, enjoyed the game, enjoyed each other. I did my best to iso on him during the game whenever he got on me.
Lastly, I finished things off with the 3-Point Contest on Saturday night. I was definitely nervous. My first shot was an airball. That first rack – whew, but it was fun. It was a good experience and I enjoyed it. I started out slow, real slow, but once I got going, I was able to hit a couple and shake the nerves. I liked the new format with the really deep threes. Guys shoot that all the time now in games, so that was a good thing to put in. Of course, I would definitely do it again.
I just enjoyed everything this weekend. Taking pictures, seeing all the guys, seeing former NBA players. The whole experience has been a blessing. Me, Miles and PJ had a lot of people supporting us, hitting us up on social media, stuff like that. It was definitely huge love. Now though, I’m going to take my break and just chill, relax and go home to Charlotte!
Being a Leader and Showcasing the Younger Core
By Malik Monk
What’s going on Hornets fan?!?! I can’t believe it’s already February – the season is moving quick. I just turned 22 and to celebrate, I’ve been playing pretty well lately. More and more, I’ve been thinking about what can help the team when Devonte’ or Terry aren’t scoring. Miles can’t do everything, Cody can’t do everything, so somebody else has to step up. I’m coming off the bench and we need somebody to bring that energy. We need somebody with a lot of juice and I’ve really just put it in my mind that it’s going to be me.
Even though I’ve been playing well, we still haven’t been winning as much as a team. I’m in my third season and it’s all about just sticking with it, not giving up and not hanging my head down. I can’t let everyone else – especially the rookies – hang their heads, too. Marvin and the rest of the vets also do a great job of keeping everybody positive even when things are tough. I really don’t have to do too much in that area, but I’m still doing as much as I can. I just have to keep taking responsibility.
Our last game in Houston, we played nothing but young guys. It seems like we’re always in the game until the fourth quarter, even with some really good teams. That shows a lot just with us being young and having talent. After we get that together and get a couple more years under our belts, get out there and learn more about playing the game, I think we’ll be alright.
Last week, Devonte’, PJ and Miles were all named to the Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Weekend. I would go to watch, but I’m sick of seeing them (just kidding!). I’ll watch those guys on TV for sure and follow them on Twitter and Instagram throughout the weekend. All of them going just shows how big a foundation we’re building. Three guys on one team at Rising Stars is something special.
We’ll have a little bit of time off with the All-Star Break, which will be a great opportunity to regroup. We have a little less than 30 games remaining once we get back. Our goal is to have a winning record during that stretch. I’m going to go relax my mind and come back super-focused, so we try and win more than we lose the couple months.
Finding a Way to Win and Remembering Kobe Bryant
By PJ Washington
Hey, there Hornets fan! We are back from Paris and finally picked up a big home win last night against the Knicks. It had been awhile since we won, but we’ve been fighting. Every game you have to come out with a certain mindset to win. No matter how many games you lose, you still have another game. You just come out and try and be aggressive each and every game and know in the back of your mind that if we lose this one, we still have another one the next day. Just come out and be aggressive no matter what.
We only shot like 38% against New York. If you win a game like that, it’s pretty hard to do. I think the little things are something we can work on every day and do every game. I feel like if we do those little things like rebounding and making free throws, it’ll be that much easier for us to win because we’re not going to always make shots.
The last few days have been pretty emotional following Kobe Bryant’s passing. He meant a lot to me growing up. He was definitely my favorite player – we both have the same birthday. I had his jersey, I played with him on the video games all the time, had his shoes and everything. As a kid growing up and looking up to him, he was definitely a big influence. He definitely helped me get here. Just to have that tragedy happen, it’s just sad. I didn’t believe it at first. I didn’t want to believe it. Prayers out to everybody that was affected. At the end of the day, we all know that he would want us to go out there and play for him.
We had a meeting after the accident and everybody just talked about how different Kobe was. Obviously, I never got a chance to play against him, but if I did, I think I would just be out there in awe seeing how good he was in person.
The All-Star Break is coming up in a few weeks and they’ll be announcing the Rising Stars rosters soon. It’d mean a lot to get chosen because it’d show how much work I’ve put in and how dedicated I am. Regardless though, I feel like I have to keep pushing. There’s a lot more I want to do in my career here in Charlotte. Just have to keep pushing.
