Here’s my translation.
The Kings first showed their interest in Dima in spring, and after he played great at summer camp in Treviso they wanted to use their second round pick to draft him. They didn’t, but they remained interested. Sacramento’s scouts have attended games of Russian national team in Eurobasket qualification this summer. Right now there are talks about signing Dmitry as a free agent.
What is the possibility of Kulagin signing with the Kings this autumn?
It’s 50/50. It all depends on Dima himself. He has to choose what he prefers: to play a decisive role on a strong European team or to fight for becoming one of the main players on an NBA team.
When will it become clear?
I think, before the end of this week.
Ryzhov also talked about his position on Kulagin’s free agency:
If a player wasn’t drafted, like Kulagin, you can talk to any NBA club and at the same time consider offers from Russia and Europe. It is not necessary to jump at any opportunity in the NBA, because there they don’t sign free agents for their potential – you either contribute right away or go home.
NBA is my goal, it is the reason why I play basketball. And I am sure that sooner or later I will end up there. Right now agents are in talks with Sacramento about my role on the team. It is a matter of principle for me what the final offer will be like. If I get guaranteed playing time, I will take the offer. But to go to the NBA and be a benchwarmer there – I don’t see a reason to do it. I don’t want just to make it to the league, I want to play there. I don’t rule out that in order to better prepare myself I will have to stay in Europe for some time longer.
According to your agent, Sacramento’s scouts were impressed by your game at Treviso camp. Did you manage to talk to any of them there?
Yes, I have talked to the scouts and to Pete D’Alessandro, general manager of the Kings. They really did like what they saw in Treviso.
What was the camp like?
We went there with my brother Misha, we prepared ourselves for the event. All of the players – young talents from all over the World – were divided into four teams, and every day we took part in exhibition games and drills against each other. Everything was played five-on-five. Also, U20 national teams of USA and France practiced there too, and in evenings they played against the select team of the event, which I was invited to twice. In one of those game I had great stats and hit the game-winner. After three days of the tournament I was named to the All-Tournament starting five.
Still, it’s a tremendous feeling – to play shoulder to shoulder with teammates who you have every reason to call your friends. It’s been more than two weeks since I’ve started practicing with my new-old team. It’s super! Hi everyone!))
All in all, right now it feels as if I’ve never left Khimki. I still drive the same roads to practices, I enter the same locker room, I step on the same hardwood that I know very well and there I meet people who I know very well…
Sometimes this feeling seems a bit strange to me. As if NBA was just a dream. And now I woke up. But then I see another piece of news about the lockout and it instantly reminds me of, so to say, the essence of my existence)))
Alla and me have already made ourselves at home in Khimki during the summer. But it turned out we’re still not ready for the winter yet. It gets cold outside, and we don’t have any warm clothes at our apartment. Really, I feel myself like an import player!))) Don’t you find it so? Yeah, I’m saying the same thing – I’m thinking about the freezing weather and buying some proper clothes))
It’s just lockout that upset our plans. One time it’s about the season to start on time, and then it’s not. Then they say the talks will last for half a year, then that the whole season will be cancelled… So here we are guessing whether we should bring our warm clothes here or that we could get along with what we buy there. It seems that we’ll be bringing it, after all.
I feel completely comfortable on the team already. I’ve learned every set play; I got to know and made friends with the guys who I didn’t know before. And right now I can say that we have an amazing atmosphere in our locker room! And I have switched from American basketball to European almost completely. There are some nuances, of course, which still demand some extra attention – it’s not automatic yet. Working the screens, for example. Then I will foul less.
All in all, I feel normal physically. But emotionally… It seems like I can do anything almost with my eyes closed (this time it is automatic). But inside, there’s emptiness. A basketball devastation. There’s a colossal mental fatigue after the Eurobasket. And only now, in this new atmosphere and setting, national team players start to “come alive” little by little.
If you are waiting for me to tell you about the Euroleague qualifiers in Charleroi* – then, don’t wait))) This is already something that’s in the past for our club. It turned out as it did, why should we talk about it now? I mean that everything was already said and clarified not once. And not even twice.
And today a new phase of the tournament starts for us. A new one, with a new set of goals. It’s clear that on paper it can’t be done, but inside you want to start it from scratch, and make new history. The only thing that I remind myself about Charleroi is warm weather and… a strange arena, to say the least, where the court was covered with some fog.
Also, for example, during the second game our locker room was located… outside, inside a trailer. It had all the service, but it still was very much like a site hut. And we made our way inside the arena under a shed.
In conclusion, I say hi to Kayumych**! Just like you asked…))
* Khimki lost the qualifier and will play in second-tier Eurocup instead of Euroleague.
