I had a great time in London last week promoting the NBA Europe 3X and even got to see my first soccer, or as you guys say, football match at the Emirates. As Arsenal beat Southampton 6-1 I chose a good one.
I would have liked to have been in London a month earlier playing for Team USA at the Olympics but just missed out on selection. I'm aiming to put that right in four years' time in Rio.
Funnily enough my first sport was baseball. I'm from Baltimore and I'm a big Orioles supporter. They haven't won anything in my lifetime but I live in hope. I'm also a big Ravens fan so it was special day when they won the Superbowl in 2001 when I was 15 years old.
I proved too big for baseball, but not, obviously, for basketball. My boyhood hero was Michael Jordan, like everyone else. I loved his attitude. He just hated losing. Having been drafted by Houston and traded the same night to Memphis, I'm now part of one of the most improving teams in the NBA.
They moved from Vancouver in 2001. This is why we're called the Grizzlies, although I haven’t seen one anywhere near Memphis. Since then we've got better and better. We made the play-offs last season and this time I believe we're strong contenders to win the NBA.
It's a long, hard season. We played three to four games every week, and that meant a lot of three or four in the morning arrivals at different hotels in different cities. Around about now, though, basketball players are itching to get going again, even if the pre-season is never something to look forward to. There will be a lot of weights because we need to prevent injury and stand our ground in what is a physical sport, and a lot of dashes as we need to get from 0 to 60 and cover 40 yards pretty quickly on a basketball game.
There will also be five pre-season Games before the season kicks off on October 31st at the Staples Center in Los Angeles where we play the Clippers. As they beat us in last season's clippers we will be hugely motivated to get the season off to a good start.
Keep an eye out for the Grizzlies. We're a young team, but we're going to surprise a few people this year.
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