It was a good summer all in all. I ended up signing earlier than some would have liked but in the end it’s a great situation for me and more importantly, the fam. The team is ASVEL and the city is Lyon. Can’t beat it for me. I get to make my French perfect and play on France’s top team in the Eurocup. Not bad. I know this much… It’s going to be fun. Patna… fun, digging into the teams that still didn’t believe. The teams that passed me up, again, in lieu for the name. Well, that name is playing against me now and I have no restrictions. Now I can pin my ears back and all Coach Collet has to say is, “sick ’em.” Like I said, it’s going to be fun.
In that sense, I don’t think I’ve changed. Nor will I ever. Even in high school when I saw a guy cloaked in hype, I was never mad or jealous. I just loved competition. I love emptying my pockets and playing poker on the court until someone bluffs. Basketball has always being more of a game of chess to me than a sport, really. Because once we’re on the court, no one can help you. No newspaper, no magazine, not even your contract. It’s rather easy to never to be afraid to prove it on the court because I’m not too good to get whooped.
Every once in a (blue freakin’ moon) when it does happen, it’s like a baptism. Afterwards, I come up cleansed and prepared to dish out double of what I received. And this summer I have been blessed to equip myself with tools that enhance my mind and body. First the hell hot yoga… When you’re done, you feel like spaghetti but like a baby. And it doesn’t take long to go from touching your ankles to grabbing the bottom of your feet.
The ju-jitszu was as sweet as usual. I like that stuff way too much and next summer I want to couple it with akido. I really have to get a one-on-one teacher. But it’s hard as hell to keep up with when you’re hoopin’. One has to consider the team’s investment. So obviously, it was prudent to stop after I signed. One day though, I’ll be able to travel to Bombay, Rio and Henin and really study. I incorporated some MMA for the first time. I used to wonder why those guys are so ripped. Now I know. They do like 500 push ups a day! 25 here… Hand walk… 25 more…10 burpies… Hand walk… Etc. Really scary when you think of these guys trying to punch a hole in your head. They probably could.
And lastly, I saw no loss of strength with the diet. Actually got stronger. I trained with a speed trainer down here in Houston named Rayford and went from a 4.9 to a 4.59. I was a bit miffed though seeing as how I was fast for any size in college. But screw it, I don’t play football. Anyway, I am satisfied that I added to myself outside of my sport and hopefully, as a person I’m moving to be better. Because, as a basketball player, you (you know exactly who you are) are gonna get it. Watch tape.
As for the things that took away from my lifespan… NY. I’m sorry. How do ya’ll live there? Every time I go there, it takes a year off my life. It’s like an American Lagos. They say traffic is bad in Houston… Have any of you ever been in people traffic? Bloody hell!
And try asking for directions. “Excuse me ma’am… Pardon me.” I should have traded the Texas accent for the Nigerian. It might have done me better than what I got. I’m on subway trains switching and swirling for three hours and somehow get close to where I’m going. In that wake, I found the nerve to slightly tap one of the may goers by that kept ignoring the country accented pleas of this obviously out of place giant. She did stop though and I’m not sure… I take that back… I’m sure now I wish she didn’t. This girl stopped five steps after I tapped her, slowly turned around like I was in a Godfather movie, (what the hell was she about to do to me, man?) gave me the most evil look I have ever seen… Like five seconds this look, man… Curled her lip, sucked the spinach out of her teeth and kindly told me I had feces on my face and walked off. I think I wanted to cry. Cause I have no idea how to describe how that felt. I was lost, and confused and no one gave a rat’s patooty. Now when I tell the story of Medusa, it’s funny as hell but when it happened I felt like a seven year old boy who just lost his mommy in Toys R Us.
