NBA Rooks: Diaries

Rookie Diary, Volume 2: Myles Turner

VIDEO: Myles Turner readies for his first NBA season

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.

Rookie Diary, Volume 1: Kristaps Porzingis

VIDEO: Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis is all the rage in New York

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: Porzingis discusses the transition to living in the United States.

I had an idea about America from the movies and New York is in every movie and everywhere on TV. You’ve already seen it, but you maybe don’t see the way people are and little things like that — the culture. But basically, this is what I was kind of waiting for. It’s been nothing unexpected for me.

I’m loving New York so far. The people are great. Everything has been good. The traffic is kind of crazy. And the people. All that chaos is kind of crazy for me. It’s something new, but I think I’m getting used to it. At first I was kind of stressing about it. When I was driving to the game and it didn’t go smoothly and I didn’t get the exit I wanted to. But now when I got used to it I know what’s going to happen and I’m kind of ready for it.

I’m going to need a lot of time to discover everything. But so far, most of the time I’ve been outside the city where I live and just going to the practice facility, working out and coming home and getting some rest. I haven’t really gotten to enjoyed the city that much. I’ll do that when I have more time.

My mom, dad and both my brothers have come with me. My family’s support is everything and my family’s everything. It’s great having them around. Mom’s been cooking, dad’s been watching basketball. We talk basketball all the time. And both my brothers are always there to support me.

Having my family around always helps. You feel good at home, you’re comfortable and you can focus on what you really need to do on the court. They will make everything else as easy as possible on me so I can just do my job. That’s what they’re here for. They’re really making it much easier for me.

And the cold doesn’t bother me. I’m from Northern Europe and I actually like the cold. I love the snow. I always like to have some snow during Christmas time. The cold weather is a part of New York and it’s a part of me too.

I can’t say anything bad about any of the cities I’ve been to. Toronto was really beautiful. I really liked Washington. Miami. The weather and everything was really good. Orlando was nice. I liked Orlando. I haven’t been to L.A. yet, but so far it’s been a lot of beautiful cities. I just haven’t been out much. I’ll probably have more time to do that as my career goes on.

I would like to do some sightseeing, but a lot of times you’re busy or you’re tired and you just want to stay in the hotel and order room service. But whenever I feel like doing that, I try to do that to educate myself as much as possible about the cities. I’m looking forward to going to L.A. The weather is always nice there and my teammate Sasha Vujacic (who played for the Lakers and Clippers) told me he’s going to take me to some nice restaurants. I’m looking forward to that. My family will come with me. Hopefully we’ll have some time and we can spend it together there.

Rookie Diary: Pacers’ Turner on injury, teammates and … bread sticks

Myles Turner

Indiana Pacers rookie big man Myles Turner

By Myles Turner, for NBA.com

Myles Turner of the Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the Knicks 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.

This week: Turner discusses having to watch much of the start of his pro career because of a fractured left thumb suffered Nov. 11, the support from teammates and coaches, planning to return in early-January … and getting rookie hazing anyway.

When I first heard how long I was going to be out, I immediately wanted to break down a little bit, but I knew I had to remain strong in the situation. These things happen. Injuries are part of the game. I just had to stay up even though I was really frustrated. I realized it’s time for me to reflect and get a little bit stronger in my lower body.

I never would have expected this as the start to my career. Nobody wants to face an injury. I was just starting to get some rhythm going. I just started playing a substantial amount of minutes, about 15, 20 minutes in the rotation. I was doing my role and doing pretty well and building my trust with coach, and it just happened out of nowhere. Of course I was a little frustrated. But once I get back I know I’ll come back stronger.


VIDEO: Myles Turner suffers an injury vs. the Celtics

Everybody has really rallied around me. Paul George, missing almost all of last year, he has gone through more than anybody. He had to miss out on almost a whole year and sit back and reflect. He told me, “Be patient with it, these things happen.” George Hill, he missed a lot of last year too. He told me that he had the same surgery and that it’s something you can come back from very easily. And the coaching staff has been with me too. The whole Pacers organization has been great.

That means a lot. It means that my teammates have rallied around me. I just know that they’re really invested in me and what I can give to this program. Them having my back like that, it definitely means a lot.