** One of the Mozgov’s blog readers/commenters at Sports.ru, check out the original post to see Mozgov’s photo wearing a hat that the fan gave him.
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)))
Right after the basketball extravaganza in Los Angeles I started to prepare a post for you, which I never managed to finish in time. I guess now you understand why. There’s so much hassle going on that I just had no energy to write the last several paragraphs – no physical, no emotional energy left. Now the situation has stabilized a bit so I can go back to that topic.
Some time has passed already, but I decided not to rewrite anything according to chronological order. I’ll just put a label on this post – so to say, “Works that went unpublished. In time”)) So read my original version…
… Let me try and guess. You are waiting for my impressions from the All-Star Weekend in Los-Angeles. I understand that. But to tell the truth, at that same time I had my own no less fabulous weekend in Vegas – me and Alla… got married!!!)))
We didn’t make a secret of our plans, but didn’t want to spread the news either. So right now you will be among the first to learn about it. It looks like this blog post is a real media excusive))) So, I’ll share my impressions with you.
I’ll tell you right away: it turned out to be really fun! Because it was spontaneous. Now, of course we were going to Vegas with a goal set)) I proposed to Alla about a month and a half ago. At home, but in a very romantic setting. So, the way it has to be done))) And we wanted the wedding to be beautiful too. But…
We’ve checked in at the hotel. Talked to the concierge and asked for the addresses of churches. We went to check it out, but weren’t excited about any of them. We came back to the hotel. We have explained the situation and in response heard that everything could be done even right there at the hotel. Of course we were really happy! We’ve checked out a couple more halls and chose an open place with the summerhouses. But that was when the most interesting part started)))
Having decided to run the ceremony the next morning, we started to ask about the documents. In a few days Alla had a trip to Moscow already scheduled. So we needed to get the marriage certificate right away. And here’s what they told us. “If you marry tomorrow, on Saturday, there’s an off-day on Sunday. Then, on Monday, they will send it to you to New York by mail. It will arrive in about ten days or so”. They said it used to be possible here in Vegas to marry in one day, anytime 24 hours a day. But later that rule was canceled.
Of course it didn’t suit us. There was only one way out of it. It turned out, if we carry through with everything today, then we can get the cherished document tomorrow. Literally abandoning everything, we jumped into the limo dressed right as we were. Me – in a tracksuit, which I was wearing to look around the city. Alla – not in a white dress either)))
I guess Alla didn’t dream of her wedding since childhood to be like this)) But, trust me, to plan everything, to make it more thought-over here, in the NBA, with those off-schedule of unplanned events would be just impossible. Any time you can be called up to another clinic or a PR event. So, if you have a day off it can be like you don’t have it. So in the end we were happy that we didn’t marry in New York on the go, between the games, but made a special trip somewhere and have this ceremony.
By the way, we were never going to bring a big crowd. We wanted to spend a weekend together, just two of us. So people who knew about the wedding were only the closest friends – parents and a few friends. Of course, during the off-season we are going to bring together all of our dear guests in Russia. We really want to party and celebrate this event the way it should be done. Only we don’t know where exactly. Alla’s friends and relatives live in Moscow, and my parents in Krasnodar. So we’re thinking about it!
So we jumped into the limo and went to that exact chapel where Michael Jordan, Bruce Willis, Frank Sinatra, Demi Moore, Britney Spears said their vows… We started to take pictures. And then… Of course it couldn’t go without any adventures now – camera battery ran out. Somehow we managed to make a couple shots. The rest, we had to take pictures with a mobile phone))
The ceremony itself has reminded us a lot of… going to a McAuto!))) Right in our limo we drove to a certain entrance. The driver has put down our window. There a special guy was already waiting. I need to say, that that character (he’s definitely not a priest, but it’s hard for me to call him any other way) had a remarkable appearance. But he great country of United States has given him the necessary privileges, so he looked inside the window and proclaimed us to be wife and husband! What do you want – this is Las Vegas))) That’s how!)))
Later we’ve left the car eventually, to take pictures on that nice alley. By the way, we don’t have the rings yet. Only Alla – the one from the engagement. We’ll make them for sure a bit later.
Then we managed to walk around Vegas a bit. During those days we went to Cirque du Soleil and tried the famous rollercoaster. There is one, the one that is really high and goes right through a hotel. We’ve checked the legendary casinos. Even tried it to feel what it’s like to be a gambler))) Of course, we bet only a very small amount. Maybe that’s why we ended up making a whole of 700 dollars))
If I knew that a surprise like that trade was lying ahead, I would go from Vegas right to Denver… (((
But we have returned to New York and went back to consulting with the lawyers. By the way, their services here are terribly expensive! First, they are settling all the paperwork so that our marriage is recognized everywhere in the world. Second, Alla is taking my last name. Only she will do it in Russia, because in the US last names are not declinable. So in order for her not to become Alla Mozgov we will go through this procedure at our homeland.
