Tough game the other day at Fuenlabrada. It’s always gonna be tough there. Last year, when I played with Baskonia, we lost. That team plays with so much energy at home. They fight till the end and they play particulary well at home.
Also, we beat my former team last week. It was a great game for us. Probably the best game so far. We are always asked how we feel when facing clubs you have played for. In my case, there’s no emotion involved. Just business, going out and play the game. Anyway, it was nice getting to see some of my ex teammates like Tiago Splitter, Mirza Teletovic, Fernando San Emeterio… I was looking forward to see them. I spent some time talking to assistant coach Ibon Navarro, who’s a very good friend of mine. Got the chance to talk to him for a few minutes. Just being in the same court and compete with all of those guys was great because I know how hard they work.
You know in Spain there’s El Clasico, the great soccer game between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It’s a huge rivalry. I can’t say there’s a rivalry between Caja Laboral and Barcelona, but I can say we’ve played a lot lately. Last season I think we played 11 or 12 games! And I think we had beat them coming back to the Finals the year before eight times in a row. Then finally beat us one game and that’s when everything changed. It started a great rivalry. When I signed to play in Barcelona, I already knew the players so well because I scouted them so much.
There’s been reports out there about low attendance in Euroleague games. I don’t think it’s worse than in previous. When we played in Zagreb, it was sold out. Then we played in Turkey against Ulker and they didn’t have a lot of fans. What I can tell you is that our fans have been great. Our gym is not as big as a lot of other gyms, but the supporters are fantastic. This season Barcelona started selling jerseys for the first team and I heard my jersey is sold out already! It’s a great deal to me, considering the players we have. Juan Carlos Navarro, Ricky Rubio… A lot of stars on our team!
Speaking of jerseys, I read a story that basically said that Michael Jordan doesn’t need LeBron‘s support. He’s already Michael Jordan. Jordan is in another level. Everybody can wear the number 23. A lot of people who grew up in Illinois like me, we idolized Jordan. We were able to watch him on local TV every single day. I got the chance to see Chicago Bulls every day – games, highlights, interviews… I’m a guy who understands why people wear No. 23. If you grew up in Illinois, then you can understand why guys like Corey Maggette, Quentin Richardson, Dwyane Wade idolized him so much. It was all Jordan, all the time for them. So I think if somebody wants to wear No. 23, he should be able to wear it.
Brandon Jennings had two good games last year against me in the Euroleague when I played with Baskonia. Actually, his two best games in the Euroleague were against us! Anyway, yeah, I watched the game. 55 points. European basketball, NBA basketball… Two different games. I think he scored 29 points in one quarter. In Europe, it’s highly unlikely you could have the chance to do that. He played one-on-one from the top of the key, screen and roll, shooting every time. That’s not gonna happen here. We can play zone defense, clog the lane. I don’t know what the scouting report was on Jennings, but I know it was wrong! He just played one-on-one from the top of the key and the big guy let him shoot. He didn’t show him respect, so he started getting that kind of confidence. And once you start making shots, you can penetrate to the basket, mid-range, three-pointers, everything.
This guy is great on screen and rolls. Left handed, so crafty with the ball… Now he’s going to get more attention and he can create more opportunities for other teammates. Now the big guy is gonna have to step out and help the guard on the screen and roll, so he will have the chance to find Andrew Bogut under the basket or find the guy on the weak side.
The main thing with Jennings is that he doesn’t play like a rookie. He’s more like a second-year player. Anytime you’ve spent your first year in Europe playing in the Euroleague, competing against some of the best players in the world, competing against men, you don’t feel like a rookie when you go to the NBA. You learn the team basketball, how to play the game. You spend a lot of time in the gym working on your shot, team defense, strategy. If you are a good player, you’ll be able to do the adjustment. It’s not easy to play in Europe.
NO AI IN NYC
So Allen Iverson is not going to New York finally. The Knicks will get it right soon. I got drafted in 2000, the year they went to the Finals and lost to San Antonio. Latrell Sprewell, Glen Rice, Allan Houston, Chris Childs… I know about the program. They had a great team in 1999 and ever since, it’s broken up a little bit. They have the city, they have the right coach, they just got to find the right players and be focused only on winning basketball games. That’s going to take some time, though. They’ve got the money, the cap space. And everybody wants to play in New York. It’s such a great media market. They’ll be back on top in two years. This is the biggest summer of all time in the NBA. There will be a lot of broken hearts when July comes. In Cleveland? in New York? In Miami?
They call Miami the Dade County, but now it’s Wade County. I don’t think he’s going too far.
That’s all for now. Bye!