Hey everyone, I just recently got back home to Dallas from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. Man the flight was soooooooo long! 2.5 hrs from Las Palmas to Madrid and then 11 hours from Madrid to Dallas. Luckily for me I had the same flight to Madrid as my teammates Spencer Nelson and Zabian Dowdell. “Spence” was actually on my flight to Dallas also as he connected to Salt Lake City so that was cool to have a travel partner the entire way. It was even better that I got to experience my first, first class international trip. I don’t think there is a big difference between business and economy on domestic flights, but internationally, the difference is huge. You guys should have seen me on the plane. I was excited like a little kid on a school field trip! The seats had remote controls to change every different angle of how the seat was positioned from the head rest all the way down to your feet. They kept feeding us though out the flight. We had 2 full meals with all kinds of things in between like ice cream sundaes, cookies and milk, fresh fruits etc. They even gave us champagne upon boarding the flight! I don’t really drink champagne but it was still cool. As you can probably tell, I get excited about silly little things like that though. I understand that I am blessed with opportunities because of my abilities and I appreciate all of the small things that come with it.
~ Saying Goodbye
It was pretty bittersweet saying goodbye to the team. On one hand I was excited to get home, see my family, rest, and just clear my mind. On the other hand it was very difficult to bid farewell to my teammates. Some of the guys are not sure where they will be playing next year and even with the guys that signed to Gran Canaria for next year, nothing is ever guaranteed in this business. Things can change so quickly, new opportunities, changes of heart, and also injuries. So to be honest, none of us know 100% for sure where we will be next year. Most people will never quite understand the bond a basketball team shares. Those 12 guys leave their home and are put in a foreign environment in efforts to achieve one goal and thats to win a championship. The dynamics of the situation create an experience so unique that even if you are on a team with a person you wouldn’t usually associate with, you still create a special bond. I wish all my teammates from this past season luck in their future as I am sure they will be successful.
~ The season in review
On the plane when I wasn’t sleeping, eating, or watching old episodes of “Martin”, I did a lot of thinking about the season. I thought about successes, failures, opportunities I missed and the ones i took advantage of. I reflected a lot on where I was one year ago that day as a basketball player and as a man and where I want to be one year from now. The season was definitely rough because I’m not accustomed to losing. People talk about good sportsmanship and all of the other important variables that come with athletics but the truth is, we are all sore losers. It is that simple, we’re sore losers. Us players, the coaches, team management, the fans, all of us. We want to win. I always say, “Winning is the cure-all”. When you are winning, everyone is in a better mood, more receptive to criticism, more open to ideas. When you lose people get upset, angry, and defensive. I honestly think that the group we had this year is more than capable of being a playoff team. It just took us too long to understand what the identity of our team was going to be. We didn’t establish a style of basketball that worked for everyone until it was desperation time at the end of the year. I honestly believe if we brought most of the same group back we would be a playoff team. I am sure there is pressure to change up the team and get better but I also think that we shouldn’t completely blow up the team because then you will be searching for a new identity and it could take a while to figure it all out again. With this group we know who we are now and how we need to play to win games.
One of the biggest battles I had this year was within myself. It was balancing trying to stand out or to fit in. Its a tricky balance as I came into a situation in which most of the guys had known each other and been together. I felt like for things to go smoothly, I needed to fit in with the group. But when I think of all the people that achieve greatness, they never try to fit in. They always try to stand out. That is a thought that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. I learned a lot about myself this year also. I always had the confidence that talent wise I could play anywhere, NBA included. The thing is, talent alone will not help me achieve my goals. I have to be consistent in my approach to the game from other aspects to put myself in a position to let my talent truly shine through. Its the little things like extra film study, taking great care of your body (eating right, stretching, icing, treatment etc), and leading every day that will help me maximize my potential. I would be lying if I said I felt like all of my inconsistencies this season were solely on me, but I have no control over those other factors. I must control what I can control, and in my 2nd year pro that lesson became more clear. No situation will be perfect, you have to be resilient and succeed despite any obstacles that get in your way.
~ What now?
Now that the year is over I am looking forward to my summer. This will be a chance to rest up and get 100% healthy. More importantly, this will be a chance for me to rest my mind. Mental fatigue is a basketball player’s worst enemy and I battled it all year. I have played for 3 straight years and summers from my senior year in college at UTA until this day with no real chance to for legitimate rest. Now I have that opportunity and with it will come back with a rejuvenated mind and refreshed spirit. I’ve talked in the last 2 Quez Chronicles Blogs about my plans for improvement this summer so I won’t get into that. But I can definitely confirm that being home feels really good. Im very excited about the road ahead. The opportunities and chances to improve are right in front of me. I feel like I have every resource to develop into one of the World’s best basketball players and that my best basketball is still ahead of me. I just have to put my focus on the journey and embrace that with my destination in mind.
As the playoffs start in Spain there are some really good match ups that I am interested to follow. I think the Lagun Aro match up with Valencia is going to be amazing. Caner-Medley Vs. Panko is going to be a goodie! I’m interested to see what Victor Claver does. If he has a good series then I think Valencia will advance because defensively they are much tougher than Lagun Aro. I also think that Real Madrid might have a little trouble on there hands with Sevilla. I actually think that Sevilla has a really good chance to win that series. I’ll be tuned in for sure.
On the NBA side of things, everyone knows I’m a Kobe fan so the Lakers getting smacked in game 1 with the Thunder has me a little worried. I predicted the Lakers Vs. Celtics in this year’s NBA Finals. The Celtics did their part now I need the Lakers to do their part. The Spurs might have something to say about my prediction but I think Kobe still got some juice and he is hungry for the 6th ring. And Andrew Bynum is a monster.
Lastly, I want to take the time to thank all of the Granca fans for sticking with us through a rough year and helping us end the year on a positive note. Those last home games of the season were absolutely electric. The atmosphere was insane. I also want to thank the fans for the warm welcome to the island. It was amazing the amount of love I got in the city and I really appreciate it. I salute you!
I will continue to post and keep everyone updated with my busy summer months so stay tuned! Great things coming. Thanks again!