Learning About France From Nic Batum and Family Time in Paris
By Marvin Williams
Bonjour from Paris everybody! We got here Tuesday night and the flight was really good. Mostly everyone slept and I was kind of in and out myself. What was impressive was Miles slept literally the entire time! He was asleep before takeoff and asleep when we landed. It was unbelievable – eight-and-a-half hours straight. It was a good flight though.
My family is also out here, which is great. They didn’t travel with us. They got here a couple of days before, but they are here with us. I’m looking forward to kind of running around with them for a little bit. My family and I love to travel. That’s the one thing that we do. We try to go to as many places as we can. Definitely when the opportunity presented itself for us to come here, they jumped on it. They’ve been here for a few more days than we have and they’re having fun.
It’s been good trying to follow Nic around as much as possible. I’ve just been trying to learn some things about Paris and about France. Overall, it’s been great so far. He’s showed me a couple of great restaurants that he likes. Hopefully if there’s some free time, I can enjoy them. There’s also a place nearby where I can take my kids and let them run around. It’s somewhere where he takes his son every summer. He has given me some good advice so far.
Obviously, I want to get out into Paris a little bit more and try the food, try the wine and see some things, but I’ll definitely have more thoughts about everything when we leave here on Saturday. It was cool seeing the Eiffel Tower up close. I actually saw it Tuesday night from the plane. I was looking out the window and saw this huge light circling around and there it was. Seeing it in person and taking some pictures was really cool.
We can’t forget though that we are here to play a game tomorrow. After that long flight, it felt good to get moving again the morning after we landed. I got up and lifted. It felt pretty good to sweat a little bit, too. We didn’t really do anything two days ago except sit on the plane. To be back in the gym, I know guys are happy about it and we can’t wait to get out there and play Milwaukee.
Staying Ready, Paris Game and Seeing Juancho in Denver!
By Willy Hernangómez
Hola Hornets fan! Time for my first blog of the season! We’re closing out a four-game road trip tonight and last Friday, I got a big opportunity to play a lot in Utah and then again in Portland. It’s been a really hard season for me, because I haven’t been playing as much as I’d like. I always try to be positive, work hard every day and support my teammates because they are all my family. I just try to be happy and I know at some point, I will have my opportunity. I just have to be ready. It was fun to be out there with my teammates, trying to play the right kind of basketball. I really enjoy playing with them. Hopefully we get a win soon, but it was amazing to finally get back out there and compete.
I just love basketball. It’s the way I live and basketball to me is amazing. It’s been a big part of my family since I was young. I know I want to play games and even when I don’t, I know the next day there’s going to be a practice. I use every day as an opportunity to work, to get better, to learn from my coaches and teammates. Sometimes, you get frustrated because you lose or don’t get much playing time. At the end of the day, you’ve got another opportunity. I just try to have that mindset and treat each and every day as an opportunity. I enjoy the process.
Next week, we’re playing the Milwaukee Bucks in the first-ever regular season NBA game in Paris. It’s going to be an amazing experience for all of us being in France. Obviously for European people, seeing an NBA game that close is going to also be an amazing experience. I think for all my teammates that have never been to Europe, it’s going to be an opportunity to learn and see a different culture and country. I’ll use Nico and he’ll show us the city and give us the best restaurants ton eat at.
Obviously, this is going to be a huge game for Nico and he’s incredibly excited to be going to his home country. All his friends and family are going to be there. His whole country is going to support him. I’m really excited for the game and to see him play. It’s going to be an amazing environment, almost like a soccer environment with everybody yelling and supporting us. It’s going to be a great game for the fans and they’re going to really enjoy it. The last time I was in Paris was the European Championships in 2015 and we beat France in the semifinals, so I hope the fans don’t remember that!
And with playing the Nuggets tonight, I get another chance to see my brother, Juancho, who plays for the team. To have a brother in the NBA who came into the league the same year that you did is pretty incredibly. We’re really supportive of each other. We talk every day and really lean on each other. I think more or less being in the same situation where we’re both having to wait for our opportunity to play more, we try and give each other great advice. We both just have to be ready because you never know. Hopefully, he gets the opportunity to play today and we can play against each other. We always look forward to these games when the schedule comes out and its always special to play against him. Our family is all going to be watching the game from Spain, even though it’s going to be 3 AM at home. They’re going to be awake to watch, but once that ball is in the air, there’s no more family, nothing. It’s business. We’ll try to win the game against Denver and go home with a victory.
