Timofey Mozgov has blogged at Sports.ru after the regular season finale where he got to play after the long wait.
Here’s my quick translation of his post in its entirety – up to the last smiley.
Hi! I’ve got something for you that can serve as a small reason for joy. Today – a new blog post and yesterday with an actual play during the game between Denver and Suns. Now I have a second double-double of my career overseas – 10 + 10 in 20 minutes. And it feels good, of course, I will not lie to you))
But I’ll tell you this right away: this is just stats, and I am not going to jump with happiness. I think it’s clear. This is just one game (and not the most important for us) and in fact it was just my second real chance this season. I’ve said it many times that I know what I’m capable of and I’m hungry for the game action. And, as you should agree, double-doubles are so frequent in this league.
So that was another reason why I didn’t even want to blog today. Didn’t want it to look like Tima, who used to be silent, got happy now and when the slightest opportunity presented itself, right after taking the shower, ran to grab his tablet and started to boast about it:)) Well I didn’t do anything outstanding today! And it’s unlikely to change the overall situation too…
So I wanted to wait a little bit – when the first round ends, for example. Or to blog about the season in general. But my team insisted on it. Guys told me that I already had enough reasons to make my readers happy. And there will always be enough time in future to sum up the season. So if you are happy to be reading this, then you should thank the guys as well:)))
The morning before the game Javale didn’t feel very well – he was suffering from stomach pain. But in the end he played despite it. Kosta played too. Almost his regular minutes. So where did my almost two entire periods of playing time come from – only coach knows that.
As it normally happens, nobody told me anything beforehand. The coach just picked me up from the bench in the second quarter, and that’s it. There was no personal assignment either. All in all, I think I did alright in the end. Other than my field goal percentage which could be better, and that I injured my finger.
It’s the thumb, on my left hand. This means, not the shooting one. Luckily. There was some commotion and something happened there when I battled with Haddadi. I can’t even recall what exactly. Even more so because I didn’t feel any strong pain. Maybe it happened because of game emotions, but I kept on running around right until the siren.
It was only in the locker that I saw how swollen my finger was and felt a strong discomfort. Doctors did an X-ray. It turned out it was a fracture. Not exactly a complex and scary one. In this little special cast here I can keep on practicing and of course I am ready to play. During the breaks in gym work I’ll be taking medicine and going through procedures.
In general, I want to say, we had a really good season. It was steady, on the same good level throughout. We have polished our playing style as a team, many among us got the extra experience, somebody has found their place and role on the team, and here is the result. Which is even unique in some way. For example, a 23-game winning streak at home!
Right now we start to get ready for the playoffs. I’m sure it’s going to be interesting:))
And it’s going to be not less interesting during the offseason.
The media are writing about it, you are discussing it and I am asked to comment on the information that Denver can make a qualifying offer to me. What can I say about it? If they are writing it, then, maybe, it may really happen. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Especially since it wouldn’t be like they are going out of their way if they did this. I think the reasons for this are clear.
So, if the offer comes, nobody (me and my agents for sure) will be surprised. But looking at the big picture, no matter if it happens or not, my future will be set after July 1. This is the date after which I will be able to receive offers from any club in the NBA. This is when we are going to see the full picture. During that period we are going to decide what we should do.
As always, here’s a bit of something unrelated to basketball.
I’m tired of the winter!:)) I don’t like it too much as it is. And here – just look at this: it’s April outside, and we still have this going on behind the window.
It’s great that the parents came for a visit for a couple weeks. Mom and dad got to see Lyokha who has grown up a bit, we went to the Colorado mountains, showed them the Red Rocks. So both they and we got recharged with positive energy.
Oh, and at last I got to see a hockey game in Colorado. I used to go to SKA games in Saint Petersburg, then in New York, and now here. If not for my dad, I don’t know how long it would take. And here it all coincided – the practice was in the morning, game in the evening and dad who really wanted to go there.
Our team lost. Maybe because Semyon was injured. Though they are clearly not the strongest team in the league right now. But anyway, my dad was really happy, and I liked a lot too.
That’s all for now! Let’s wait for the playoffs to tip off! See you again!:))
After the trade deadline has passed without any news, Timofey Mozgov was interviewed via phone by the Sport-Express journalist Alexey Bezyazychnyi.
Here goes my quick translation of the whole thing (minus the questions about the national team).
- Of course I badly want to play. From this perspective, a trade was supposed to happen. It would be good both for me and the club, because my contract expires in summer, which means I will be able to leave Denver without any compensation. I don’t know what was on our management’s mind when they decided not to trade me. But if it happened, it means that there were some major reasons for that. NBA is a serious business, where nothing is being done without a reason. I hope I will get an opportunity to show what I can do this season. Otherwise, why keep me on the team?
- It was reported that Miami and Minnesota have contacted the Nuggets about you. Did it really happen?
- Yes, my agent told me about it. And I would go to Miami or Minneapolis gladly. On one condition only – that they would let me play. That the Heat are the main title contender this season didn’t matter to me at all. I am not going to sit on the bench even for a champion’s ring. To me, playing time is more important right now than any team results.
- In terms of team results Denver is doing well: the team is among the playoff eight and is battling for the home court advantage.
