Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks and Myles Turner of the Pacers will alternate on a weekly diary for NBA.com covering life as a rookie, from challenges and success on the court to adjusting to their new world off it. This week: Turner discusses being off the court due to injury, and his unique charity work.
I went to the doctor around 8 a.m., right before shootaround before the game against the Atlanta Hawks (Turner missed 21 games with a fractured left thumb). They told me the X-rays looked good and I was cleared to go. I didn’t play that night, but I was definitely excited. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to play so quickly, but our starting center, Ian Mahinmi, was out and our backup center, Jordan Hill, had tooth surgery when we had a back-to-back against Chicago and Milwaukee so I got a lot of minutes (Twenty-two and 17, respectively).
I had heard rumors that they might send me down to the D-League for a couple games to get my timing back and get acclimated to things. But with the injuries, they just threw me right back out there. I was more than happy to be out there and be producing.
I was ready to go. Conditioning-wise, I felt great and I had so much adrenaline that I really wasn’t tired. I was happy to be back out there. It felt fresh, it felt new. It was my first time out there in a long time. I was really excited, to say the least, and especially when I was at home Thursday against the Bucks. I got a big ovation.
That response meant a lot. The city and the team have a lot of confidence in me and they’re expecting big things from me for the future. To have a franchise and a fan base behind me like that, it just motivates me to get better and work harder.
My timing was a little off, with some of the plays we were running. But other than that it wasn’t that bad. Missing all that time wasn’t necessarily too much of a disadvantage. I actually felt pretty fresh out there. A lot of the guys, or most of the guys, in the league are probably tired at this point. They’ve been going for about six or eight weeks now. A lot of guys’ bodies are tired and I’m a little more fresh.
I’ve been involved in the community during my time away. There’s a campaign I have called WARM. It stands for We All Really Matter. It’s something my mom did when she was younger. She always kept little stuff in the back of her car, whether it was jackets, mittens or water, some little supplies that she could hand out to people in need. She did that when I was younger and just passed it on to me. Now that I have some of the funds to back it, I want to grow it more.
I’ve been putting together little care packages that include Kleenexes, water, a little bit of change, assortments of food, hand warmers, mittens, socks. Stuff like that. Anytime I see a homeless person standing out there on the block, I just go hand it to them. I’m trying to keep WARM going.
Anytime I’m driving and I see somebody and I’m not really late to practice or something, I’ll hand them out. I guess I do it 15 times a week. Some of the guys are really thankful, like, “Man, thank you so much. It means a lot.” I feel like it would be different if I had a camera crew following me around or something. I wouldn’t want people getting the wrong idea about what I was doing. The fact that it’s really genuine, I think they really appreciate and respect that.
Some of them will see my height and ask if I play basketball at all. I’ll just tell them, “Yeah, I play basketball in my spare time,” stuff like that. I won’t try to be anybody relevant or anything like that. But if they know who I am then I’ll say, “What’s up,” and just kind of keep it going. It’s something that I’d like to continue during the winter. Me and my parents are trying to figure out something to do when it’s hotter outside.
It means a lot to me. It means that someone like myself is kind of looking out for people. I know if I was in that position I wouldn’t want people looking down upon me or looking at me because of maybe a couple decisions I made that were wrong in life. I like to keep a positive outlook on it.