I’m there every day anyway. I get to the arena about three or four hours before the games. I still shoot every day. Even though it’s casted up, I can still shoot. I’ve been shooting for the past three weeks now.

I’m hoping to be back right around New Year’s. I’ll probably miss the rest of this month and then get back out there in early January. I know it’s going to be tough after missing so much time, but I’m working on my conditioning right now. The biggest thing is getting back in running shape, moving around the floor. You can do all the treadmill stuff you want, but there’s nothing that can replace being on the floor. I’m getting my wind and my legs back under me. That’s probably the biggest thing, getting my conditioning back up.

I don’t get any sympathy from the veterans because of the injury. I still have to get some bread sticks and donuts for the plane ride. I’ve still got to make sure I get this guy’s soda or do whatever I need to do. They definitely haven’t taken it easy on me.

Yeah, bread sticks. They like the bread sticks. Everybody. I’ve got to get like 30 of them, these special stuffed bread sticks, before the plane rides, plus these special donuts. It’s rough.

I wasn’t expecting any handouts or anybody to feel sorry for me. At the same time, it’s a little tough carrying everybody’s stuff with one hand. Usually Joe Young, the other rookie helps, but he’s in the D-League right now. He’s supposed to come back next week. Hopefully I’ll get some help for the next road trip.

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Gary Harris


VIDEO: Arena Link: Gary Harris

By Gary Harris, for NBA.com

Hey everyone! Trying out my first blog for NBA.com. I feel like I started off the season well in my NBA debut about a month ago. My first minutes came against my hometown team, the Indiana Pacers. I always play well against teams from Indiana, so I knew I had to really step up in front of all my family and friends. I couldn’t believe how many people came to the game! I saw friends I hadn’t seen in years who bought tickets and came to support me, even though they were Pacers fans. I felt really proud seeing so many people in Indiana wearing Denver Nuggets colors and cheering for me, so I knew I had to have a big game as my way of saying thank you.

Getting my first minutes in an NBA game in my hometown meant a lot to me. I have been preparing for my first NBA game since I was a little kid, so playing in front of my family and friends came as a small reward for all of the hard work I’ve put in since childhood. I dreamed about playing in front of the most important people in my life in my home town for years. Seeing my dreams come true definitely was a humbling experience that made me appreciate all of the ups and downs throughout my career.

During our win against the Pacers, I had probably my most exciting play of the year. I drove by my defender and dunked on two defenders in traffic, which made Sportscenter’s Top 10 Plays of the Day. All of the Nuggets fans cheered pretty loud except for my mom. She wasn’t paying attention during the play and missed the whole thing, but they showed her face on TV when she realized she missed a big play. I will never let her live this one down…

We started off the season a little slow as a team, but we’ve picked up the pace considerably the last few weeks. It takes a lot of time to fully gel as a team and get on the same page with everything we do. I think teams will see a completely different Nuggets squad by the end of the season because we have so much room to grow. We have shown that we can compete with anyone in the league. Now it’s time to start building on the teaching points throughout the year so we can see some concrete evidence of progress from the beginning of the season.

Adjusting to the NBA lifestyle definitely takes some time to get used to, but I think I’ve handled it pretty well so far. We travel way more than I ever did in college, so that is also an adjustment. I’ve got a good group of teammates to learn from, so they make the transition a lot smoother for me. Having another rookie (Erick Green) to go through the process with also helps ease the stress a little bit. Knowing I’m going through the same issues with another person makes my issues more manageable because we can figure out solutions together. All in all, the transition is going well, and I’m really lucky to be in this position.

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to read my diary. For updates on everything about our journey this season, be sure to follow me on twitter @thats_G_ and tune in for our games throughout the year. I know we have a lot of great basketball ahead, and I’m very excited to see where this season takes us!

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Elfrid Payton


VIDEO: Elfrid Payton gets the steal and slam against the Sixers

By Elfrid Payton, for NBA.com

Hey, everyone! This is my first blog for NBA.com since getting drafted in June. I think I’ve been adjusting to the new NBA lifestyle pretty well. All of the older guys on my team have been giving me little bits and pieces of advice on how to stay fresh and survive the long season. Taking care of your body becomes even more important when you’re in the NBA. Stretching, icing, eating right and getting enough sleep all make a difference.