3-Point Shooting, Getting Stronger and San Diego State Hoops!
By Jalen McDaniels
Time for my first blog Hornets fans! My rookie season is almost halfway done and it’s been going pretty well. I’m developing every day, getting stronger, developing my game on the court. The year has been going by so fast. It’s already January and we’re halfway through the season! My goal is just to improve every day and every game. It’s been great being a part of the Hornets organization. I feel like the coaches have been pushing me, wanting me to be a part of the team and be a better player.
When I got drafted last summer, I knew I needed a lot of time to develop my game. It’s about being more comfortable, more confident. By playing in the G League, I feel like I’ve built up that confidence in order to play in the NBA game. My three-point shooting ability has improved the most this season. I’m now at 41.5% after shooting 29.8% in college. I’m been much more consistent shooting this year and have also shown I can play multiple positions. I can have the ball in my hands, make plays off the ball, offensive rebounding – just playing with a motor.
For the rest of the season, I want to keep working on getting stronger. I’d like to spend as much time in the weight room as I can. I feel like I want to put on even more weight because that’ll help me become even more effective. Coming into the NBA, my size was one thing I definitely needed to improve on. Guys in the NBA are big, so you have to get big to match them. Being strong and playing hard – I feel like that’s what it all comes down to. Overall, I just want to become a better all-around player.
I have a younger brother, Jaden, who is currently a freshman playing at the University of Washington. We’re really close and talk almost every day. He might be coming to the NBA soon, too, but I just tell him to take things one game at a time. Go out there, play and have fun. Don’t worry about the NBA. Things will take care of themselves. All you have to do is play and play hard. He hits me up asking how I’m doing and stuff like that.
On the Hornets team, we’ve got guys from colleges like North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State and Louisville. But right now, my school San Diego State is 15-0, ranked #7 in the country and I love it! They’re going to keep going. They play the right way, they play great defense and team ball. They’re going to get to that #1 spot, hopefully! I’m not going to do any trash-talking just yet. I’ll just wait until the NCAA Tournament.
Rookie Season, Learning from the Vets and My New Year’s Resolution
By Cody Martin
Happy New Year, Hornets fan! It’s crazy we’re already 36 games into my rookie season. It’s been going by really, really fast. I think the biggest thing is just trying to find some good routines on and off the court to allow me to play at the highest level that I can. We’re not even halfway through our schedule and I’ve already played my college season worth of games!
The biggest thing I’ve learned since entering the NBA is how to develop a next-play mentality. For myself, a lot of times I can linger on certain plays, certain games and think about how we lost or what I should have done. Obviously, that’s what film sessions are for. I think the biggest thing for me is next play, next game mentality. I’m learning a lot of that from the vets because they’ve been doing this for a long time. They’ve had a lot of games under their belt, so they’re trying to teach me. You can’t really focus on things that might hurt or sting in the moment. Just learn from it, keep pushing and get better from those mistakes.
I’ve been playing a lot more right now than when I started this season and it’s been awesome. I’m just trying to take advantage of the minutes given and trying to earn them every single time I’m out there on the floor and every time I step into practice. Basically, just do my job to the best of my ability, go out there, play hard and do whatever the team needs me to do to help us win.
Since I came back from the G League, my three-point shooting has gotten a bit better, although I still can’t quite keep pace with Marvin. He’s killing me after practice. I’m not going to lie – Marv’s one of the best shooters I’ve been around. He doesn’t miss on any catch-and-shoots. I’m trying to learn a lot from him and get a lot of reps in. Being around Marv and those guys at the end of practice, I like to talk to them and learn about their mindsets when it comes to shooting. It’s really helped me and also obviously going down to the G League to play. I played with a lot of confidence in Greensboro and had fun while I was there.
My brother, Caleb, is currently with the Greensboro Swarm right now, but we talk almost every day. Sometimes, it’s about basketball, brother stuff, little bit of everything. We just talk about everything on and off the court. We haven’t really seen each other too much lately. I see what’s going on with him about his games and vice versa. He checks in on us and watches the games and I do the same thing. It’s just about taking care of business when you’re out on the court and taking advantage of the time we’re given.