By the way, thank you very much for he greetings – I’ve read your comments under the news piece! See you soon, friends. Your really grown-up, family man Tima Mozgov)))
This was posted just a few hours before Sunday’s game. The original title of Timofey’s blog post at Sports.ru is “-2” and “+8” or Life after a Double-double.
Once again, please keep in mind that I do it just in my free time, and really quick too – so don’t pick on the wordings too much.
And, multiple closing parentheses is the way Mozgov puts smileys.
The hype is over, passions cooled down, life goes on. Everything is back to normal, and not in a worst way)) Yes, the game vs. Dallas wasn’t impressive (especially after the double-double that preceded it), but still I got some necessary experience. And after that we went to Philadelphia…
But first I’ll answer your questions about the two episodes in the game vs. Detroit that interested you the most, judging by the comments under my posts.
First one. When I was inbounding the ball and committed a turnover and later talked to Felton about something. That was regular talk on the court during the game, but it didn’t concern that one mistake of mine. I was saying that we should see each other on the floor. We talked about an episode that happened a bit earlier, when Raymond made a pass, which I didn’t expect, and basically there was no way I could see it.
And that turnover, by the way, happened for a very simple reason: just a flaw in the game because of bad execution of Knicks’s schemes. After a scored basket we try to put the ball into play quickly. In those situations the playmaker runs along the baseline and turns his head so that he can see where the ball is going to be thrown in front of him. So I passed the ball like during practices, but it turned out that he didn’t look.
Second episode. It seemed like during the last seconds I was asking for the ball to shoot a trey. To be honest, I don’t remember that, but I wasn’t going to shoot from behind the arc, that’s for sure.
So it’s like that, friends! OK, moving on.
During the home game vs. Dallas fans didn’t chant my name anymore and didn’t ask the coach to put me in the game. Though when I was about to leave for practice some guys near my home shouted «O, Mozgov, the good game!» (as quoted by Mozgov – A.C.). In the gym, guys reminded about “23 + 14”, but not as before, just did it on the go. So there was nothing special. And it makes me feel good. It’s enough already, time to move on.
By the way, the ball is not ready yet. When they make it, I’ll try to take a picture of it. So you’ll see how it looks.
At practice coach didn’t say anything about me either. But, of course, I had an idea and lots of hope that I would play vs. Dallas. I entered the game, but I almost didn’t guard Nowitzki. Oh, it was hard for his opponents. Everybody knows how strong and skillful Dirk is. He is a super basketball player. He can both use his strength to post up, or make some phenomenal shots.
Not everything was going for me that day. But it happens. It’s good that I didn’t make stupid mistakes.
But in Philadelphia I satisfied my heart’s desire. I leaned it from the media that it became known the day before that my time would be cut. Like, Chandler was coming back and coach said that maybe I wouldn’t play at all. Anyway, I knew that most likely I would get to play. Still, that I played 20 minutes, it was a pleasant surprise. Maybe if I stayed on the court for about 40 minutes I would get my second career double-double. Because I was only one point and three rebounds short of it))
When I dunked on the break, I though Ronny would jump out of his pants. He is always supportive and is happy when I’m doing well. During practices he’s playing tough and nobody gets a break, me included. But during the games he supports his teammates sincerely. I think he’s just doesn’t seek some incredible amount of playing time no matter what, so he doesn’t see competition in me. Coach will always find a way he to use him, because he’s such a great player. And like I said, a very cool guy.
All of my five first rebounds came on the offensive glass. Two blocked shots (one of them on Brand)))… Those numbers along with the efficiency rating of “+8” were the best on the team, despite the loss by just two points.
I was thinking about what has changed in my game to this day.
The schemes are the same. The goals are the same too. Only the nuances are a little bit different. I rarely rebound on the defensive glass, There, my goal is to box out. On the offensive glass – why box out? So I’m just crashing the boards.
Right now I’m playing a bit closer to the rim, the coach allows me to do that. Or, to be more precise, he allows me to decide more depending on the situation. But, of course, within the Knicks’s schemes.
Also, we are constantly watching my game tape with one of the coaches. I’ll be honest, it’s really helps! Later you can analyze the moves and try to see all the other possible ways that episode could play out. For the future, so to say. Results of this work have already helped me on the court many times.