Anyway, I found my way to, I guess, the LLITS… I don’t know what the hell it was called, Long Island Train Station, I guess, and saw a sign that said information. “Oh praise God!” “Uh sir,” he rolled his eyes and said “yeah” as if to say I was bothering him. (I know it sounds cliche of NY, but I swear it was like this but it faded to nicer and nicer as I got to where I was going… Watch). Let me tell you, in Texas when that reaction is given to a customer, 9 times out of 10, that person will hear something of it. You know some smart alec retort that could escalate to a “Where’s your manager?!” But I was in such disarray and slightly intimidated, I kinda clinched my map close to my chest like a squirrel, eyes and all and ask the guy I could barely hear behind his 10″ think glass how long it was by taxi from where I was to Glen Cove in Long Island. (Yes, I was done with the subway and was ready to pay a mint to a taxi above just to take me there). Dude looks at his watch like I’m a complete moron and laughs slightly and says, “bout two howhaz (hours)” What? I thought NY was a (geographically) small city! OK, so how long by this train? One hour. OK, when’s the next train? In an hour. WTF?!
Folks. I was so distraught, I sat down in front of a underground kiosk and ate popcorn with butter. Barely noticed it made me sick. In the end, I made it to Glen Cove and ate at my boy’s new restaurant called Fino Rosso. If it weren’t for that dinner along with how nice (I should probably say how much nicer but at this point I was numb) the people were in and on the way to Long Island, I would have just found a hole to crawl in. It was like a different country. The walk was pleasant and everyone gave me directions. It was so refreshing I walked to Igor’s (Rakocevic) new eatery. I passed up what everyone was telling me was J Lo’s pad (didn’t know they made houses like that outside of Texas).
Anyway, if you live in Glen Cove or in NY and wish to exhale from people giving you the doo doo face look, you gotta hit up Fino Rosso. I sat outside, felt like I was in a classic Italian covey in Milan (played there) and ate a perfect meal. When I first heard of Igor doing an Italian Restaurant in Long Island, I asked him why not in Manhattan? I mean, capital for investment was not an issue. Location right? Well I didn’t know much about NYC, did I? Perfect spot. Is there an airport in Long Island? I think next NYC trip will land there.
In this time of signing and free agency, no matter how much teams have been fooled and burned, hype will always be the deciding factor in who gets the pay day. You just have to hope the hype favors you at the time it’s your turn to sign. Some guys are worth more (Baron, Mo, Ryan, Kelenna, congrats bros. I am a fan and you are a $50 million player. You’re young, after this contract I hope you get it). Some guys you want to borrow their picture of the GM in a compromising pose. But for all the guys, no matter how much under or over you get… Get it. It’s a blessing to get it. Find a way to smile about it. But when the money is out the way, it comes the time to enjoy the competition. Now on the court, let’s play a game of chess.
The court is the stage we can leave all the incompetence of those who swear they know our hearts. Cause that is what separates the cream of the crop. Body takes you so far. Spirit, mind, heart separates. Then in the end, they’ll add the hype and claim to know the best. And no one will care except them. Guys will sign the biggest contract wherever it is and keep it moving. When I read Olympiakos was offering Josh Childress that contract initially I said, “He wont take it.” As the biggest obstacle for a star like him going overseas is the perception of life. Then I read, he’s going the Athens to be courted by the team and I remembered he went to Stanford and knew he would do it.
It is a trend that I assure you will continue as long as the offers are there (and I think they’ll get higher). Even before the high school kids (Brandon Jennings?) signed in Italy, I told my wife our son would never play in college if he was a Dwight #2. Can you imagine that dude playing against Duke or Kansas? I commend Jennings’ parents for not giving a damn. He’ll play a year and come back (if he doesn’t get a monstrous offer… Remember, I said it) and be a top 5 pick in the NBA.
In the end though, Europe is a different monster and it is your adaptation to the culture, not your talent, that will determine one’s success there. I’m not going to sit here and say the players in Europe are better than NBA players, because they’re not in the sense you’re thinking. The NBA is full of freaks. Europe has few to none. But they simply don’t make mistakes. So in that sense, they are better. Cool. Now everyone is armed with knowledge and a nice check in the back pocket. Now get yo ass on this court! Ha ha ha! I’ll get you smurfs. No one can save you! Not Papa smurf, Liono, He-Man. Not even the Hype Monster. He’s dead and I buried his behind under my red dirt yard in Onitsa.
Ugwumagana si na o mang ji maka oku na gbo ozala na o gaa ehapu igba nwogala ya.
Until next time… Have a nice day.