And with today being New Year’s Day, my New Year’s resolution is pretty simple. It’s business as usual for me in 2020. Obviously, it’s just about improving every single year, not only as a player, but as a person. Just trying to be better in all aspects of the game and life.
Perfecting the Eurostep, Having Fun and Being Home for the Holidays
By Bismack Biyombo
Hello there, Hornets fan!! This is my first blog of the season, and lately, we’ve been playing pretty well! It has just been comfortable overall. My teammates have done an amazing job in finding me and being able to rely on me defensively as well. I think overall, we have this chemistry where there’s no ego and everybody just wants to play to accomplish the same goal, which is winning a ball game. That’s really, really exciting to see as we continue to grow. People had so low of expectations for the team and now, those expectations have turned around quick. For us, we always believed. I feel comfortable that Coach Borrego has put me in the right spot in order to be successful, so I’m very thankful for that.
When I first got traded back to Charlotte last summer, I came back every night to work on everything with Assistant Coach Nate Mitchell. We did things that I didn’t even think I would need or use. When he was teaching me the Eurostep, I was like, ‘Man, when am I ever going to use this?’ But yet, it just happened a year later in a game and my manager texted me saying, ‘Oh man you did the Eurostep! I remember you working on that with Nate.’ I spoke to Nate about it and you just never know when you’re going to use some things. At the same time, from the moment I came back here, we’ve just believed in working and the process. I’m thanking God for every moment and along the way, God has always been by my side. I’m very blessed to be in this position.
I used to be the youngest guy on the team and now I’m one of the veterans. It’s fun for me because now you get to understand the things you wished somebody would have led you with. Now that you’re in a position to be part of the leadership, then you find better ways to communicate with the young guys while having fun at the same time. The game is fun itself. If you ask PJ, I joke with him before games, outside of games. Same with Devonte’ and everybody else. When it comes to the game, we’re all just out there having fun, grinding every possession and it’s exciting.
Outside of basketball, Christmas is coming up and I think it’s going to be refreshing to be able to spend time with family. We get a chance to talk, laugh and enjoy a good meal. I’m mostly excited about seeing everybody. When I first got drafted by Charlotte, I missed about five Christmas holidays because my family wasn’t around. But now they’re around and we can celebrate. It’s going to be the third or fourth year we’re all going to be together – my mom, my dad, my little sister. We’re all excited to be together and I’m really looking forward to it. For me when I was growing up, I left my family when I was pretty young to go play basketball. When you make it to this level, you have to rely on family so much to be able to disconnect, laugh, talk about things you can’t talk to others about. I’m really looking forward to it and it’s a blessing to be able to share moments like that with family. I just have to thank God for it.
Being the Veteran, Giving Back and Christmas Traditions
By Cody Zeller
Hey there Hornets fans!!! This is my first blog of the season and we’re now about 25 games into the schedule. I’m one of the older guys now and I’ve been trying to help the young guys along. They’ve played well, especially guys like Devonte’ and Miles has also been playing well lately. We’ve had our growing pains, obviously. We’ve lost a few close games, gotten blown out a few times and had a few times where we’ve let late leads slip away. That’s just a part of being young. It’s tough to play well in this league every night. It’s a long season even for veterans like me, but I think the young guys have handled it pretty well so far.
As one of the more experienced guys on the team, it’s been really fun to see the young players do well. It’s cool to see them develop. We didn’t really know what to expect from them going into the season, but you obviously see how hard they work in the summer and you hope that they have a good year. Devonte’ and PJ, especially have had a great year to start with and hopefully, they can keep it up.
Off the court right now, it is the holiday season and it’s super important to me to give back to the community, whether it’s with the Hanes Sock Drive or visiting the Novant Children’s Hospital. The longer I’m here in Charlotte, the more it feels like home to me, so I want to give back and impact however I can. I take the time any time an opportunity comes forward and it’s something I can help with.
We’ve got four days off over Christmas this year and my family is going to be visiting me this year! My brother, Tyler, is in Chapel Hill and my other brother, Luke, and my parents are back in Indiana. They’re going to come down here for what I think is the best Christmas schedule we’ve had since I got here. It’ll be nice to have a couple of days together.
