Things started really good this season!
I had a career-high 26 points in the Euroleague as my team FC Barcelona won in Istanbul against Fenerbahce Ulker. My last scoring record was in a game played in Istanbul too! Hey, maybe they get smart and sign me or something… Just joking. I like Istanbul, but right now nothing can beat my current status: playing basketball in a powerhouse and living in a city like Barcelona.
I feel good when I’m in Istanbul. I got friends there and I’m always looking to go over there. Every year I’ve been in the Euroleague I’ve played against this team. It’s a challenge to play against all these guys that are fresh off the NBA. Players like former Jazz Gordan Giricek – good player, good contract – and Tarence Kinsey, who played with the Cleveland Cavaliers last season. Two guys that play the three spot and competed against me. I’m a competitor so I was looking to take that challenge.
In the Spanish League front, we’ve started well although Real Madrid – coached by Ettore Messina – leads the standings. With the great coach they have and with Pablo Prigioni playing the point guard, they are gonna win a lot of games. And I don’t even mention other players like Jorge Garbajosa, Louis Bullock, Sergi Vidal, Darjus Lavrinovic… Pablo doesn’t have to shoot the ball to have a good valuation. To me, they have a world superstar in Prigioni. He’s done it in Europe, he’s done it with his National Team, leading Argentina to great success. They were my teammates in Vitoria last year and I’m happy that they are in Madrid.
Those two guys, with me and Will McDonald… Amazing. Four of the five starters, we all left the team who set the best record in the history of the ACB in the regular season. Money had nothing to do with it, that’s my personal opinion. I never had a negotiation with the club but now I’m 100 percent sure that I made the right decision to sign with Barcelona.
You can compare Pablo to a guy like Jason Kidd. He’s not as tall as Kidd, but both of them play for the assist, and Pablo has a better outside shot. Both are tough in defense, very tricky with the ball (behind-the-back passes and behind-the-head passes!) and they are great in screen-and-roll. When he played with Tiago Splitter, it was a like Euroleague version of Stockton and Malone. Tiago is a great player and the whole world needs to see him in the NBA. I hope in two years he go to the NBA and maybe he will replace Tim Duncan in a few years when he’s done playing.
Last weekend we played a tough game in Madrid against Estudiantes. I’ve been on small teams so I understand what it feels like to play against the team that won the championship the year before. I understand that kind of motivation. We suffered a couple of injuries – Juan Carlos Navarro got hurt – but we knew it was going to be a tough game with or without injuries. We did our job and got away with a W.
I learned a lot about Juan Carlos this season, about the way he plays. Navarro is very smart. He doesn’t rush anything. He scores his points in the flow of the offense, that’s why I have so much respect about him. Some players, they just go one-on -ive to score, but he is a complete player and in defense he’s been good. It’s great he’s with us instead of playing in the NBA.
One teammate that that will play there one day is Ricky Rubio.
I had never traveled with a rock star until now. To me, Ricky’s nickname is Rock Star. When I got drafted to New York, I played with Latrell Sprewell and I thought that was something. Everybody wanted a piece of Spree, everybody wanted an autograph, but there’s no comparison on the attention Ricky commands. It doesn’t matter where we’re at. Anywhere in Spain, in Europe… We can be in Turkey, everywhere. That’s why I call him the Rock Star, because I actually see people crying over him. I’ve never seen it! Girls crying! People want pictures, they come to the hotel to find him… It’s unbelievable. And he’s such a good kid though. He handles all these situations so well. His parents did a great job raising him because he’s such a humble and nice kid. He’s special.
Celts all the way
The Boston Celtics are going to win the NBA. Period. They play consistent defense. But they have to find that player who comes in and changes the game like James Posey did. Maybe they have it in Marquis Daniels, I don’t know. When they won the championship, Posey had to guard Kobe and he made open three-pointers too. He’s an intangible guy, like Sergi Vidal when I played in Vitoria. Posey did the same when he won the title with the Miami Heat. Playing D, rebounding, making open threes and guarding the best player. Guarding Kobe Bryant is difficult enough in one game. Being able to do that throughout the Finals was unbelievable. When he won the title against the Mavs, he guarded guys like Dirk Nowitzki. You know, Posey is 6-foot-7! He did the dirty job. Once some guy gets that role on a winning team, they are gonna be unstoppable. I know Posey personally. He’s a great guy and he deserved the contract he got with the Hornets.
It’s hard accepting your role sometimes. Take our team, Barcelona. We have so many guys who can score. Our coach Xavi Pascual has done a great job of keeping everybody unselfish. He creates a great environment for us to practice and play. This year I feel great everyday about going to practice. Last year was totally opposite: I didn’t.
Done for today. Talk to you soon!