- We are really playing well. And to some extent it’s a reason for optimism, because exactly during the playoffs last season George Karl has put me into the starting lineup, even though during the regular season he played me almost as little as he does now. What if history repeats itself? You can expect anything from Karl, as I have already learned multiple times. So I try not to get disappointed because of coaching decisions. If it depended on me, then it would be another thing. Then it would make sense to analyze what I am doing wrong. But in my case, there’s no such correlation. I have to just work and wait.
- How did you spend the All-Star Weekend, during which you could have been traded?
- I didn’t watch the broadcasts from Houston, not even the Rookie game where Lyosha Shved played. My wife has dreamt to visit Los Angeles for a long time, so we used these few days to fill this gap. We spent a great vacation, visited Beverley Hills, met the family of Yaroslav Korolev that lives in California. I should admit that I liked it in Los Angeles.
- Would you be glad if you learned that you don’t have to leave Los Angeles, because you have been traded from Denver to the Lakers?
- (Pauses to think about it). It’s hard to say. To sit on the bench behind the backs of Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol just because this is a great club and Los Angeles is a nice city – I don’t want it. If I was 35 years old, maybe I would think differently. But I am only 26, and I want to play.
- If Denver doesn’t provide this opportunity until the end of the season, will you stay in the NBA or move to Europe as a free agent in summer?
- You can’t rule out anything. But right now my priority is the NBA. According to my agent, there are two or three clubs in this league that are willing to sign me during offseason. We will consider everything and make a decision.
- What’s left is to just wish you to adjust to the demands of George Karl eventually.
- Thank you. I can’t wait myself for the moment he remembers that I’m there. Especially since the season looks promising for the Nuggets. Last season when we pushed the first-round series to seven games, it was perceived as sensation. Now, even if we make it to the Conference Finals, nobody will be surprised.
Too bad that Moz doesn’t get any minutes lately. It is hard for him, because he is a rare super-tall player who wasn’t just pushed into playing basketball, but actually loves to play. We’ll see what the free agency brings him an opportunity to get some playing time, well deserved on effort alone.
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Timofey Mozgov has updated his blog at Sports.ru.
Here’s my quick translation of the entire post:
Hi everyone! It’s nice after all the hard work in practice to eventually return on the court. First in the game against the Lakers and then Atlanta too. A lot of people make jokes already that LA are my “clients”. I guess there’s some small amount of truth to it: I really play against them often and a lot.
And coaching staff backs it up too. I knew it beforehand that I would step on the court. The “headquarters” informed me about it in the morning. Even though they made a remark that normally they don’t like to let players know in advance. But we were about to face such a strong frontcourt that we had to throw all forces to fight it. They told me to get ready.
I’ll say it once again: I was happy to get some considerable playing time after all. But to tell the truth, I didn’t expect to get so many minutes. Even though – once again, as I already said – physically I’ve been ready for a long time. Foot doesn’t bother me anymore; I’m working hard in the gym: both before the team practice and after it.
Though I already blogged about this training regimen that I have. I won’t repeat myself.
I think I played alright. Alright in a sense that no practice (even if it’s very long and hard) can replace a real game for a basketball player. So of course I don’t get to play enough now. From this stems the stark realization that everything could (and should) be much better.
By the way, here’s what I want to note separately. Finally – in my third NBA season – I got to face Howard on the court!:))) Well, it’s clear why they call this strong, aggressive and quick guy the best center there is. He is gifted with all these qualities in abundance. Actually, you already know his strongest traits.
Of course, he did his thing great against us. Let’s call things by their names: he buried us. Though, despite all that, there were some moments where you could realize that even “superman” is human. He, too, can be not perfect, he can feel the pain and it’s possible to compete with him.
But Bryant wasn’t on his best game. And our defense didn’t let him go too. But, as you can see, it didn’t change the general situation…
I got my second real chance this season – not garbage time, but a good number of minutes – during the game against Atlanta. Once again, I knew it beforehand that I would play. Kosta felt some stomach pains in the morning and wasn’t even listed for the game.
As you can guess, having tasted blood again versus LA, my desire to play exceeded even my normal desire that is always strong. So the “hungry and mad” Mozgov was very active under the rims. With all that, I can’t say I had dramatically changed the way I play and so those 13 rebounds came right away. I was just doing my job, and a good deal of what I tried ended well.
For now, to my regret, main thing didn’t work out: using two chances out of two didn’t bring me a stable spot in rotation. So I continue to patiently work hard.
And to finish, here’s something not basketball-related. Lyokha is almost walking on his own already. He’s even more confident standing on his feet now. Alla and I can’t be happier looking at the new games that he comes up with.
By the way, about the other “games”.
We still go out to eat together with the guys. So, here’s a fun thing that we do. When it’s time to pay on receipt, we take all our credit cards and give it to the waitress. She hides it behind the back and we start to pick the “lucky ones”. The last credit card that’s left is used for payment.
Guys are already looking at me sideways – I’m always out during the “qualifying” rounds for probably a year already. I have to counter it, “When I lose, it’s going to be no problem”. And the most frequent client turns out to be Danilo:))
That’s all for now. Keep waiting for the new posts.
P.S. Sorry that I’m not updating my blog often. I don’t want to write about the mundane stuff, and there aren’t many other causes. I hope that it’s just for now. Oh, and by the way – check the comments too, which you can leave now in the guestbook at my website mozgov.pro )))
Timofey has also joined his readers in the comments under the post for the first time and answered a few questions before leaving for another practice. There, he said normally eating together are Koufos, Gallinari, him and “Felipe, one of the trainers”.