Even today, it’s still my family’s Christmas tradition to go to church on Christmas Eve and then open all of our gifts that night (Santa comes while we’re at church!). When we were younger, we’d sleep in and then play with our toys or whatever on Christmas Day. It’s always fun just to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Luke has a six-year-old and Tyler has a two-and-a-half-year-old and one on the way, so, I have fun being the uncle they beat up on. I spoil them like crazy!
Crazy Games, Playing Defense and Charlotte Living
By Terry Rozier
What’s happening Hornets fan?! We are glad to be back in Charlotte for our five-game homestand. Lately, we’ve had a lot of close games and those are definitely ones I love to be in! Most people that play this game, we all love that type of atmosphere. That’s something we can ask for, but this year has been crazy on both ends, whether we’re losing or winning. Especially coming down to the last shot, we’ve been in a lot of crazy games like that. It’s competitive and we all enjoy it.
On defense, I just try and be active everywhere. Trying not to let my man score, trying to play help defense with my teammates. I love going for loose balls and grabbing rebounds, things like that. It just shows toughness. I like getting in there and just scrapping with the big guys. I’m just super competitive. I want to win on both ends of the floor. I’m all about being scrappy and I love to score.
The city of Charlotte has been very welcoming. It’s so laidback. It’s very chill. People don’t do too much. They mind their own business, but at the same time, they show me love. That’s always great and something you love to have. It’s never too much, never too little. I’m settling in very well and the fans here are great. I just appreciate everything you do and cheering us on every night.
Off the court, I’ll admit I’m pretty boring! I don’t really do too much. I like movies and shopping. I chill at the house with my peoples. I might do something here or there, but it’s never anything too crazy. I know I’m pretty boring, but summertime, that’s when I’m active! Restaurants though, I like Ruth’s Chris Steak House around by my house. I’ve got a chef, but I’m looking forward to finding new spots. I like trying new stuff and with time, I’ll get around to more.
Dealing with Adversity, Family Time and Happy Thanksgiving
By Marvin Williams
Hey there Hornets fans and Happy Thanksgiving! Hope everybody is doing well. We’re a little over a month into the season and we’ve hit a little bit of adversity, which happens. Throughout the course of a season, you’re going to have some highs when you win a few in a row and some lows when you lose a few in a row. I think the biggest thing for us is to stay positive and keep working. I feel like we had a great practice yesterday. JB has done a great job of really coaching us, pushing us and encouraging us all at the same time. He’s found a great balance with that. I think the morale and all is pretty good. Obviously, we’ve had a couple of heart-breakers lately and it has been difficult, but at the end of the day, I think we’re all still in a really good place and really excited to play tonight.
I think the biggest thing you can take away from the games we have lost (outside of that crazy Chicago game) is that we’ve had a lot of great stretches of play. At Washington, we were up nine or ten points in the fourth quarter and then lost tough one right there. Lost a tough one to Chicago. There were a lot of things in the Miami game we could have cleaned up. The things we’re making mistakes on are definitely controllable. I think that’s the most encouraging thing. We’re learning, still growing every day and trying to get better and better. As the season continues to progress, we’ll continue to get better and become more consistent on the defensive end. We’ll keep playing together on the offensive end and hopefully some of these heart-breaking losses will start turning into big wins for us.
We’re taking on the Pistons tonight and then again on Friday up in Detroit. We’ve played really well against them the last year or so. They’re so well coached and they have such good players that they force you to play at a high level. Whenever we play those guys, we know if we’re not bringing our A-game, they’re going to run us out of the gym. They’ll beat you up physically on the inside and they have a lot of guys who can make shots on the outside. You really have to be locked in when you play those guys. We’ve done well against them in the past, so hopefully we can come out tonight and play with the same intensity and effort that we’ve played with the last time we played them.
With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, we’ll have a solid day or so to spend with family before flying out in the evening. We’ve been gone for so much lately and it is a little difficult for guys who have families and kids, but that is the NBA. It’s what we signed up for, but it will be kind of nice to have an opportunity to have a morning with my family and an early evening as well. That’ll be fun and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Any time you get to be around for a holiday or a birthday, it is something you always do appreciate. I know with the NBA schedule (like Christmas for example), there are going to be a lot of teams that are on the road on Christmas Day. I’m sure that is tough for guys who have families or whatever the case may be, but I’m really thankful to have the opportunity to wake up here tomorrow morning and spend a little bit of time with family before we have to take off.
