By Jared Cunningham, Dallas Mavericks
I have had a lot of excitement starting back on Draft night in June. Right away, the Mavericks organization and the fans gave me a very warm welcome. I had a chance to meet some of my teammates early on and get a feel for the city, which has very nice weather.
I found a place next to the arena, so I don’t have to do much commuting. I moved my sister Jade out to Dallas with me for a couple months to help me get settled. We had to do a lot of shopping — buying furniture, cooking utensils, glasses, those kinds of things. I’m a styrofoam plate and cup kind of guy, but I guess it was time to buy glass.
I’ve been learning my way around the Dallas area, and sometimes when people recognize me, they tell me how excited they are to see our team play. It’s important to me to have that community bond, so I look forward to interacting with the fans more.
Rookie Transition Program With The Assist
There are a lot of new things to learn and prepare for as an NBA rookie. I am glad we had the Rookie Transition Program this past summer, which helped the rookies a lot. I learned a lot during those few days, and took a lot of information away with me. We had a lot of great speakers, and one thing they talked about was remembering that we represent our team; it’s not college or high school anymore. It’s a business and your livelihood, so you have to take it seriously.
They also talked about being smart with our money. Once you start getting paychecks, they encourage us to save. When you make it to the NBA, it’s easy to want to buy all kinds of stuff. But, in the end it’s about saving and learning how to say no.
We just got back last week from our NBA Europe Live Tour. The entire experience was awesome! I got to see another side of the world! It was my first time flying on the team plane and making the trip with my teammates. Unfortunately, we went 1-1 overseas, but I think we all worked hard.
First, we went to Germany. Right when we got to the airport, people recognized us as the Mavericks. When we got to the hotel, everybody was waiting outside to see Dirk Nowitzki. For a rookie, it was nice to see all the love that NBA players get when they go to their hometown like I saw with Dirk in Germany. I remember what it was like being a fan and wanting to take a picture with a player, so it was it was pleasant to see how he reacted to the fans – so humble and willing to sign autographs and take pictures. A couple fans wanted to take a picture of me, which made me feel good. And after going overseas, I have a lot more followers on Twitter now!
In Barcelona, we went to a Real Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer game. It was one of the best events I’ve ever been to — about 100,000 fans and it was crazy…a real, live, good game.
I scored seven points in our second game, but unfortunately we lost that one. Darren Collison had said to me, ‘Be ready when you hear your name called.’ I took that advice. Once I got on the floor, all the nerves went away. I just hooped and played like I know how to do.
Back On U.S. Soil
After playing in Europe, we learned that we have a lot to work on as a team. I feel that everybody put out a great effort, and it showed on the game tape. We got back to Dallas on Wednesday, and have had a few hard and competitive practices since then.
As a team, we are going to be one of the best defensive teams in the league if we execute and communicate. And that will translate on offense. It’s been great joining with the other rookies and being around the vets. Once we get more and more comfortable with each other, I feel like we could do anything out there on the court.
Individually, I am working on gaining the trust of my teammates. As a rookie, I have to prove myself. I am learning from the coaches and veteran players everyday, and am ready to do whatever it takes to help our team win.
We have preseason home games tonight and Wednesday. My body feels good, and my head is ready for the game. Just to get on the floor in front of the home crowd…that’s exciting.
Cast Your Vote!
I’m paying a lot of attention to the upcoming election. I take a special interest in it because I played Oregon State basketball for Coach Robinson, who is Michelle Obama’s brother. I went to the White House with our team three times while I was in college, and had the chance to hang out with the First Lady and the President in his office and out at some of our community events. They also came to watch our games when we played in the Washington, DC area. I will be voting!
Jared Cunningham is a 6-foot-4 guard out of Oregon State. He was the 24th player taken in the 2012 NBA Draft, selected by the Cavaliers and traded to the Mavericks.
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