The main difference between college life and the NBA life is figuring out the best way to manage my time. I don’t go to class or write papers anymore, so I have way more free time than I’ve ever had before. Staying in a routine becomes very important to accomplish everything during the day. Otherwise, I’ll let the day slip away from me.

The speed of the game in the NBA is way faster than in college. You get away with certain things in college because you’re usually more skilled or athletic than the guy guarding you, but your tendencies get exposed in the NBA. I already started to work on fixing some of my bad habits over the past few months that I can’t get away with at this level. I’ve learned so much over the past few weeks, so hopefully I can continue to learn throughout the course of the year.

Having another rookie with me helps make things easier along the way. Aaron Gordon is a great teammate and friend, so we go through the process together and have become very close. Going through struggles with somebody makes you closer, so it’s been nice to learn with Aaron so far this year. We push each other every day to stay focused and learn as much as we can. As rookies, you can’t let anyone outwork you, so we try to make sure we aren’t getting outworked. We want to be a part of something special in Orlando, and I think our team has a lot of really good pieces and can win a lot of games.

[Editor’s note: Gordon suffered a broken foot last Saturday and is now out indefinitely.]

First Game

My first NBA game came against the Pelicans back in my home town of New Orleans. I decided not to go back to my house and spend a whole lot of time running around my hometown. I wanted to stay focused on why I was there — to win! Everyone asked me how nervous I was to be playing my first game back home. I really was not more nervous during my first game than any other I’ve played. I just wanted to win and start the season off the right way.

Once the ball went up to start the game, all nerves were gone. I definitely enjoyed playing in front of my family and friends, but I wish we came away with the win. I’ll remember the experience of playing my first game in my hometown for the rest of my life. The NBA has the best talent in the world, so being able to compete against these guys every night is a real blessing.

Thanks for reading my first diary. In the meantime, follow me on twitter to get updates throughout the season @elfrid.

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Aaron Craft

Aaron Craft (Jack Arent/NBAE)

Aaron Craft (Jack Arent/NBAE)

By Aaron Craft, for NBA.com

I was really excited heading in to summer league, just to have a chance to play some 5-v-5 again.  You are always a little bit nervous going in to new situations, but practicing really helped me calm my nerves and gave all of us a chance to get to know each other.  After that, it was just getting back to playing basketball, trusting in the work and the practice and just enjoying the game.

I was lucky enough to be able to play with two different teams – the Philadelphia 76ers in Orlando and the Golden State Warriors in Las Vegas.  I didn’t have specific goals going in to summer league, just to get back to playing and let my competitive natures take over.  I wanted to win.

Playing in Orlando definitely helped prepare for Vegas, which is much more of an event, with spectators and announcers, even a hype man to get the crowd going.  Orlando was similar to an open gym type atmosphere where as Vegas was more like a college game.  There was a lot of energy in the arena which is always helpful in giving you a little extra oompf or adrenaline when you’re playing.  There was one game in particular, when we played the Lakers, where the fans were crazy — cheering during free throws and everything.

The most challenging part is the free time.  Basketball is so natural and practice was great, but at 3 pm you’re on your way back to the hotel with nowhere to be until 10:30 the following morning. Of course it’s Vegas, so there is plenty to do, but there is a big difference between what you can do and what you should do!  I mostly went to dinner with some friends – lots of good places to eat in Vegas.

My experience at summer league was a little different from some of the guys who were draft picks.  Playing with two different teams meant two different coaching styles and two different systems to learn.  The other guys know what team they’re playing for and have an added level of comfort in that sense.  I was fortunate enough to get on two great teams with a lot of young players who were unselfish, energetic and really committed to making the team the best, so that made it really enjoyable.

Overall I am very proud of how I played.  I am learning that there is a whole lot more than just basketball that goes in to how NBA teams assemble their rosters, but that is the only part I can control and I know I made the most of the opportunity.  I am hopeful that it transforms into something bigger, but right now even more excited to see my fiancée and my brother who is home on leave from the army.  Every once in a while it’s good to put the ball down, but never for too long!

Aaron Craft is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Ohio State. Look for more “NBA Rooks: Diaries …” all season long on the All Ball blog.


