24 Seconds presented by iBotta: Nicolo Melli

24 Seconds presented by Ibotta: Nicolo Melli

by Jim Eichenhofer

The year 2020 will be remembered for a lot of things – many of them negative – but for New Orleans forward Nicolo Melli, it marked his first full year playing in the NBA and living in the United States. The native of Italy and his wife reside in downtown New Orleans and have thoroughly enjoyed their year-plus living in the Crescent City.

In the second edition of Pelicans.com’s weekly 24 Seconds Q&A feature, we caught up with the 29-year-old to hear his year-end thoughts. Melli noted that his adjustment to the U.S. was aided partly by the fact that his mother, Julie, is actually an American herself. She won a silver medal in volleyball for the United States at the 1984 Summer Olympics, before moving to Italy to play professionally:

Pelicans.com: As this year thankfully concludes, are you someone who makes New Year’s resolutions?

Melli: Sort of, but not really. I’m not super big on them. But of course I have goals, that’s for sure.

Pelicans.com: What are some of your biggest goals for 2021?

Melli: Have a better season than last year as an individual and as a team. As a person, try to stay safe. I’m going to have huge changes in my private life, so new responsibilities are coming my way. So be a better version of myself.

Pelicans.com: With how brutal 2020 has been, are you happy that it’s almost over?

Melli: I’m not a guy to (sit around and complain about how) 2020 was terrible. It was. It was a bad year, with the pandemic. But hopefully 2021 is going to be better for everyone. I’m really proud of how people have taken care of each other and how resilient they are, because it’s not easy being in a situation like this, and still having hope and still keeping the idea of looking forward to a better year, with a vaccine kicking in.

Pelicans.com: With 2020 being the first full year you’ve lived in the United States, what have you enjoyed the most about coming here?

Melli: (Pre-pandemic) getting to travel and experience all of the different arenas was pretty cool, in my first year in the NBA. After (the shutdown), there was not a lot that my wife and I could enjoy. We just tried to stay as safe as possible and we’re still doing that. We didn’t get to enjoy the restaurants in the city or anything in particular. It was just a different year.

Pelicans.com: What’s been the toughest adjustment for you moving to America?

Melli: There was no toughest adjustment, honestly. There are things I don’t understand in the system in the United States, but we are still super privileged people. We are being take care of in all aspects of life. So it wasn’t rough at all. I was lucky in my career (in Europe) to experience different countries, getting used to a new culture and finding the right spots and right things to do.

Pelicans.com: What’s the experience been like interacting with Americans off the court?

Melli: Everywhere (in every country) there are good people, bad people, funny people. I’m enjoying it a lot. I like being around the people. With my mom being from Nebraska, I already know the culture. It’s been cool. We like it here. We are really enjoying every aspect of our routine and our life.

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