Chillin’ in Miami, guys… Now I’ve got all day to enjoy life! I was in Bahamas last weekend… Three days on my boat, fishing… It’s the good life! My friend Boniface N’Dong sent me some nice photos: big fishes over a hundred pounds! But I will send him some nice pictures too, because I’ve done a lot of fishing!
Anyway, I’m starting to feel it… You know, eager to start getting ready for the season! August 19. It’s time to come back to work, see my teammates, my coach and the new directors, meet those guys face to face. Because it’s been a long process to get to this point.
BACK WITH BARCELONA
Last game of the season was June 15. We lost the ACB Finals against Caja Laboral, a great team led by Tiago Splitter, who’s now with the Spurs. I felt different emotions because I played for that team. We lost 3-0, but if you look at every fourth quarter, we basically lost every game ourselves.
We were up by eight points in the first game, then we lost. In the second game, we were up by four and we lost. In the final game, we were up by two points with eight seconds to go in overtime and we lost after a great play by Fernando San Emeterio. We did it to ourselves. We didn’t execute the way we always do in offense and defense.
We knew they were tough and they beat us. You have to give them credit. The hardest thing to do in basketball is to repeat as champions. That’s what makes the Lakers winning back-to-back titles so incredible.
From that day on, I didn’t want to speak about my situation. I kept my mouth closed until the end of the season. Then I finally went to the media and told my story… Why I was unhappy, and why I wanted to consider signing with another team. There were a lot of things about the story, some true, some not true… You know, it’s the media. There’s always two sides of the story.
A long process, a lot of teams being involved, talk about buyouts… But in the end, we came to an agreement with FC Barcelona and I think we’re both happy with it. I’m happy. If I wasn’t happy I wouldn’t be going back. I’m looking forward to work with the new directors.
It’s a breath of fresh air to work with who really wants me on the team. They made me feel I’m wanted. It’s going hard to repeat the success of last season, but we’ll try.
I haven’t spoken with new president Sandro Rosell directly, but I think that’s the first thing I’m going to do once I’m back in Barcelona – a sitdown with all the directors and thank them for the job they did. They know and love basketball. The soccer team will be first in Barcelona, of course, but basketball is important for the people too.
LAKERS ON SIGHT
Before we start the season, some of my teammates will have played the World Championship. And then we’ll face the NBA champions Los Angeles Lakers in October.
I will be a free agent next year, and the NBA will be one of my options. So any chance you get to play against the best player on the best team in the world… You don’t want to miss it. There’s no excuses, we will try to play a great game. We’re the best team in Europe right now. They’ll have young guys but I’m sure we’ll have the chance to play against the Kobes and Gasols. We will be in great shape and I’ll be ready for that challenge.
SPLITTER A GREAT FIT IN TEXAS
When I was in Vegas in July, I ran into Marcelinho Huertas and told him ‘Where’s my boy Tiago?’ and he said ‘He just signed with the Spurs!’ I was very happy to hear about that. He’s been in Vitoria since he was a teenager. He’s learned from Dusko Ivanovic, Neven Spahija… He’s prepared for whatever coach Popovich is gonna give him. He’s a special player, just like Ricky Rubio. One of my favorite teammates.
NEW DAY IN MIAMI
Well, every time you turn on the radio you hear LeBron james is hosting a party… Right after he told in ESPN he was going to Miami, I got an invitation: ‘LeBron is hosting a party’… He flew a private jet and hosted a party at 1 am… That’s the Miami way. Truth to be told, people here are buzzing.
It’s great for the economy in Miami and for the Latino people. This team is going to create more jobs for people and more money to the city. Everybody knows that the Heat give a lot of money to the community with the leadership of legends like Alonzo Mourning.
It’s much more than just basketball with LeBron and Chris Bosh coming here to play with Dwyane Wade. Last year you could get good tickets for $40. This season, it’s all sold out. You can see the difference.
Now I see a lot of No. 6 jerseys… I was used to seeing No. 6 jerseys of Eddie Jones, but now it’s time for King James.
And as I said before, there’s always two sides of the story. There’s been some cases where people in Cleveland have showed they are still very frustrated with LeBron leaving the Cavs.
Being from the Midwest, I understand that these cities like Chicago, Cleveland are filled with hardcore fans. LeBron’s departure really hurt the city of Cleveland. It hurt owner Dan Gilbert more than anybody else.
Basketball wise, they all signed for six years. If it doesn’t work out this year, it will the next one. The fans will still be there. If they lose the Finals this year, they will have extra motivation for the next one.
I know one thing: If I had a chance to join two of my good friends to be able to win multiple championships, I would leave a lot of money on the table too. And you have the city of Miami, the South Beach appeal… Everybody wants to come here!
And they will work hard, I know that. They are one of the hardest-working organizations as far as practices. It’s not the typical NBA practices, especially when Pat Riley is watching.
I worked out for the Heat going into the draft and I can tell you their practices are intense, with a lot of defense and running. European mentality: a lot of practice, they do the body fat test, you have to keep your body fat around 7 percent… I know this from experience. That’s why this team is going to be good. Coach Erik Spoelstra is a Riley guy, and he understands how to work with those guys. They are going to play defense and rebound.
You can’t rule out the Magic and the Celtics next season, though. Nobody thought the Celtics would go that far last season. I believe in that team. I believe in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo. They are tough and the Heat will have to beat that team to get to the Finals.
It’s going to be a very exciting season, both in the NBA and in Europe!
And that’s a wrap. Talk to you soon, guys.