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It is well known that this season Denver Nuggets rookies had to dougie on the court after a public scrimmage, but that was only a part of the story.
On December 26, Timofey Mozgov wrote this on his personal blog at Sports.ru:
After the morning practice team captain gave every rookie a gift that was indeed worthy of a captain — these exact backpacks)) And then he used his captain word and ordered that the rookies never part with them during the entire season. Also he has put some interesting content inside, so that the guys wouldn’t be too sad.
The guys, of course, were taken aback at first, almost got depressed and felt terribly shy. And we were cheering them up, teasing them, so to say. I am lucky, after all – nothing like this was happening last year… Or am I not?! I didn’t get a backpack…))
The photo features a Hello Kitty backpack and its content is easily recognizable.
About two weeks later, on January 6th, Mozgov blogged about a Nuggets road trip and wrote:
By the way, rookies are still carrying the backpacks that captain gave them everywhere they go. There are strict rules about it here, so there’s no way to dodge)))
Obviously pranks were frequent in the Nuggets locker room early in the season. Here’s one by the team staff: each international player got a national flag placed next to his name on the locker.
This is a flag of Lithuania, where Ty Lawson was playing for Zalgiris Kaunas during the offseason. Abroad, Lawson “had bubbly guts” the whole time and lost weight, and also had a teammate who would smoke a cigarette after a game.
Hey guys, sorry for the pause – I missed a few posts by Timofey, but he still blogs of course. This one was originally published in Russian at Sports.ru on April 12th.
Hi! Here’s what I’m going to tell you about today. As you know, everybody who loves basketball has to make one very difficult choice sooner or later. Though for some people this dilemma is not that complicated. But anyway, one has to make the choice. And every NBA rookie has to make a decision on a mandatory basis right in the very beginning of his career. Sportswear manufacturers offer a personal contract to absolutely every rookie. I have one too, with Nike. I’m talking about choosing the shoes…
I wanted to tell you about it back in New York, but somehow I never got around to it)) Sorry, I’m making up for it now. So…
It may seem strange to Europeans, but here in the League, all the players, even those who are just starting, have a personal relationship with sportswear manufacturers. No matter how much stardom a player has, the companies consider it their professional duty to make it so that “even that new guy” represents their brand. It doesn’t matter how much playing time he gets and what year of his contract it is, because he’s already a part of the elite club, the NBA. And this already means a lot in America.
For example, I signed my contract with Nike on October 11. And I played my first game, as I recall, only on 27th. But here it’s normal.
Another thing is that the essence of a contract with a superstar and with a newcomer is significantly different. That’s a fact! The higher you climb up the Olympus, the more conditions there are, it terms of exactly money payments. In the beginning it’s an exchange deal. Which means, a player promises to wear Nike shoes everywhere (unless when it’s against the rules set by the dress code of the League, more on this a bit later), and the company to generously equip him for it. Let me explain some of the nuances using myself as an example.
So. Right now I’m not getting any money from them directly. Yes, in my contract there are generous bonuses for all sorts of individual achievement – getting on the list of the top players of the week, top rookie lists, Rookie of the Year award, and so on. And also for game performance: points, minutes, rebounds, blocked shots… So, for almost every positive stat on the boxscore.
Or, let’s say, for the team reaching the playoffs if I’m a part of it. I won’t speak about the regular season, but to make it clear, I’ll use the playoffs for an example. I will receive compensation if the club reaches the Conference semifinals, while Mozgov averages no less than 15 minutes on the court for the entire series. That’s how it works. The regular season performance is evaluated using the same principle. Got it? Everything else is like that.
But regardless of that, I still have an impressive amount of money on my account, which can be used for purchasing sportswear and equipment. Here’s how it works.
Nike has a division called Nike Elite. They set up a personal account for me on their website, and it has a positive balance, that is mentioned in the contract. I’m logging in using my password and may check the stock now. And I should mention that not only sportswear is available there, but the casual clothes mane by the manufacturer too. As far as I know, a well-known American designer designs it exclusively for Nike.
So I log in, check out the goods, make a choice, make an order, confirm it and after a few days I already get the parcel with my order at home. It’s very convenient!!!
Also, I have a so-called Nike ID. Although the service is not available for Russians and other Europeans, but I think you have heard about it a lot. This is the “trick”, when every resident of the States may order personally custom-made shoes, backpacks, clothing or goods with a different “engraving”. By the way, I remember Booker in Khimki played in shoes with his last name on it.
So what’s expected from me? Basically, it’s simple. As it’s easy to guess, I have to wear Nike shoes always and everywhere. I make a reservation about the shoes, because the league directly is sponsored by adidas. And that company is providing us with all the sportswear that we have to wear during every practice and game. The rules only allow us to choose the shoes. And we can also wear something else that belongs to our personal contracts if it’s not mentioned as a “franchise gear”.
