We finally won our first game and it happened to come in front of our home fans in Minnesota. We had a lot of guys step up in the win. Rashad McCants had 30 points, Al Jefferson had his normal dominant performance and Antoine Walker had a huge game in crunch time to put us over the top. Marko Jaric made a ton of hussle plays. I wanted to talk a little bit about the game.
We were in Turkey for training camp which was going long and hard. Late in one practice session, Rashad McCants stole the ball and then took off down court for a dunk. All of a sudden, he stopped dribbling and staggered off the court in obvious pain. He strained his hamstring and then was on the injured list for a few days. Even earlier this season, he tweaked his ankle and had to sit out. I watched Rashad work tirelessly in the training room to get healthy to come back ASAP to help the team. Rashad is mentally tough and has a huge heart and he showed that once again tonight. Rashad is a team player first whose intelligence about the game reminds me of my old Lakers teammate Robert Horry.
In all my years of playing basketball you’re always taught not to go for pump fakes of opposing players. Especially when an opponent is trying to post you up, you never want to jump in the air to block the shot. It just puts you too much at risk for a foul. I’ve only been on the same team with Al Jefferson for two months, but I have never seen a post player get so many of his defenders up in the air and then just drive past them. Each game, I know it’s going to happen that he gets his post defender jumping in the air like a pogo-stick. The other day in practice I told Al, that I’ve never seen a player get so many defenders to go for his fake as does. Al told me that he learned his fake from Paul Pierce and their years together in Boston. Tonight was no different as Al got people in the air and utilized his signature, go-to move of the soft jump hook that seemed to be unstoppable.
Another old Celtic really stole the show in tonight’s game. We got Antoine Walker in a trade from the Heat and he was huge for us. I’ve enjoyed practicing with and against Antoine in practice every day. Antoine Walker is a three time all-star in the NBA and he gives so much energy and attention in practice every day that it’s kind of revitalizing to everyone on the team. I knew Antoine Walker the three point shooter, rebounder, great post up player and ball-handler, but the Antoine Walker I didn’t know is the player who knows every defensive rotation like the back of his hand. In the fourth quarter tonight Antoine floated a difficult 10 foot floater over the Sacramento defense that brought the crowd to their feet in the Target Center. When he came to the bench a fan yelled out, “Antoine, let’s see the shimmie!” I looked over and I saw Antoine smile and then just chill. I think he’s saving the shimmie for bigger and better things for the Timberwolves this season. Having a true veteran like Antoine on our team helps everyone from 1 to 15.
For a little more background on Antoine, (and the origin of the shimmie), you can go to his official website at
Well, that’s all here. I should receive the medical clearance soon to play. When I get it, I hope to earn my way back onto the court to help my team in any way possible.
Today we had some time off, so John Edwards (My current teammate who has played for the Hawks and the Pacers) and I went over to see some sites here in Istanbul, Turkey. The coolest one to me was the Hagia Sophia Mosque. For one thousand years, it was actually the largest Christian Cathedral in the World. Then, it was taken over by the Ottoman Empire (I learned all of this from our guide today!) and converted into a Mosque. Today it is a museum! So it’s been a Christian church three times (Replaced once then burned down a second time, finally rebuilt a third time), a mosque, and now it’s museum! How cool is that! The Muslim emperor at the time of conquest ordered that the many Christian mosaics not be seen in the Mosque. But instead of destroying the incredible mosaics, it is said that perhaps his appreciation of art caused him to cover them with plaster instead. Now, that it’s a museum, Istanbul has peeled off the ancient plaster and many of the mosaics are fully intact and incredible. All of the Islamic and Christian influence can be seen in the building! Then we ventured down to a giant underground water tank (Cistern) that was like a mini reservoir to hold water for those many times when Istanbul was attacked and seiged over the centuries. It was awesome!!
I am very excited about our team this year. Gerald Greene Jr. one of my new teammates here is an amazing talent. Obviously he is the slam dunk champion from the NBA from last year, but he does so much more than that. His energy is huge for our team and he’s vocal. His three point shot is good and gets better every day. Sebastian Telfair game him the perfect alley oop pass the other day in a game and when I saw Gerald go up and catch that ball it was in a place that only a few NBA players could get to.
Juwand Howard has been a great addition to our team. He’s really a guy who has kind of done and seen most everyting in the game of basketball. He’s a guy who kind of talks to everyone on the team, 1 through 15 and helps them know what they can do to help the team. The fact that he can shoot the ball from deep differentiates him from a lot of other “bigs” in this league.
OK, I’m out of here and off to try to sleep. I’m not sure…I got one hour of sleep only two nights ago so I definitely need some rest!! Maybe it was the jetlag!
Trivia: From Wikipedia:
Hagia Sophia is featured in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love where Bond’s lover Tatiana Romanova slips Bond small blueprints of Istanbul’s Russian consulate where Bond needs to steal the Lektor communication device. The Hagia Sophia is also seen in background shots in the 1999 James Bond film The World Is Not Enough.