NBA Rooks: Diaries … Tyler Zeller

By Tyler Zeller, Cleveland Cavaliers

Brotherly Love

Last Tuesday was fun. We played my brother Luke’s team, the Phoenix Suns. It was weird seeing him in an NBA uniform because he’s been trying so hard for three years to make it to the league, and he finally got there. We didn’t play at the same time, but it was cool he got a few minutes during the game. I was a little nervous about it, but not as nervous as I would have been if I played against him at the same time or guarded him. It was just cool to be playing in the same game. We’ve been beating up on each other our whole lives; we played each other every time we’d go home in the summers and had workouts together, so we know each other’s game very well.

My team was coming off of a three-game road trip. We played the night before in Memphis and didn’t get in until 2 a.m. on game day. I talked to Luke a little bit during warm-ups, but after the game, we saw each other for a little longer. His wife and some of his friends from his school, Notre Dame, flew in for the game. I hung out with them for about 20 minutes before his team bus left.

While Luke and I were playing, our younger brother Cody, who plays college basketball for Indiana, was playing my school, the University of North Carolina. And of course Cody had to beat up on my boys! I made it home in time to watch the second half. I was rooting for UNC, even though I thought Indiana would win. I was joking with my buddy at UNC that they might lose by 20 or 30 points because Indiana is a great team, and unfortunately I was right. At the same, I wanted Cody to do well, and I was proud of the way he played.

The three of us have a very good relationship. I talk to my brothers at least once a week. A lot of times we don’t even talk basketball, just about life and what’s going on. Basketball might get mentioned.

We are very competitive with each other, but also very supportive. I’m very proud of Cody, and very proud of Luke for making it to the NBA. But if we play together, we will each fight to be the best one on the court. The cool part is that our Dad always taught us that it is OK to be competitive on the court, but once the game is over, you leave it behind. We might tease each other afterward, but there’s never any anger or anything like that.

 DVR Working Overtime

I don’t watch a lot of Suns games; my mom usually keeps me updated on those. If Cody has a big game, I’ll either watch it live, if I can, or DVR it. And if my UNC team has a big game, I’ll watch it. Otherwise, if it’s a smaller game, then I’ll get updates on my phone.

I’m impressed with how much my parents keep up with all of the basketball the three of us play. They DVR all of our games. And on Saturday night, for example, they went to Cody’s game, and DVR’d mine and Luke’s games.

They do a good job of staying neutral, though. The last time Luke and I played each other in college, our parents got T-shirts that were split half UNC and half Notre Dame. And then there was another situation my senior year and Cody’s freshman year. Cody was playing NC State, and UNC was playing Wisconsin. So they went to Cody’s game, then drove over to watch me play. They got split T-shirts for that one, too! My brothers and I joke that my parents make it on television more than we do!

Back In Action

My injury last month was just one of those things. Unfortunately, I was injured a lot during college, so I kind of knew how to handle it. I knew I’d be out a week or two, and I used that time to work out individually and get used to my facemask.

The facemask fits my face, but it still feels funny, with the straps and everything. But it allows me to play, and I don’t think I’d be able to play at this point if I didn’t have it. I think I’m supposed to wear it a total of six to eight weeks, so I have about two or three weeks left. It’s not too bad.

I am feeling better. If I could get a streak of five games or so where I played well, I’d be very excited. But we are playing against the best of the best, and there are going to be off nights where you struggle. On Saturday night, I hit quite a few jump shots against Portland, which I hadn’t been able to do the few games before that. It’s a confidence builder; I just have to make sure to continue to do it.

Must-See TV

We are at hotels a lot, so I’ve been watching a lot of TV series. I just got done with “Lost” – I watched all six seasons since this NBA season started! Now, I’m working on “NCIS”; I enjoy those CSI and investigative-type shows.

That’s about it. You can follow me on twitter (@zellertyler). And to learn about the Zeller Family’s basketball program visit

Tyler Zeller is a 7-foot center from the University of North Carolina. He was the 17th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Follow All Ball all season for more NBA Rooks: Diaries …

One Comment

  1. Chuck Fyle says:

    Way to go Tyler. Speedy recovery. Chuck- Summit