A lot of people have been wanting details about my stay in Italy. They also have been asking questions. Are you coming back this season? What team are you playing for next season? How do you like it over there? Do you regret signing a 1 year deal? Well I’m going to answer all of those questions and get you up to speed with my time in Italy.
First off I want to say I appreciate all of you for actually giving a damn. It still amazes me that I have so many people that actually keep up with me and are fans of my game.
"Different" is the best word to use when people ask me about my time in Italy. Everything is totally different from what I’ve grown accustom to while living in the states. From the language to the way the actual game of basketball is played.
The question that most of the people on Twitter ask me and @TeamCDR is "Why did you/he sign a one year deal without an NBA out clause?" To be honest, during the lockout I wasn’t thinking of when/if the NBA was going to return this season. I just wanted to play basketball. Regardless of what most people think, I love the game. I’m loyal to the game. Simple as that. I still wake up early every morning with a burning desire to become a better basketball player. With that being said, I didn’t want to wait on the NBA. I felt it was too early in my career for me to be missing months of basketball. I was also in a stage where I was unhappy with my career in the NBA thus far. Yea, I had a few good months…few good games, but I wasn’t consistent enough for my liking. I’m my own biggest critic. A lot of my fans make excuses for me, but I don’t believe in excuses. All people care about is the end result. Either the shit gets done or it doesn’t. That’s how I look at life. So, with the lockout pending and guys like Wilson Chandler and JR Smith signing 1 year deals overseas, I felt it was the perfect time for me to step away from the NBA for a little while and re-invent myself. Both as a player and a person. Also, I’m a loyal person. If I make a commitment, I’m going to stick to it. I didn’t want to sign with this team over here and leave in the heart of the season.
The second most asked question is "How is it over there? How are you playing?"
Italy is beautiful. One of the most beautiful countries in the world. The food is also incredible. I believe in living life and experiencing things you can tell your grand children about. During the lockout I could’ve signed for more money with an NBA out clause in other countries, but I wasn’t in need of money. This decision definitely wasn’t about the money. I’m straight. It was more-so about basketball and life experiences. I’m from the westside of Detroit. From one of the worst neighborhoods called the “Number Streetz”. I’ll actually be able to say I lived in Italy for a year. How real is that?
Basketball is much different here. I can honestly say the games are much more competitive than NBA games. I’m not just saying that either. This is why. I’m playing in the first division (Serie A). There are 17 teams and you play each team twice a year. Once at home and once away. You play ONE game per week every Sunday. Therefore, that team you’re playing has an entire week to prepare for you. By the time Sunday rolls around, that team knows all of your offensive sets and defensive strategies. They also focus in on your best player’s tendencies. Most games are decided between five points or less so defense is played at very high intensity the WHOLE GAME. The gyms are smaller and the fans are intense. I’ve never seen atmospheres like this in my career. Even in college. The fans are fuc*in insane for their teams. Also, the team that finishes last gets demoted to the second division (serie B) which is very disappointing. Every game is like the championship game. These teams carry great pride.
Game-play…fouls aren’t really called unless its obvious. This was something I had to get used to. At the beginning of the year I was getting technical fouls for screaming at the refs (which wasn’t a good idea). I haven’t been getting that many calls my way since. Hahaaaa. There is also no three seconds over here so the paint is always jam packed. You have to have a nice mid-range floater game and be able to knock down threes. Now it makes sense why mostly all European players can shoot. It’s because they have to. The games are only 40 minutes, eight minutes less than the NBA games so the games are much less scoring here. If you’re averaging 10ppg over here it’s equivalent to 20ppg in the league. No gas.
My team is currently in 2nd place. We have a really good coach and team. It’s more about team over here too. There are no ego’s. If you win games, everybody is happy. Not the fake happy either. Everybody is really happy we won. Winning is all that matters over here. I can definitely relate because that’s all that matters to me. Personally, I’ve found my groove. The first half of the season I struggled because everything was different. I tell my homies back home all the time, “Imagine playing a certain way for 24 years of your life and then having to change that overnight.” I was still scoring points, but it wasn’t efficient as I would have liked it to be. Because I’m not a selfish player, I’m not shooting every ball like people thought I’d be doing. I’m actually looking forward to the rest of the season to see what we can do. I like our chances.
People always ask me about returning to the NBA next year and which teams..blah blah blah. Honestly, I’m not thinking about next year. Me and my agent talk about teams that are interested, but I keep it at a minimal. I feel focusing on the future is harmful. All that matters is the present. The present molds your future. So for now I’m not thinking about the NBA. I’m on a team that relys on me to perform for them and that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll start thinking about the NBA the moment this season is finished over here.
All in all pimp, I’m making the most out of my experience over here and enjoying every minute of it. The living conditions aren’t what I’m used to, the travel is bus only, the language barrier can be frustrating at times, I get homesick here and there, but it’s all good. What’s most important is I’m becoming a BETTER BASKETBALL PLAYER. We practice two times a day (mandatory) and before practice I do a workout and after practice I do a workout. First one in the gym and the last one to leave. Due to the paint being so jammed packed I’ve been forced to work on my jumper more and more. I’ve never felt better as a player. I’m posting up now, seeing the floor better…Also I’m a better person. I’ve humbled a lot. Being away from the NBA/states have really made me put things into perspective. Playing in the NBA is a privilege. I always knew that, but now I really understand how much of a privilege it is. When I was in the NBA I thought I was working hard because I use to practice hard and then get a workout in after practice. That wasn’t shit! These guys practice two times a day over here and still get workouts in after practice. AND they’ve been doing this since they were like 13 years old. Sometimes shit happens in mysterious ways. I really feel that I’m suppose to be over here this year. I’m happy the way things turned out. I’ll be back next year more hungrier than I’ve ever been! Don’t let this fly shit fool you. You watch!
PS. I got rid of those Horace Grant sports glasses too. I’m back wavy as ever on the court.
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