But outside the court, yeah: it’s Nike, everywhere, completely, and entirely. Be it a walk in the city or streetball on the court near your place. What do I say, even fulfilling the desire to shoot the ball alone in your backyard)))
An exception, like I said, is the NBA dress code… During all the official activities of the League – including, of course, the games – we have wear civilian clothes. No tracking suits, otherwise there’s a fine! Because of that, like I said before, I have a lot of clothes made for me here. Not so long ago I have visited a very-very large shop (maybe the largest in the world) of big shoes. Right away I bought myself seven pairs of cool shoes there)))
My agreement with Nike is signed for the entire term of my first NBA contract. It also spelled out my mandatory participation in promotions of the company. None of them happened yet. But as far as I know, they have something planned for the summer in Russia, as a part of League activities. So expect me, guys – I think there’s a chance we’ll see each other in May or June already))
But anyway: why did I choose Nike? It was historically established. I played wearing these shoes in Khimki and on the national team. I even have a favorite model. Though they took it out of production some time ago. But now it’s available for orders again for some reason. I don’t know if it’s a special event or something. But I’m happy!
Also, just a few days ago (right before the injury) I tried Durant’s new model. I liked it a lot!!! So I’ll be wearing it for now. It feels great!
There was an offer from adidas too. My American agent has a close relationship with them, and most of his clients wear those shoes. Batum, for example. They also said that they recently signed Kirilenko. So, a second Russian would be very interesting to them – a great PR move! But we decided otherwise.
By the way, back when I was a Knicks player I got to visit one of the largest Nike shops in the world. It’s located in Portland. And it’s very (!) big. I bought a couple sweaters there. Of course, all the prices are almost twice lower than normal. Anyway, that money too was written off my account.
Our equipment manager told me about the shop even before we left for the airport in New York. In Portland they arranged a bus for anybody who wanted to visit the shop, and five guys from our team went there.
In general, players approach choosing the shoes not like in Europe. They are changing them a lot and are always trying new models. Probably from force of habit, I still like the worn in shoes. It’s more comfortable for me. And if in the Old World most of the players love Nike and only a few basketball players prefer adidas, then here it’s not only these two brands, but also it happens that you see Peak and Converse. And Shaq is running around, it seems, in Chinese Lifan)))
Here’s a translation of Timofey Mozgov’s latest post from his personal blog at Sports.ru.
I wanted to tell you about our home win vs. Miami. I even had the title for my blog post ready – “Sunstroke”. And then that thing happened – we played against Detroit. So it didn’t work out. But of course I don’t regret it)))
I did a lot of interviews with journalist out of Russia after the game. My phone was ringing all the time. I barely managed to have a snack))) It will be hard not to repeat myself here. But I’ll try. My emotions calmed down a bit. I’ll try to recall the facts, which I could have forgotten in the heat after the game.
By the way, between phone calls from the media I managed to talk to my parents and my brother and to receive a text message from Kirilenko. Andrei sent me congratulations on the good game. And my fans from Khimki wrote some nice words on Vkontakte (Facebook clone – A.C.). Thanks to you all, my friends. Honestly, it’s very nice to feel your support. SPA-SI-BO!!!)))
During last quarter the 20,000 people in the stands of MSG were chanting my last name. You know, it was really like madness. It’s hard to describe those feelings. To tell the truth, it’s even hard to imagine those feelings. Right now I try to recall how it was, and just can’t believe that it was real. It’s like a dream. You can only feel it when it’s happening.
I was asked if that ever happened before in my life. Did people in the stands chant my name? Yes, it happened: the fans in Khimki are very grateful, and I heard it on the national team too. But, of course, there were not 20,000 fans. I had feelings like this for the first time.
Later I heard that journalists compared me to a bear that broke out of the cage. And a TV announcer even suggested that our arena be renamed as Mozgov Square Garden))) This is funny, if course. Like I say, it’s like a mass madness.
Here’s another proof – I found it on the website of the Knicks. It’s a cool thing – I believe it’s called Mozgov Mania))))
Of course, to be sincere, this kind of support really makes me happy. No less sincere, it really feels good to make your true supporters happy with good game. Because I value them so much. But I perceive this great attention philosophically – staying rather calm. I don’t tend to fall for things like that. I understand it perfectly that after I played like that – I’m high in the saddle. Tomorrow it’s going to be somebody else under the floodlights and in front of cameras. But, of course, feedback like this gives me energy. That’s a fact!
But star fever doesn’t threaten Mozgov, that’s for sure. Only if stats like this becomes a norm for me, then maybe I will think and start to enjoy the extra attention))) But anyway I promise not to turn my nose up))) Speaking seriously, right now there’s nothing to pride myself upon – there’s a lot of work to do. I know that, on the one hand, it was a game that is hard to repeat. Those are good numbers for a rookie. But, on the other hand, I didn’t do anything outstanding. I scored 23 points not in 10 minutes. For this amount of playing time, this is a normal result in the best league in the world. At least, these are the goals I set for myself.
After the game I was literally surrounded by the local media. About 15 journalists rushed to me in the first place. They asked different things. “What do you feel now?” “What was your preparation for this game?” “How did it happen that you scored so many points?” “What’s coming next?”… My English now allows me to talk to them on a decent level. Without the nuances, of course, but still… But what can I tell them? Because actually everything was just as usual.
I didn’t know that I would step on the court that day. The coach didn’t tell me anything beforehand. Maybe he himself wasn’t completely sure that it would happen exactly on that day. Maybe he wanted to play it according to situation. Chandler broke down, Williams was suspended, and Stoudemire had health issues. You can’t envy the coach!
