Let’s just say this - 2016 was possibly the best year of my life thus far. This feeling that I have is in large part due to falling in love with the European basketball scene over the past year. I was a part of a team that won three championships; Turkish Cup, Turkish League Playoffs, and the President’s Cup. We made it to the championship game of the EuroLeague as well but lost in the end. This year rekindled my love for the game of basketball and showed me the impact that I can have off the court with just a single smile.
Life knocks you down sometimes. But it’s those who are able to get up time and time again who make a special dent in the world. 2015 was a rough year for the kid. Not playing any significant minutes in the NBA hit me hard and my love for the game also took a hit. But even when things are tough, God always has a plan. One positive note that occurred during 2015 was meeting and becoming friends with great people like Hedo Turkoglu. Who would have known that our relationship would flourish and he’d also help me get to Fenerbahce. So if you see him, give him a high five!
2016 has truly been amazing for me. Being able to see the world and learn about different cultures is exciting! Also, while abroad you learn so much about world history and even the United States of America. Don’t get me wrong; America is a great place but its history and how it got to power is terrifying. The history I learned in school was really half-truths (I can go all day on that subject so let’s change it). One of my favorite parts about living abroad is the food! The food is so much fresher outside the states. And don’t get me started on the seafood in Turkey. It is absolutely amazing!
All in all, 2016 was another step in the right direction for me. Building on what we accomplished, the opportunity to hoist up that EuroLeague trophy for Fenerbahce is driving me to work hard every day. I’ve also had a ton of fun going to schools and speaking engagements with people in Turkey. Coming to Turkey has been the best move of my professional career. It has opened my eyes to the endless possibilities in this world. I pray 2017 is even more exciting. More wins and more smiles. In 2017, let’s all do our best to be great people!!!
These next two games will be a great test for us. Last week we started slow and passive against an aggressive Pana team. They made us pay all game long and beat us. We know we can’t start out games in this manner against any team in our league.
First up this week is a game against a Darussafacka team that is trying to stay above .500 on Wednesday. In our first match up against Darussafacka in Turkish League, we won by only one point. It was a fight from beginning to end. I liken the matchup against Darussafacka as a derby match because it’s so tough and each club wants to desperately make their claim as Turkey’s top team.
Then comes the rematch from the championship game vs CSKA on Friday. I know everyone has been waiting for this game. Remember, it is only one game. The intensity for this game will be through the roof. CSKA likes to force their will on any opponent. Even down a couple players, their style of play continues to roll on. I am really looking forward to this battle between two contenders. We will have our hands full with Teodosic and company. Teodosic has been playing at an high level since the Olympics. I hope De Colo can play in this one. Better believe that we will be ready for this game. This game will be one of the most exciting games of the season!!!