After being a major part of the Wizards’ push to the playoffs last season, the franchise seemed determined to keep him, sending Wizards coach Randy Wittman and the general manager to Poland in the off-season to negotiate. “I spoke with a lot of players and they told me, ‘You can’t deny the love, if they love you so much you have to go with the team,’” Gortat said. “One thing I was just afraid of they were going to try to use this as a joker in the sleeve (and say), ‘Well, we went to Poland, now you got to sign with us.’ … But it never turned that way. It never did.”
He’s also, as he showed when sending Polish food to the NBA on TNT crew after Shaquille O’Neal declared that pierogies were sausages, determined to bring a bit of his homeland to the United States. “It goes both ways,” he said. “The good part about being an international guy on the team is people can learn where’s Poland and things from my culture and obviously I’m learning everyday about American culture. Obviously there’s a few guys on the team that have no clue where’s Poland. People were saying Africa …” Wait, who was saying it was in Africa? “What happens in the locker room stays in the locker room,” he grinned.
“The two things I’m quite sure we have big advantage over the United States: women, we have the most beautiful women … I mean beautiful and smart and good culture, most of them come from good houses,” he said, of Poland. “And the second thing is food. We have a lot of farmers. “We have a lot of healthy food, I think the numbers show in the United States that 50% of the people in the U.S. are overweight, so back in Poland that’s impossible — I don’t think we have 25% even.”