By the way, Stat ended up running for his regular amount of playing time. I think if there were no problems that I mentioned above, he would have played less. Me, I knew that my chances to step on the court improve. Not to 100 percent, but still they were increasing. I was getting ready for the game as normal. I decided – whatever happens happens. I read a book, listened to some music and practiced before the game…
And I kept on thinking that I want to play very much. Journalists counted (I read it in American media after the game) that basically wasn’t on the court since mid-November. That means, I didn’t play in the last 10 games, and the last time that I played for more than 10 minutes was December 4th.
It turned out that was my day. During the game it so happened that Ronnie got two quick fouls. And coach made that decision. I’ll be honest, I was really worried and I felt that I could play and I only needed the time. Because everything was going well at practices. I talked to the coach, and he promised it to me that I would be on the court soon. It just wasn’t clear, when exactly. And here, he kept his promise.
He kept his promise even though I started the game in a way that made me feel uneasy, to put it mildly. Two fouls, a turnover, bad misses. I though, so now he would bench me for sure. But during timeouts coach wasn’t saying anything to me, he was just giving directions to the team and then putting me back in the game.
After the first quarter guys ran to me. They told me not to worry, not to be nervous; to keep on shooting and everything would work out. I braced myself. No, I wasn’t nervous. I just needed the time to feel the rhythm of the game again. Then, after I felt it, I could hit free throws, midrange shots and score in the paint.
9-for-11 – that’s the stat. I even liked it myself. If only I didn’t mess up in the beginning. Should have blocked at least a couple shots too. And I got my share of dunks! One of my slams happened after Danilo scored from behind the arc. That made the score 96:91. After that we never trailed, and I also scored the last two points of the game, shooting from about five meters I guess.
After the game coach said that I did well. I also want to say: thank you, coach, that you gave me a chance and worked with me so much. I was glad to help the team win!
Guys in the locker room patted me on the shoulder. They were also having fun: they spoke with a terrible accent impersonating Ivan Drago – like, the Russian destroyed everyone)))
And when I got to my locker I saw the game ball there. As they later explained to me, it’s a tradition in the NBA that a player gets to keep the game ball after he made his first double-double. I will receive the ball at the next practice – with the date of the game marked on it along with my stats. I’ll be showing it to my kids, my first trophy in the league)))
Near end of the game, to tell the truth, I got very tired. All in all, I was running around without getting substituted for an entire European game. It never happened in my career. Alla and me went to our favorite restaurant Mari Vanna. I drank so much water during the game that I had a hard time eating. And then I didn’t sleep too well – thinking about the game, about what I could have done better and how…
And also I was thinking about the next game: “What’s coming next?» I really want to learn the answer to this question, which American journalists asked me.
This time it’s not a post from Timofey’s personal blog, but an interview from the newspaper Sovetsky Sport. Questions by Kirill Zangalis. (UPD: later I translated Timofey’s blog post about the game too: read it!)
- Timofey, congratulations from all of the Sovetsky Sport readers. It was hard to reach you.
- Yes, my phone got hot from all the calls. The first to call me was my Russian agent Maxim Sharifyanov. This is the man who has supported me really well during hard times. He’s a very jovial guy. Today he started not with excitement but with a joke. He said, “Hey Tim, did they change the rules in the NBA and made the games longer? So this is why you played 40 minutes”. I heard a dear voice and relaxed immediately. Then we couldn’t stop talking. After all, Max and me went through a lot together, and my success is on his part too.
- Didn’t your parents cry with joy?
- What’s to cry about? Mom and dad didn’t watch the game, but after they saw the stats they dialed my number immediately. Then my brothers called. What can you say, it was a family happiness.
- Rejoicing aside… After ten games with no playing time and an ejection in that game vs. Phoenix, it looked like your road in the NBA was getting way too winding…
- I won’t lie to you, I was terribly worried. I felt that I could, that I only needed a tiny chance, that if I got 15 or 20 minutes I could do a lot. But like that, when you get on the court for two minutes in the end of the game, when it’s done… What can you do in that time? But I didn’t lose hope, because I was getting prepared to spend my first season sitting on the bench and learning. Still, everything was going great during practices. Then why can’t I mix it up like that in a game? And then that terrible incident in Phoenix…
- Remind us about it…
- It was a couple minutes before the end of the game. We were losing hopelessly, and D’Antoni put me in the game. I was overwhelmed with desire to prove myself. There was a regular episode where I was fighting to get the ball, and Robin Lopez was doing the same thing. We were battling just like bigs normally do: hard, nearly fouling each other. I was first to get to the ball, but Lopez pressed on my wrist and then quickly moved his hand away and kind of dove with his nose into my hand. So probably it looked like I hit him hard on purpose and that led to a rejection.
- Did the guys support you?
- The whole team was on my side. But what’s to make of it… It was already enough that I wasn’t playing, and there goes this outrageous rejection. At some moment I was close to a breakdown, I wanted to break a TV in my hotel room. But I’m an even-tempered guy. I told myself that there would be another chance, and went back to practicing hard. My girlfriend Alla was supporting me very well. I don’t even know what I would do without her.
- And here’s a chance. Chandler gets injured, Williams is suspended, Stoudamire has health issues. It’s only fitting for you to get to play at last.
- Every cloud has a silver lining. I felt bad for the guys, but in a situation like this one should care for himself first. I had a feeling since morning that it would be a good day. But I wasn’t preparing in any special way – whatever happens, happens. During the warm up I felt energized, I started to feel that give me any opponent now and I would tear everyone apart. And then Ronnie Turiaf received two quick fouls. D’Antoni ordered me to play, like, “your time has come”.