And lastly, I have to admit I don’t really have a favorite Thanksgiving dish! Over the years, I’ve missed so many of them with my family because of the NBA schedule that it’s almost kind of just another day. It’s always great to get together with family and friends and eat. The camaraderie is what makes it so special. I’m just looking forward to seeing everybody, definitely.
Game-Winner at MSG, Three-Pointers and Moving on From Tough Losses
By Devonte’ Graham
How’s it going, Hornets fans? We’re halfway through our road trip and looking to pick up another couple of wins before coming back home to Charlotte. Looking back, hitting that last-second shot against the Knicks on Saturday night was a great feeling. It was a great team win. Madison Square Garden is a tough place to play. Fans are loud and pack it in there every night. Any road win though is just a good team win.
Having so many guys contribute in crunch-time moments this season has been great. Since the beginning of the season, we haven’t had just one guy that goes out and is our main scorer every night. We have to bank on each other. One night it can be me, one night it can be Terry, one night it can be Bake, one night it can be Miles, Malik or whatever the case may be. We just have to make sure we’re prepared, ride the hot hand and keep playing through any adversity.
It’s still very early in the season, but it’s still pretty crazy I’m currently second in the NBA in total three-point fields. I never would have imagined that! It’s not something I really would have even thought about. The way games have been going, I just have to keep playing with that confidence and keep shooting the ball. My teammates keep telling me to shoot the ball, so that’s what I go out and try and do.
We’re coming off a tough loss in Toronto, where we didn’t play very well as a team. We had a good practice yesterday, watched film and got better. You can always learn and get better from losses like that. You have to put games like that behind you. You can’t be too high or too low. We had those two back-to-back game-winners, but we can’t live on that forever. We have to move on and Toronto came out and smacked us in the mouth. Now, we’re just prepared for tonight.
Lastly, I got to hang out with one of my good friends, Theo Pinson, last night, who plays guard for the Brooklyn Nets. I was watching my Kansas Jayhawks pull out a close win and he was making jokes. That game got ugly there for a little bit, when the other guys started coming back! East Tennessee State was down by just five with five minutes to go, but we were all good!
Being the New Guy, Getting Comfortable and Marvin Williams’ Leadership
By Terry Rozier
How’s it going Hornets fan?!?! It’s great to be in Charlotte and I can’t believe we’re already three weeks into the season! Being a new guy, it’s been a bit of an adjustment. I’m slowly making things happen, learning my teammates, learning how guys work. We’re just 10 games in and I only feel like it’s going to get better from here. It’s a long season and I’m just going to keep trying to be a leader and an outlet for these guys if they need help.
We talked a lot in the preseason about how we want to play and so far, we’re doing a pretty good job of following through with it. It’s been really good. We’ve got a young, competitive group of guys that want to win. It’s just been good for us to see the progress we’ve been making. We know we have a lot of room for improvement and you know we’re just going to keep getting better. We know that and it starts in practice with just pushing each other every day.
Even though I’m the new guy, I feel like I fit in pretty quickly. I’m just trying to play ball, be competitive and definitely stay out of foul trouble. That’ll help me a lot! Other than that, I’m just going to keep trying to get better and these guys are great teammates better with. They make me comfortable every day.
I love all my teammates, but one that stands out in particular is Marvin. He’s one of a kind, a true veteran. He’s very helpful with the team. He makes sure everybody is on the same page and things like that. He’s definitely made my job a little easier since coming here. It’s huge having a guy like him. He’s been around the game for a long time. Been to the playoffs plenty of times and he knows how this game works inside and out, off the court and on the court. He’s just a huge help for the guys and I’m glad to have him.
We’re starting a two-game homestand tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies and we’re all ready to be in front of our Charlotte fans! We lost our last two here, so we’re ready to get one back and get this thing rolling starting tonight.
Overtime Win, Playing Alongside Terry Rozier and Kemba’s Return
By Devonte’ Graham
What’s up, Hornets fans!?!?! We’re coming off that big overtime victory over Indiana last night and I’m definitely a little tired. My legs aren’t used to playing 40 minutes in the NBA!! Definitely a little tired, but I’m going to get some recovery work done and get some good stretching in.