There was one interesting moment. After the Sixers game it so happened that I had a conversation with one guy in the stands. It turned out he’s collecting basketball cards. Just imagine: he has 42,895 photos in his collection! Some of them are very old. Of that number, 2500 were signed “live”. There are some devoted basketball fans!!! He said that he has my card too, though he didn’t have it with him. He promised that he would bring it next time. And I promised that I would sign it.
Here’s one more thing that I want to tell you about. Today I wrote this phrase several times already, “I felt that I would get to play”. I guess it can lead to more questions from you. You already said that you find it strange that the coach talks about our roles on the court, but we don’t know anything about it.
I’ll explain. Coach rarely discusses with us anybody’s personal future, game-wise. All the more, he doesn’t do it before every game. But he’s much more willing to do this when talking to the media. I guess the nuances of the NBA and the coach’s profession concern working with the media too. For example, I have just learned it from journalists that I should start in our next game vs. Philadelphia – because I wasn’t too bad playing against Brand on defense.
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.
Here’s a translation of another Timofey Mozgov’s blog post at Sports.ru, originally published in Russian on January 22.
So, finally, my friends, I get to the topic which you’ve asked about like 20 times already – the practices. Here in the NBA a lot of things are different than in Europe in terms of preparation for the games. This is a completely different world. There’s a lot to be surprised with, a lot to learn and a lot to strive for.
On the verge of joining the NBA I had different thoughts about it. I thought about the things that I already could do in basketball (if I couldn’t, I don’t think they would offer me a contract))) and in what way I could use it there. I though about which exact things I still had to learn…
In reality it turned out that I had to get used to a very specific rhythm. It’s not so much about exhausting practices, but more about keeping yourself in perfect shape during this dizzying marathon of a season, all while obtaining new skills within the team.
Do you get it? Without any doubt, this knowledge is very useful. On the one hand, you work within the team and you have your responsibilities: practices and games. On the other hand, you’re absolutely not required to practice more than it’s scheduled for the team. And, considering the crazy schedule, it’s not so much practice time – one time a day, from one hour to an hour and a half. With that said, you have to (it’s not just preferred, but you exactly have to) meet the extremely high requirements it terms of shape and understanding of the tactics.
Of course, for you to reach what you “have to”, the club provides you with everything: practice facility, skilled trainers, an individual practice plan… But the personal responsibility here increased manifold! While in very comfortable environment, you have to learn how to be a real professional – to be responsible for yourself.
To make it even more clear, let’s use the examples.
The team has done the main part of practice work before the season even started. We were learning the set plays and did a lot, a lot of running. We’ve analyzed the defensive system, its main principles and specific elements. So we went through the offensive schemes and also slightly adjusted physically. I put it exactly this way, because what can you do in just five days of training camp? That’s right, the team was getting in shape for less than a week.
Of course, knowing that, players came to the training camp already in good shape. Everybody was getting ready for the season on his own, according to his individual plan. Of course somebody may have used a summer schedule made by a personal trainer or a trainer within the club staff. Somebody just relied on his own experience.
Right now we have these so called “working practice sessions” about once every two weeks. They last less than two hours. During those practices we have full-scale five-on-five scrimmages. For the rest of the time the team… goes over our set plays and analyzed the opponent’s offense. Like I said, it takes an hour and a half tops.
We go to the gym, warm up, and then we work on tactics and then on shooting. As team leaders work to make their shot better, players who don’t play much, they scrimmage. Normally it takes 20 to 40 minutes, with 6 or 8 players participating.
When we have back-to-back games, practices are even lighter. Like I said, sometimes we don’t practice at all. But normally after lunch (which also serves as a breakfast, because we often arrive at night) we go to a special hall at the hotel (like a conference hall). There, a basketball lay-out is already marked on the floor. So there we walk (I mean, don’t run) and go over our set plays again. For about 20 minutes I guess. And then we rest. Those who need it, they hit the workout room.
I have to say that a lot of players want to go to the workout room. Because, I’ll repeat myself: your physical shape depends on you in a great way. Of course nobody is dying under the weights there. But everybody knows exactly what he needs to do.
So, this is how a 20-minute team workout is just perfect in terms of time length. I know it sounds weird when you’re not used to it. But when you look at the results, it’s a fact. An unquestionable fact.
Of course, at the same time coaches try to teach us something new. How? I’ll blog about it in a few days, I’ll tell you about my individual practices. By the way, you’ve asked about my numbers in the weight room. So, my record for bench press is 268 lbs. But I’ll talk about it more a bit later.
To sum up my impressions. All in all, I can’t say that practices here are harder than at Khimki. More likely, it’s on the contrary. There we had both two-hour practices and two-a-days. But in the NBA, like I’m sure you got it, there are other nuances, the whole process is different and there are other difficult parts.
See you soon!