HoopsHype.com Interviews

Kenechukwu Obi: "Mutombo told me that I will be great if I put more effort"
by Jorge Sierra / November 26, 2003

When did you start playing basketball?

Kenechukwu Obi: I started playing basketball like five months ago.

Why did you start playing?

KO: I started to play in order to utilize my height, but many people had been telling me to start playing and hearing them strengthen me to the game.

Where do you practice? Do you have many basketball courts in Nigeria?

KO: In Nigeria, basketball is not recognized. They only recognize soccer. They have few basketball courts in Nigeria and I have to practice in the national stadium.

How was your experience at the NBA camp in South Africa? [The Africa 100 Camp took place in Johannesburg between September 2 and September 7.]

KO: Being in the NBA camp in South Africa gave me a very big experience. I was exposed to the world of basketball and it gave me the opportunity to see NBA coaches and players.

What did you enjoy the most of the camp?

KO: I don't really have a best part in the camp. Everything about the camp was great.

Dikembe Mutombo took you under his wing there. Did he give you any advice?

KO: Dikembe Mutombo told me that I will be great if I put more effort.

Have you been in touch with him or anybody else from the NBA after the camp?

KO: No, I've not been in touch with Mutombo or anybody else from the NBA after the camp. I didn't get their address.

Like most places in Africa, Nigeria is a poor country and it's on the news only for negative things. Has it been tough for you growing up there?

KO: I can't really tell about Nigeria of their negative things. My dad is a disciplinarian and I don't mix up with people much. But yes, it has been tough growing in Nigeria since the country is poor.

And what are your plans for the future?

KO: I would like to go to a high school or college in America or Europe since Nigeria doesn't have the facilities to improve on my game.

Any high school or college in special?

KO: No, no one in special.

Can you see NBA games on TV in Nigeria?

KO: They don't show NBA games here in Nigeria television stations. You can only watch it on DSTV.

And which NBA players do you like?

KO: I admire every NBA player, but I focus more on the big men that are in the game -- like Shaq, Mutombo, Robinson, Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Olowokandi, Garnett and many other big men.

Those who have seen you play say you already have an NBA body. Do you expect to grow more?

KO: I wouldn't like to grow again at my height now. People say that I'm an extraordinary human being. I wonder how I'll be if I add more (inches).

Finally, what parts of your game do you think you have to work on the most to have a good basketball career in the future?

KO: I've not played much basketball, but coach Alex English and many other coaches said that I should focus more on my post game and that defense will give me a good basketball career.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com.

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