HoopsHype.com Interviews

Damir Omerhodzic: "Things are looking good for me"
by Jorge Sierra / May 12, 2004

You started playing basketball in Sweden, which is not a a country with a lot of basketball tradition. How was that?

Damir Omerhodzic: I lived in Sarajevo when I was a kid. But you know, then came war and when war started we have to move to another country. We move to Sweden and there, when I was 8 or 9, I was always on the streets with the ball. I told my mom that I wanted to play basketball seriously so she looked for a camp. I really liked it. Then I had like two or three basketball classes every week.

After that, I had the chance to join a club in Stockholm. I was there with Maciej Lampe. We were both on the same team. I played well there and they wanted me to play in the European Championship for Cadets. But I didn't want to play for Sweden. I decided I had to play somewhere else and looked for information on the Internet. I found a site that said something about a summer league with Cibona Zagreb. It was a summer league or something like that. I went there and I practiced with the team for two weeks. And I stayed there.

You moved to Croatia on your own when you were just 14. That had to be hard.

DO: Yes.

Very hard?

DO: Yes, it was very hard.

How was life for you there?

DO: It was especially hard at the beginning. I was on my own the first two years. That time was hard. But after two years, my mom came with me. She was not there with me all the time, but much of the time. If the season was eight or nine months long, she was five months with me – more less.

You didn't play much in your last year in Croatia? Did you expect that to happen?

DO: Pretty much. Anyway, I practiced and played some with the junior team, so it was not bad. I was the youngest player on the team and I had a couple of injuries, so it's normal that I didn't play much. But it's OK. It usually happens with young players.

You've been working out in Cleveland with trainer Eric Lichter. Do you feel more ready now to go through all those workouts with NBA teams?

DO: I felt ready before and I feel much more ready now. I have gained 20-30 pounds. I have more muscles and feel much stronger now. I've noticed a lot of progress in the last two weeks and a half. I've been working a lot on getting stronger, quicker and faster and that type of things.

Are you nervous about the workouts with NBA teams?

DO: Just a little bit. I know these workouts are very important.

What's the best thing you can show to scouts in those workouts ?

DO: I don't have a best thing. Maybe you can say one of the best things in my game is the shot. But I have a little bit of everything and you have to do a little bit of everything in workouts. In the last two weeks, I was working with one coach and we were focused on my post game and those things.

Is there any chance that you pull your name out of the draft?

DO: I don't know. I don't think so, but I don't know for sure. We'll see.

Is this going to be your decision or your agent's decision?

DO: (Laughs) No, no. It's not like that. Things are looking good for me, so right now I think I will stay in the draft.

What was the main reason for you to enter the draft this year instead of waiting some more time?

DO: I talked about it with my agents and we decided that it was the best thing. I just wanted to see how things could go. It was just to see.

I read that you had some family circumstances that forced you to enter the draft now. Was money a big issue in your decision?

DO: No, it's nothing special. It's nothing special. I don't need a lot of money. I have enough for myself. Money was not a big thing.

If you have to describe yourself as a player in a few words, what would you say?

DO: I can't say that, I can't say. (Laughs) I'm not going to say, "A player that can play inside and can also play outside." No, it's not like that. I don't think you can't define yourself as a player. I'm not going to do that.

Do you see yourself more as a small forward or as a power forward?

DO: I like to play small forward more. I can play power forward too, but I feel a little bit more comfortable playing small forward.

You got a reputation for having bad temper and getting angry easily. Do you think that reputation is deserved?

DO: It's not like that. I just like to play aggressive. That's it. I like to play hard. I always play hard. But saying that I I have bad temper, that's wrong. It's just that I enjoy playing hard. I enjoy games that are played hard the most.

Jorge Sierra is the editor of HoopsHype.com

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