VIDEO: Prospect Profile: Ohio State’s Aaron Craft

NBA Rooks: An NBA dream begins

By Tyler Ennis, for NBA.com


VIDEO: New Suns guard Tyler Ennis talks about his Draft experience

Hi Everyone!

The last time I checked in I was getting ready for the Draft, working out and visiting teams all around the country. I am so excited to be writing this next entry as an NBA player for the Phoenix Suns. My lifelong dream has come true, and it has been non-stop ever since.

Right after I was drafted, I was told the general manager of the team would be calling, but by that point I only had about 3 percent battery left on my phone. Luckily my media escort had a portable charger in his pocket so I could plug in and charge before Ryan McDonough called. It was great to hear from him so soon, about how excited the team was to get me and meet me the following day.

The morning after the Draft I was on a plane to Phoenix with my family. There was an introductory press conference with some of the other guys that were drafted and a lot of local media. We had a few days to check out the city, and the last day we met all the team employees and some season ticket holders.

I had never been to Phoenix before so it was really nice to get to check out my new home, and I really liked it. The downtown area is really nice and there was a good amount of people around. I’m excited to learn everything about the city. Of course it was really hot, but I’m sure I won’t be complaining about that when winter comes around. It certainly will be really different than Syracuse winter!

I also had a chance to meet some of the guys that are on the team from last year. They stay at the gym and work out over the summer so I actually had a chance to play against a couple of them. Some will be at summer league to watch us play. It’s good to know the players want to be here and are always working on their game. We’re a young team so that is really important.

Now I am in Las Vegas at Summer League. We had a mini-camp that started last Tuesday so we had two-a-days for the last few days. It was a lot of learning the system and getting used to each other, but now we’re in to game play and it’s really fun.

I am really looking forward to getting comfortable on the court and with my teammates. It will be fun to see some of the other guys from the Draft and have a chance to play against them on their new teams. Last year the Suns made it to the championships at Summer League but lost, so I really hope I can start my career off right by helping to claim the trophy this year!

Check me out on Twitter @tdot_ennis and Instagram @tdot11.

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Noah Vonleh


VIDEO: Prospect Profile: Noah Vonleh

By Noah Vonleh, for NBA.com

A week from today, I will actually be an NBA player. Wow. This is a lifelong dream of mine and it’s almost impossible to describe what it feels like now that it is about to come true.

The draft preparation process has been exciting, exhausting, interesting, challenging and inspiring.  My favorite part has been the different team workouts and having a chance to compete against some of the guys I played against in college.  Luckily, there have not been any surprises along the way.  I have been watching the NBA Draft Combine for years and I talked to some guys that have gone through this before, so I have pretty much known what to expect.

Now, I just have to finish up a few more workouts and head back to Boston for a few days where I hit another major milestone – getting my license!  Then I’ll be back in New York, getting ready for NBA Draft week.  I have a lot of family coming in, I think there will be over 30 people!  I have been talking to my family members almost every single day through the process, and I am really excited for them to be here to see my dream come true.  My cousin Jeremy was the one who got me started playing basketball, so it will be really special to have him there too.

At the top of my to-do list for the next week is perfecting my draft suit.  I do not want to be the guy everyone is talking about for the next few years because my style was off when I shook the commissioner’s hand. There is a lot of pressure here, but I have a great stylist and few ideas so I’m confident I won’t end up on the worst dressed list.

It’s hard to think about life after I get off that stage at Barclay’s Center, when I officially belong to an NBA team and can start working towards earning my spot on a roster.  I’ll probably take a quick trip home to see my friends for a little bit, but I am really looking forward to meeting with my new team and getting ready for Summer League.

I am excited, a little nervous, and don’t know what to expect, but for now I am just trying to soak everything in and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Follow me as I get ready for the NBA Draft at Draftdreams.com and @draftdreams and on Twitter @noahvonleh and Instagram @Nvonleh.

Noah Vonleh is a 6-foot-10 forward from Indiana. Follow him and other rookies all season long on NBA Rooks: Diaries …

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Tyler Ennis

By Tyler Ennis, for NBA.com

What a whirlwind the last few months have been for me.  I hardly had time to reflect on my freshman season at Syracuse before I was already making one of the biggest decisions of my life — whether or not to declare for the NBA Draft.  I spent a lot of time with my family talking about the pros and cons of my different options, and we decided together the time was right for me to test my skills at the professional level.

