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Timofey Mozgov and the Knicks wish you a Happy New Year

January 1, 2011 Comments off

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.

Garnett and Shaq made Mozgov laugh, for different reasons

November 1, 2010 1 comment

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.

The real Timofey Mozgov’s blog

October 29, 2010 2 comments

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:

—-
Hi friends,

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.

Timofey Mozgov on his foul trouble, Canadian visas and beer

October 29, 2010 1 comment

Note: I’ve checked some message boards where people commented on my previous translation, and felt the need to ask everybody not to read too much into wordings. Thing is, I don’t get it firsthand, and while in US journalists treat quotes like quotes – so broken English of international players finds its way into newspaper articles – in Russia writers always tend to “beautify” the speech a bit. So this was likely translated twice, first from Timofey’s words into Russian of Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy and then by me into English with some rules broken and a share of word for word translation – I’m trying to get it posted before the next game is played, so it has to be done really fast. Please just keep in mind these aren’t the “quotes” quotes – Alexander Chernykh.

Kirill Zangalis of Soverskiy Sport was the first to reach Mozgov when our rookie logged onto Skype while on the plane to Boston. Kirill wrote that he could hear other Knicks players laugh and joke in the back, all in good mood after the team had won the opener. But Timofey, even though he tried to hide his sadness, clearly sounded sad:

On foul trouble:

Of course I didn’t want to spend my first official game like this. It’s strange, but I wasn’t nervous at all. I’ll say it right away that I didn’t see much difference between the season opener and our preseason games. The stands were filled with fans, there was same number of timeouts. Only the [pre-game] show was very colorful, that’s the way to mark the start of the season. But it’s hard to impress me with that too. Sometimes in Russian arenas we had shows that were just as good. So the situation was normal for me, my knees weren’t shaking.

Then everything started to happen around me at a wild speed. I can’t even recall right now how I managed to get two fouls so fast. First call was controversial; I got it while battling under the rim with Andrea Bargnani. The second one also happened in a crowd when everybody was pushing around. In three minutes I was benched.

I won’t lie to you, I was frustrated, but didn’t dwell on it. I was pulling for our guys. It was very important for us to win the first game…

At the start of third quarter I hit the court again. But everything went by the same scenario. Four minutes on the court, two fouls and the benching. But it’s just the first game for me in the best league in the world, and I’m sure everything will be all right.

Remember how I played my first official games with Team Russia at the European championships a year ago. I fouled out from each of my first three games. Something like this happened in BC Khimki too. It will go away. It’s important that head coach Mike D’Antoni showed his support. He said, “Tim, don’t fret. Just keep on working and it will be all right”. He assured that nobody intends to take me out of the roster.

Tim’s fancy new Canadian visa

It was my second visit to Canada and I didn’t have any visa problems before that. Our plane landed less than 24 hours before the game. Everybody quickly went through the passport check, but I was stopped. For a long time, they were trying to figure out how I managed to get to Toronto a week ago. We had to go to another terminal where the talks went on. The result of that was banal: we dished out 200 bucks for a visa and I got one for a year.

When I arrived at the hotel I was feeling terribly sleepy, so I just checked the news on the web for a while and went to bed. We had a light shooting practice in the morning and then there was free time before the game. To tell the truth, I really wanted the game to start sooner, maybe that’s why I burned out a little bit.

Life on the bench

It’s hard to sit on the bench. I really wanted to jump on the court and help the guys, because it was a close game. My best friend on the team Danilo Gallinari ran around for almost 33 minutes and played great. He scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Right after the win he gave me a hug and said, “Cheer up, Timmy, everything’s just starting. Don’t feel depressed, that’s the main thing”.

But there was no time to be depressed, I had my head in the game all the time. And during timeouts fans wouldn’t let me get bored. A guy in an enormous turban, which the Sikhs wear if I’m not mistaken, impressed me the most. That guy was making a show, never stopping his shouting, dances, clapping and singing. And the fans that were sitting very close to the bench would reach out and offer beer to our reserves. Guys would laugh and point to their water bottles, as to say, “we can’t”