- But you couldn’t have had a worse start. When the ball left your hands for the first time, one could hardly call it a shot.
- Yes, it was a nightmare. I got two fouls, made a terrible shot and committed a turnover. Amare came to me and tried to make me calm down, but I only had a single thought in my head: “It’s over, Mike is going to bench me now”. But he didn’t say anything and I rushed into battle again. I attacked the rim and missed! I rebounded, attempted another shot and missed again! Another rebound, my third shot, and another bad miss!
But from there I got really angry, and from that moment everything started to fall in its place. It was like all my countless misfortunes came to an end. After that I almost didn’t leave the court and made 9 of 11 shots and five free throws.
- It only seemed that the game was easy for New York. You only managed to reverse the situation near the end of fourth quarter…
- It was nice that when the score was tied at 91:91 my friend Danilo Gallinari has started the run. He has hit a three-pointer, and then I rebounded the ball after a mid-range shot by Douglas and dunked it – 96:91. After that we never trailed again, and I scored the last two points of that game.
- In the end of the game people in the stands chanted your last name. As American journalists wrote, the noise could be heard it from other parts of the city.
- I can’t describe this feeling. I couldn’t even believe that all of that was happening to me. Just yesterday everything was different, and there it goes… I can say that I took a deep breath and could finally exhale.
- What did D’Antoni tell you after the game? He was saying good things about you to the media, almost promising to start you in the next game vs. Dallas…
- He praised me after the game and thanked me. Actually all the guys were happy for me. Gallinari said that he was already getting bored of scoring twenty per game and that now it was my turn.
- Do you feel like a hero?
- No, because I didn’t score 23 points in 10 minutes. I played a lot, and these are regular numbers in the NBA. And I’m sure that I will not make a double double each game. It’s just that I needed to believe that I could do it. This is the best league in the world, there’s nothing to top that. So if I manage to earn constant playing time, it would be my highest prize.
- Didn’t Alla faint in the stands?
- She managed to handle herself! She is a very strong girl.
- How did you celebrate?
- We went to the restaurant that we love which I already told you about, it’s called Mari Vanna. The food at that Russian place is just fantastic.
- What did you order: beer or some vodka?
- I have a strict regimen. But anyway, I don’t care about alcohol, even beer. During the game I drank so much water that I couldn’t even eat. I ordered some fried potatoes, shashlik and my favorite Herring under fur coat salad. Before, it didn’t happen once that I wouldn’t finish the Fur coat, but this time I couldn’t do it and the waiters packed it for me to go.
- Is it possible to fall asleep after a game like this?
- I’m not a very sensitive guy, but I was tossing and turning for a couple hours. The game was in my head. I thought about what and where I could have done better. You are never truly content with yourself.
- Is there practice in the morning?
- No, they let us sleep in. But I will drive to the weight room, because I don’t really have days off, sweating my guts out every day.
- The game vs. Dallas lies ahead. Right now you’ve risen high – aren’t you afraid of a painful fall? Some say it was a one-time thing…
- I don’t listen to anybody and I believe only in myself. Yes, they will expect great deeds like this in every game now. But as for me, I understand everything; I know how hard it is to stay on this level. I hope that I will be shooting at the rim like a Kalashnikov. There, Andrei Kirilenko is used to scoring about twenty points in a single game. I have a lot to do in order to improve to that level.
- Maybe the teammates will be looking not only at Stoudamire now, and the refs will stop giving you so much fouls.
- Well, after a heroic deed like this, for sure (laughs). Actually, nothing happened. I’m a regular guy who stays calm about everything. Whatever depends on me, I do, and the rest belongs to fate.
Here’s a translation of another post from Timofey Mozgov’s blog at Sports.ru.
In the NBA, Christmas is always celebrated in a special way and… always the same. The most interesting games are always scheduled by the league to be played on this day, and Americans – players and fans – like it. One group – because they like to be looked at. The other – because they like to look at those who like it)))
It is most likely that these points of contact will intersect on Christmas Eve. This is a family holiday, and basketball is a family sport. All of this makes it one of the best parts of the Christmas entertainment program in the States.
For our part, we were meeting the Bulls. I saw it somewhere that TV rankings have exceeded the results of the previous year by 20 percent for all three of the top games. But I’m sure that Knicks have fulfilled every expectation of the audience.
Still, somehow it seems to me (I wonder why?))) that all the fans were much more excited about our visit to Miami three days later.
Lots of people gathered in the stands there. But I think we played better this time than we did at home not so long ago. Also, I immensely liked the city: I managed to find a little bit of time and tour the surroundings in a car, accompanied by a good friend. It was great!
By the way, the day before we had a company dinner. Everybody who works within the club and MSG were invited to a very good restaurant located about 20 kilometers away from the city. The party lasted about three hours. There was a lot of communicating and greetings. For the entertainment part of the program, there was a magician; he was doing some amusing trick with his cards.
In general, these holidays were extremely hard for the world transport community. You already know it: you’re watching TV; internet users are well informed, you’re browsing.
So, not far from us, the bus with Orlando Magic players got stuck in a snowdrift when it was driving them from the hotel to the Nets game. Law within the state bans snow tires, so sometimes it can be hard. Cleaning of snow is not at its best here too, and when the weather brings a surprise like this…
I was lucky: during this time I managed to reach the practice facility and the airport. Only instead of 10 or 15 minutes it took 40.
