How did I mess that up?
That’s what I was thinking after that Chicago game a couple weeks ago. I know you remember the play.
I just kept watching that game, probably like four times. I watched the whole thing. Watched my offensive minutes, my defensive minutes. Then, I watched the last five minutes.
I made the wrong read. Then Zach LaVine made the lay-up. Wish I could get it back, but I can’t.
After a loss, I just always feel, ‘What could I have done better? How could I have changed things?’
I watch film, try to look at my mistakes, learn from them, face the facts, and be real with myself. Then after I do that, I just try to move on and go to the next game.
How do I get over?
In LA, me and Pat Beverley, we used the term, ‘Get your lick back.’ After Chicago, it was like:
‘Mike, you got to get your lick back. You can’t go out like that! Hell nah. You got to get it back - swagger, mojo, confidence. You got to go extra. You got to do way better than what you did in Chicago.’
In my case, any time I force it, it don’t end up good. The Houston game right after we played Chicago? Didn’t work out good. I felt like I was forcing it. Lick didn’t come back.
The next time out against Indiana? That was a feel good game. I didn’t shoot the ball well from three, but overall I felt like I did other little things to help us win the game. The spirit was better. I felt like my mojo was back. You just build on that game. Then you watch that tape, and it makes you feel a lot better. You want to keep that mindframe. I felt like I was getting the lick back.
When I’m out there playing, there’s a couple of things I want the guys I’m going against to know:
I play hard, he’s a dog, makes shots, when you switch on him he’s going to try to bury you. Also that I play with a lot of energy, I’m physical and tough. Mainly, I’m going to do what it takes to win.
Toughness, you can’t fake that. It’s got to be genuine.
I think I get my toughness from a bunch of places. My dad was in the Marines. He’s retired now, but was in the service for 25 years - straight out of high school. Being raised by him, that was tough. He didn’t take nothing. He was a drill sergeant, did tours in Desert Storm, Iraq, and all that. He was a beast. He was tough, in shape. Now he done got fat and old and retired, as he should. He had a crazy life. But growing up, I couldn’t go to no parties, didn’t have no girls in the house. It was basketball and school work, school work and basketball.
Coming from Virginia, where I’m from in the 757, you can’t be soft. My dad used to make me play with the older guys, and to be honest, they used to punk me. ‘You got to get tougher,’ they said. They wouldn’t call me soft, but I probably was timid. Yeah, a little soft, a little frail. I didn’t really have that tough mentality, that tough demeanor until I started getting a little older.
I went to college at Virginia, and then was drafted by the Hawks. In Atlanta, I had some hardcore vets. My rookie year, I had Josh Smith, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Morrow, Zaza Pachulia. Lou Williams was my vet, Al Horford was there. I had great professionals - Kyle Korver, Devin Harris, Jeff Teague. I was always around hardcore vets. You remember Ivan Johnson, the guy who used to wear the grills? Nobody would ever mess with Ivan Johnson.
I learned about toughness in Atlanta, but I also learned how to be a pro. Paul Millsap got there. DeMarre Carroll. For the most part, I was always taught to be physical, be aggressive, have that mindframe that nobody’s going to punk me, and just play with that chip on your shoulder. I got that from Elton Brand too. He was with me in Atlanta my second and third year.
As a teammate, EB was a good dude, a great dude. I remember he used to have this machine. I don’t know if it was electric stim machine or something else, but he would hook it to his legs before every game, and his muscles would be pulsing - pulse, pulse, pulse. I’d be like, ‘Dang EB! What you doin?’ He said, ‘I’m getting ready for the chicken, baby. I’m getting ready to get some chicken.’
He was talking about getting buckets out there. He used to make his little midrange, slap himself on the side, then get back on defense. EB taught me how to defend in the post, even though I wasn’t no post defender like him. He had big hands, long arms, a shot blocker, he was stronger. I always used to pick his brain about defending in the post, and he showed me. Fastforward, and here we are now. It’s crazy how things turn around.
EB and I didn’t really stay in touch much after Atlanta. He was busy, past couple years got a bunch of stuff on his plate. But the night I was traded from LA, he texted, he called, and said, ‘Welcome back. We’re back together. We’re trying to win some things, turn it up this year.’ That felt good, knowing that he was thinking about me.
I liked my time in LA. It was short, but going back to Cali this past season was my first time since I lived there for about two years, when my dad was stationed there. Cali’s cool, man. Can’t beat the weather, 75 degrees on Christmas. But I’m an East Coast guy, spent most of my life here. This is where I really like to be.
I haven’t known the Philly fans too long. The love I got when I hit a late three against Orlando earlier this month though? That felt good. I actually kind of view myself like a Philly fan, because they keep it real, and I try to keep it real. They show love when we need it, they give it up when we need it, and when we’re playing good like we should. When we’re not, you got to let us know too. Can’t take it personal.
One of my old teammates, he used to comment back to fans online. First of all, you can’t comment back. When you’re playing Madden, or 2K, or watching your NFL team, what do you do when your team stinks it up? You talk trash about them! I know when my Redskins play, and somebody does something, I’m like, ‘He’s terrible! What’s he doing?’ You don’t mean it, but it’s your team! That’s how our fans do, and that’s good, man. It keeps you humble. We got some hard nosed fans, blue collar fans, gritty fans. That’s how I feel I am - humble, down to earth, don’t think too much, don’t think too down. I just have that passion to win.
Seven years in this league, and I haven’t won no championship yet. I’ve been to an Eastern Conference Finals. We got swept, but I’ve still never missed the playoffs. Am I a glue guy? I know Coach Brown thinks so, and I agree. What I’ve learned is that you have to know your role, know what it takes to get there, to try and win a championship. You got to know it takes a team, doing whatever it takes I think that’s probably the most important thing. That’s how I feel like with this team, the 76ers. We come out, we play with a lot of energy, and make plays.
Me? I know we’ve already got our guys. But you need a guy or group of guys who know their roles. The offensive end, that’s my bread and butter, but coaches have always told me, if you want to earn an extra three, four, or five minutes, it’s going to be on the other end. I think that involves humility, doing whatever it takes to win. Everybody wants to take the last shot, to be the All-Star, or get that max contract. We all want that. But you also got to know your role, know what it takes.
You do that, and shoot, man, you never know what just might happen.