It was really tough to leave Syracuse.  I fell in love with the school and had a great bond with the coaches and players.  I am so grateful I was able to play with and contribute to such a talented team, I had so much fun this past year.  Not being there through summer and next year will be tough, but I think everyone has the same dream going into college.  When you get the opportunity to see it through, you have to go for it.

As much as I loved school, I was really looking forward to being to focus on just basketball and nothing else as part of the draft process.  I am training out in Long Island, away from everything, and all I have to worry about in the next month are workouts and getting in shape for the draft.  Every single day I am working towards one goal.

My favorite thing so far has been having the chance to get to know guys I have been playing against my whole life.  There are four others out in Long Island with me – Melvin Ejim, LaQuinton Ross, Khem Birch and Noah Vonleh – and we spend a lot of time together on and off the court.  It’s really nice to have guys around that are going through the same thing as you.

As you can imagine, it does get pretty tiring at times.  We have time to rest, but between travel, NBA team workouts and then three-a-days in Long Island, it is easy to get fatigued.  I really try to balance my body and allow it to get the rest it needs so I can be at my peak performance when it counts.

So now the draft is about three weeks away and my excitement builds exponentially every day.  I’ll be finishing up a couple of more team workouts, then coming back to New York to continue training right up until June 26.  Draft prep doesn’t just happen on the court, though, and I’ll be working with a stylist on my suit for that night.  I have to make sure I’m looking my best when I walk across the stage to shake the NBA Commissioner’s hand!

Keep up with everything I’m doing leading up to the Draft and beyond at Draftdreams.com and @draftdreams and on my Twitter @tdot_ennis and Instagram @tdot11

Tyler Ennis, a 6-foot-3 point guard from Syracuse, was born in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He is projected to be picked in the lottery in the NBA Draft on June 26.

Look for more “NBA Rooks: Diaries …” all season long on the All Ball blog.


VIDEO: Prospect Profile: Tyler Ennis

 

NBA Rooks: Diaries … Reggie Bullock

Reggie Bullock was the 25th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Reggie Bullock was the 25th pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. (Shem Roose/NBAE)

By Reggie Bullock, Los Angeles Clippers, for NBA.com

Playing in the NBA has been my dream since I first picked up a basketball. I have always worked so hard with that goal in mind, and the past four and a half months have been a whirlwind as my dream became a reality.

I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing my name called at the NBA Draft.  All of the hard work was worth it and it felt like I had finally made it.  I could not wait to start my professional basketball career.

My summer flew by.  I moved to Los Angeles, which is so different from North Carolina — everything moves a lot faster here!  After that, I was focused on training and preparing for preseason.  I wanted to make a good impression on my teammates and coaches, so I worked out daily.  I was very focused on my conditioning and played a lot of pick-up basketball against some really great competition. At the end of the summer, I felt strong and confident and ready to officially start my first NBA season.

I was so excited to have the opportunity to wear a Clippers jersey and represent this organization. Going in to training camp felt like I was a freshman again!  I was nervous and knew this time it was way bigger than college preseason. I didn’t really know what to expect beyond that. Lucky for me, I am with a great organization and had a very positive experience.

Our team has some of the best veterans and coaches who really helped make it a smooth transition for some of us newer guys.  Antawn Jamison also played at UNC so we had that in common from the start, and I’ve been watching CP since I was a kid.  I actually played for his first AAU team.  Both guys, and really the whole team, have been helpful with advice on the court and off, and remind me to stay confident and to always be ready to go when my name is called.

I am looking forward to picking up more minutes and trying to do my best to fill in for Matt Barnes while he is injured.  Stepping into his role is going to be challenging, he is such a great defensive player, but I need to just stay confident while shooting and listen to coach so I can contribute to the team. Our goal is to win the championship, but we are taking it game by game, realizing that playoffs and finals are a long way away.  Personally, I am focused on staying confident in my game, gaining minutes, and doing whatever I can do to help my teammates play better and raise a Clippers banner in the Staples Center.  It would also be really cool to play in the rookie/sophomore game at All-Star!