It was a huge win for the team. We fought back and showed that fight in us. I feel like in every game, we’re getting better and better. The chemistry is getting there. I was happy and excited about the win, as I’m sure everyone else was.
Individually, I definitely couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season. I didn’t know what to expect with the new role I was going to have this year. Like I’ve been saying, my coaches and teammates are giving me that confidence to keep going out there, shoot and stay aggressive. So, that’s what I’m trying to do.
We started out slow last night, so I tried to come in and be that spark off the bench – get guys going and talking, attack the basket, knock down those shots when guys find me open. I was trying to do those little things to help us get on a run. We got the crowd into it, because that helps us and gives us more energy. Last night, we rolled with it and just kept going.
One thing about us is that it’s not just one person that opposing teams have to lock in on. On any given night, it could be anyone of us. Like the other night in Golden State, it was Bacon. The night before that it was PJ and Terry. We’re just rolling off each other right now.
Coach Borrego keeps telling us he has to find five guys who play well together. Each day, he’s going to roll with the group that’s going to bring the energy. Terry and I playing together, I definitely like it a lot. He can play off the ball, I can play off the ball. I think it’s harder for teams to guard two point guards as easily – we have two guys that can make plays.
It’s great that things are starting to come together for us. It shows that the work we’ve been putting in and the different pieces we have are paying off. We went through training camp and worked on building chemistry each practice. We keep getting better and better every day, every practice and every game. It’s working out so far.
Lastly, we’re taking on the Boston Celtics tomorrow night and that means Kemba Walker is coming back. We still talk in a group chat. We’ve been texting and he’s been telling us ‘Good game,’ and stuff like that. We had dinner with him when we went to Boston in the preseason. We definitely have to try and beat him though! Can’t let him come in here and put up 60 on us like we saw him do last year! It should be fun though and I’m looking forward to it.
Bacon Talks Start of Season, West Coast and FSU Hoops
By Dwayne Bacon
We’re officially a week into the season! I feel like I’m doing pretty well defensively right now, but offensively, it’s not exactly where I want to be. There’s no rush though – it’s four games in and there’s 78 games left. That’s a long season and I feel like things will come. I just need to keep working and trust the work I’ve put in all summer.
Our guys are really buying into what we’re trying to do this season. We played two of the best teams in the league already with the Lakers and the Clippers and we fought. Out of those eight quarters we played, we were right there in six of them. Guys aren’t satisfied though. We just have to amp it up and finish games, but we feel like we’re playing well and only going to get better. We’re a young team with a lot of young guys and we trust each other. Pretty soon, we should be getting more wins just by doing what we’ve been doing, trusting ourselves and playing hard.
This is pretty early to have a West Coast road trip. It’s a tough test for us, but we feel like we’re holding our own. We didn’t get the wins that we could have gotten – it just came down to the fourth quarter in both games in Los Angeles. We just have to build on it. There were a lot of good things in those games. We have to come out here tonight in Sacramento, get out in transition, run, get stops and continue to play through everything.
We have in our head we can beat anybody on any night. Within us, we know what we can do. We know each other and a lot of us have been working and playing together in Charlotte all summer. We’re comfortable with each other and now, trying to get everything locked in. We had some great games that we didn’t win, but that’s how it’s going to be this season for us. There’s going to be more games where we play great and get the W. We just have to learn how to finish and we’re going to keep competing all year. If we do that, we’ll get W’s just like we did the first game against Chicago. We just have to translate that to the rest of the season.
It’s definitely fun getting contributions from everybody right now. As the season goes on, we’re probably going to need that all year. Guys know that we don’t have the same players that we had last year, so we just have to come out and keep competing and do what we can do to get wins. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Lastly, I got to give a quick shoutout to a couple of my former Florida State teammates, Terance Mann and Mfiondu Kabengele, who we played against on Monday night when we faced the Clippers. Those guys are great. Fi’ went from redshirting to a first-round pick and that’s amazing to see him get drafted. I came into Florida State with T and we were teammates (and roommates) for two years. That’s one of my best friends for sure. It’s amazing to see the guys you grow with through college and now see them in the NBA. It’s crazy. The Florida State alums in the NBA are growing every year and I think there’s only going to be more moving forward!