Then, regular flights are cancelled. But the situation is better when it comes to NBA planes. By the time our neighbors were still saving their opponents from the snowdrift, we were already practicing at the Heat arena. We were departing from a special section of the airport, where it’s probably easier to keep the runway on operational readiness.
By the way, these days we were waiting for the arrival of Alla’s (Timo’s GF – R’n H) parents and brother. We almost lost our hope but then on evening of 30th they landed. They were waiting for their plane for a long time and had to spend five extra hours in Moscow airport. As far as I know, this is not so long. Right now, it seems, the situation is almost back to normal.
So, the holidays turned out well for us. We will spend it together. Still one can’t really be on the loose: on the 1st we already have practice at 11)) and the game against Pacers on the 2nd – so, no easing of restrictions!)))
You know the most unusual way I ever saw the New Year in? It so happened that in the end of 2008 and start of 2009 I had to just imagine the chiming clock in my head, as I was moving up the escalator in the subway. Later when I got a spot in the starting lineup at Khimki and joined the national team at the European championship, friends would remind me of that case and joke, “So the whole year is going for you like that: you’re climbing up the career ladder”. Turns out the saying was true. It still works to this day )))
I think the moment is right to wish you all a good holiday. I wish you to feel jolly, to never lose heart and give up, follow your dream, that your most cherished wishes come true, that you have warmth in your heart and robust health. I wish you joy, luck and of course wins, and a simple human happiness. All in all, I wish you all the very-very best.
My teammates are joining me in these words. Danilo and Amare were happy to say a little hello to you on New Year’s Eve:
P.S. By the way, these days a Russian TV crew has visited me. They made a good report. For those of you who haven’t seen it – here’s the link. (May have regional restrictions for Russia – R’n H)
Danilo and Amare say “S Novym Godom” which is Russian for “Happy New Year!”. New Year remains the biggest holiday in Russia.
Timofey Mozgov may not know who Wilt Chamberlain is, but growing up he admired Shaquille O’Neal and especially Keving Garnett.
In fact, he even had a figure of a dunking Garnett standing on the shelf in his room, when he was learning how to play basketball at St. Petersburg boarding school. Years after that, on the verge of crossing the ocean Mozgov would name the Celtics as his favorite NBA team.
No wonder when Shaq signed in Boston and Mozgov crossed the ocean to face the greatest big men of today, meeting his childhood idols in person left the Russian giddily blogging at Sports.ru:
“He’s huge, very huge, just unrealistically huge! Even more so in real life than on TV. I think he’s not calling himself an alien from another planet for nothing. I saw Shaq for the second time in my life. Not only that, I’ve played against him, played against Shaquille O’Neal twice in my career! You can tell my childhood dream came true. The only thing left now is to see Jordan))”
“You can’t even imagine how huge Shaq is, – Mozgov told Kirill Zangalis of Sovetskiy Sport. – I’m not sure that I could wrap my arms around him; he’s a real man-mountain. I’ve played against the Greek giant Sofoklis Schortsanitis, and it was impossible to move him. But now after meeting Shaq in person I understand why Schortsanitis goes by the nickname “Baby Shaq” in Europe. Compared to the original he looks like a dwarf.
“It’s funny that Shaquille puts four giant cushions on his seat, – Mozgov told Sport-Express. – Probably regular chairs are too hard for him. Some of our guys also put cushions on their seats, but no more than two. And there he has four! When me and Gallinari saw that, we burst out laughing”.
One has to wonder if Eddy Curry is that Knicks player with two cushions on his seat.
“By the way, Shaq knows how to stay thanks in Russian. He came to me after the game and said, “Spasibo!”. I thought, “Wow”. We shared a laugh. He’s an amazing guy. We are of the same height, but he’s about twice as wide, and his feet are just unreal. They are the size of car wheels. I wear size 52 shoes, and his are… 22 in local measures, that would be I guess 55 or 56 in Europe”
For a starting center on the Knicks, there was little time to get starry-eyed.
“OK, it’s time to put the jokes and emotions aside, – Mozgov blogged. – I just got overwhelmed with my childhood memories. Right now I already look at Shaq as yet another opponent under the rim. It’s not that I’m getting over my head or feeling that I’m ready to battle Shaq as an equal. You just can’t be any other way in the NBA, or this machine will crush you in the paint without even noticing”.
Mozgov told Sovetskiy Sport of the game plan:
“Before the game [Coach Mike] D’Antoni told me what to do against this mountain: to try and make things difficult for Shaq, to try and intercept the ball, and in no way to start pushing around but instead to use my best qualities, agility and speed. And you know, I managed to pull it off. I did exactly what the coach demanded from me, managed to stop Shaq and even stole the ball from him one time, when he lost focus. I pretended like I’m out of contention and then tore the ball out of his hands. After that I felt confident, I didn’t commit unnecessary fouls and played defense. In the first quarter I grabbed an offensive rebound and dunked the ball. I scored my first points in the NBA!”
