Players’ Blog: Watching The Last Dance and Being a Full-Time Dad
Different Hornets will continue to check in with hornets.com on Wednesdays this season for their 2019-20 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. If you know someone who is a captain in the local community, visit hornets.com/bluecrossnc to tell us about them! They could be rewarded for their efforts with a VIP Captain for a Day experience presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina!
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!