Facing his favorite NBA player left Mozgov with mixed emotions. He wrote:
“Garnett is great too. He’s also not young anymore, but still plays brilliant at a very high level. Though sometimes he doesn’t fight fair. Of course they overlook what he does, or maybe they just don’t notice a lot of things. Or maybe it’s just my perception because I’m not used to it. But at least when I was watching him on TV I never thought he used tricks like this. By the way, he too is much bigger in real life than on the screen”
Sovetskiy Sport quotes Mozgov:
“Kevin Garnett surprised me. I always admired him and had no idea that he could play this dirty. He was pushing me when nobody was looking, trying to provoke me.
“It even made me laugh – a player of great skills who would use tricks like this”.
Obviously for the last several years Mozgov was too busy with his own season in Khimki. Had he followed the NBA closely, he wouldn’t be as surprised after watching Garnett’s lapses or reading what other players have to say.
And nothing proves that Mozgov is not a basketball junkie than this exchange with Sport-Express writer Slava Malamoud:
- Before the World Championship game Lamar Odom talked about you as a Russian Chamberlain.
- I didn’t hear that, but of course it’s nice. Hey, we played a good game vs. the States in the quarterfinal. In my opinion, better than anybody else in the tournament, except Brazil.
- What do you know about Chamberlain?
- Was it him who shot those neat skyhooks?
- That’s Abdul-Jabbar.
- Then I don’t know anything.
- He dropped a hundred points in one game – on the Knicks, by the way.
- OK, now I know. How did he score – normal shots or all on treys?
- There were no treys then, and he normally missed the free throws.
- So he had to take at least fifty shots. Wow. Did he play alone in that game? It’s mind-boggling.
Good news! Timofey has joined the long list of Sports.ru celebrity bloggers, where basketball is already represented by Andrei Kirilenko, coach Ettore Messina (who writes great stuff in English) and beautiful Team Russia star Ilona Korstin (she writes great stuff in Russian), among others.
I wrote a sort of a translator’s disclaimer in my previous post, and that applies here too. I’m blogging here in my free time, so it’s done fast and wordings can be sloppy. Don’t use is as quotes for in-depth psychoanalysis!
Mozgov’s blog, by the way, is titled “Brainstorm” – “mozg” in Russian means “brain”. Here’s what the Knicks center has brainstormed for his first post:
I’m starting to adapt to staying in the States little by little. Now I can finally breath out. I am happy to fulfill the request by the popular website and I’ll be writing my blog here. This is great! Thank you for the offer! I’ll try not to disappoint you.
A lot of things in America will be new to me. I promise that I’ll share it here what impresses me the most. I think it will be interesting to you to learn the inside works of the NBA together with me. By the way, leave the comments about what you would like to read here. You already know it – you’ve seen our schedule – it’s constant flights here. There’s almost no free time. But I have bought an iPad for myself, and now for just 25 dollars per month I have unlimited internet access anywhere in America)) That’s something!
So, let’s go!
My first week in the States was just terrible. I can barely recall it, all the memories are clouded. I was getting tired like mad! But I’ll tell about it another time.
Right now I’m writing to you from a hotel in Toronto. Recently our first game of the season finished, we are resting and getting ready for the trip to Boston. Friends and acquaintances are calling, texting and sending me emails, congratulating on my NBA debut. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible for me to reply. So, taking advantage of the opportunity, I am thanking them here – thank you very much for your support! It’s good to feel that people at home support you.
We won. It’s cool to start the season with a win. That game was hard. Chandler did well, he became our top scorer. Amare helped a great deal down the stretch. Of course, the team respects him. I think you have seen that during tough moments players turned to him on the court.
I knew it for sure a week before the game that I would get to start. But, as ill luck would have it, just before leaving to Toronto I got a bruised hip. As it often happens, the injury occured in a completely normal situation. Douglas was driving to the hoop and I moved to help on defense. He jumped and crashed into my leg with all his strength.
I saw it that the newspapers reported I was questionable for the game. That was a bit of an exaggeration. Doctors treated me right away. Like at my previous team, BC Khimki, they had everything on hand, right at the arena. They treated me for an hour before the trip, and then for another hour when we arrived. By the tip-off I was back to feeling normal physically.
But emotionally I burned out, of course. I understand it now when I cooled down. Actually, it was more not like burned out but too geared up. You know when I’m like that I can get into foul trouble. So it happened again. I went out on the court, got two fouls, returned to the bench. It felt like I had cooled down, but then I came out again and got another two fouls. Of course I’m angry with myself. But the coach is cheering me up. He told me not to be frustrated, that it was just the first game, that I should just continue working without worry. Said that it’s not a catastrophe that I got burned out this time, staying focused in the future is what’s important. Though he didn’t guarantee me a starting job for the Boston game)) But to tell the truth, I didn’t ask about it.
In general, I am struck by the reaction to game results. I heard about it a lot, that in the NBA the price of each game is not as big as in Europe, but when I faced it in person… It felt somewhat unusual… People lost a game, went through the mistakes and forgot about it. This feels a bit strange. Probably this is how adaptation shows itself…
We’ve recently faced Raptors in a friendly game. I’ve heard it that in preseason games NBA teams try to keep some of their secrets. But it’s hard to tell what exactly was different between that game and this regular season opener: same packed arena, the show, and same serious battle on the court…
I had to guard Bargnani. But in a framework of team defense, not personally. There was a lot of switching and help defense… Coach cultivates playing team basketball in us. And it becomes easier for me each day. Of course, I’m not there yet, but now I understand more of what’s expected from me. And, more importantly, how I should do it, how to switch to American style. Every moment of the game here happens at a completely different speed.