1. To describe myself in a few words on the basketball court is a bit difficult. I look at myself as a Leader, an Enforcer, Defensive minded player, a Winner, and a crowd pleaser.
*When it comes to being a Leader, I like to lead by example through my actions on the court, diving for loose balls, bringing positive energy to the locker room and pushing everyone on my team to be better in every moment. Doing the best I can to convince my teammates that we are capable to win every game we play.
*As an Enforcer, I like to be looked at as the key to our toughness. I play with a lot of energy and determination to Win every game. My goal is to have every team we play against to fear how strong we will play on defense and on offense. I stand behind every one of my teammates because we are family and we protect our family. If one player misses a defensive assignment I want to be the one to clean it up and block a shot or take a steal and go dunk the ball to ignite the crowd and my team.
*As a defensive minded player, I take pride in my defense. I believe playing great defense will always lead to easy offense. I like to take the challenge of guarding the opposing teams best offensive player or play makers. I believe I am quick enough to defend a gaurd and I am big enough to create a problem defensively for anybody. My coach at the University of Maryland, Gary Williams, was one who used pressure defense to win games and even championships. His energy was so strong that it made all his players feel excited to play defense. After 4 years of being coached by him, this is all I know. Defense is the key to winning. Of course you must score to win the game, but defense is a deciding factor.
*Being a Winner is all I know. I hate losing. At every moment I am playing a game, I think about everything that I can do to help my team win. No matter if it is scoring, defending, rebounding, assisting, or being supportive to my teammates from the bench. I will do whatever it takes to win because I believe that WE deserve the win more than the team we are playing against.
*As a crowd pleaser, I love to do things that get the crowd and my team excited. Blocking shots, great defensive plays, and of course dunks.. I believe when everyone is excited and energetic, including the crowd, it makes the game more fun. Basketball should be fun and every moment you play it should be filled with crazy exciting moments. That's what keeps the fans coming back to the game.
2. Even though I play basketball and I am good at it, this does not define who I am. I am a loving father, great friend, very funny, adventurous, Shy, and real cool person to be around. I like to go to the movies, play video games, playing with my dog, i love animals, I love to eat, and of course travel the world. One of the most relaxing things to do, is for me to sit outside and look at an amazing view, Mountains, or the Sea... Just to reflect on life and the things I have accomplished and the things that I want to accomplish.
3. Washington DC is my hometown, I grew up in a military family and so I traveled a lot when I was younger. I was born in Adana, Turkey on Incirlik Air Force Base, but I don't remember much about that because I was too young. I lived in Nebraska for 3 years after and then I lived in Germany for 4 years before finally moving to Washington DC in 1995-1996. I believe all that travelling really helped me adjust to the lifestyle that I'm living now with playing basketball in many different countries. I was drafted to the San Antonio Spurs in 2008 and my first year, Gregg Popvich felt that I needed to develop more, and so I was sent to play with Angelico Biella which was a 1st division team in Italy. We had a very successful season that year by the standards of the team, eliminating Virtus Roma in the first round and advancing to the semifinals and losing in game 4 against Armani Jeans Milano. In 2009 I went back to San Antonio Spurs to make the final roster, however, 2 days before training camp I suffered an injury to my right leg that had me sidelined for 3 months. Upon my return in December of that year I chose to finish the season in Krasnodar, Russia with Lokomotiv Kuban. It was a very difficult period for me because I was expecting to be in the NBA by now, not playing in Russia. It was a very humbling experience for me and it helped me grow not only as a player but as a person. In 2010 I returned back to San Antonio to try and make the final roster again. I was determined and motivated at all costs to make the team this year. However, 2 days before opening night I was released from San Antonio. I was very disappointed, but that gave me more motivation to prove that I belong at the highest level. After my release from San Antonio I signed in Belgrade, Serbia with Partizan. This was my introduction to the best competition in Europe, the Euroleague. I had a great season that year, my team qualified to the Top 16, we won the Serbian Cup, Adriatic League, and Serbian National Championship. This was a season I could never forget. In 2011 I signed in Istanbul, Turkey with Fenerbahce Ulker. This was a very difficult season for me for many reasons, but I did the best I could with the opportunity I was given. Again my team didn't advance to the playoff round of Euroleague, we lost in the first round of the Turkish Cup, and also lost first round in the Turkish Basketball League. My most unsuccessful season by far. In 2012 I signed a contract in Malaga, Spain with Unicaja Malaga. I believed that this was my opportunity to recover from a difficult season in Turkey and move to the best domestic league in Europe, the ACB. However this season turned out to be one like a roller-coaster ride. I was involved in the first trade ever in Europe. After 3 months of the season, coach Jasmin Repesa was unhappy with me and believed I was the reason for the team not having much success in the ACB league. So he traded me to Athens, Greece to Panathinaikos B.C. After looking in the mirror and questioning my own personal ability to be an elite basketball player, I found it in myself to prove everyone wrong. I looked at this opportunity as a new beginning. That season finished as one of my best seasons ever as a professional basketball player. Panathinaikos advanced to the playoffs of Euroleague and we lost in Game 5 by 2 points to FC Barcelona, we won the Greek Cup and we beat the Euroleague Champions Olympiakos 3-0 for the Greek National Championship. Since this trade I have remained with Panathinaikos and have continued to be successful. My next goal is to win a Euroleague Championship with Panathinaikos.
4. Wearing the jersey of Panathinaikos is an honor. So many great players have played with this club, this club has so much tradition and history from winning multiple European titles and Greek National Championships it's nothing less than an honor to wear this jersey. Having the opportunity to play in front of 17,000 fans at every Euroleague game is an amazing feeling. To the feel the atmosphere is something words just can't describe. Also, having the opportunity to play alongside a legend like Dimitris Diamantidis is a great honor that many people can only dream about.
5. I think the Greek League will be very competitive this year. You have one of the biggest rivalries in European basketball between Panathinaikos and Olympiakos. Aris, PAOK, AEK, the other teams of the Greek League also give trouble every year to these power teams. The last 10 years at least there has been one or 2 teams from Greece in the Euroleague Final Four so it's only safe to say that this year will be very exciting for Greek Basketball.
*Argiris Pedulakis I believe has helped me the most as a player. He believed in me and my ability to impact a basketball game. He helped me expand my knowledge of the game of basketball and he gave me confidence. I believe that if it wasn't for him that I would be a completely different basketball player and maybe no longer playing at the Euroleague level.
*Joe Smith was my veteran teammate in Angelico Biella, Gerald Green was my teammate in Lokomotiv Kuban, Stefan Lasme, and Mike Batiste were both my teammates here at Panathinaikos. I think between these few that I mentioned, they really helped me grow as a person in many different areas of my life personally. We all will forever be friends from our experiences and interactions together. I look at them like my brothers.
6. I loved Malaga. One of the best places I had ever been. It was very unfortunate that I had to leave. My teammates were like a family to me. I would invite the team to my house to have BBQ almost every week, we all had a great relationship. I still speak with Kruno Simon, Augusta Lima, Marcus Williams, and Zoran Dragic. We were 1st place in our Euroleague group after beating Maccabi Electra in Tel Aviv, I wasn't certain the reason I had to leave the team. But everything happens for a reason.
7. It's not easy to compare the ACB and the Greek National League. I believe the highest level of competition is in Spain if you want to compare every team of the leagues. Every game in ACB is almost like Euroleague level so you have to be ready every moment, unlike Greek League where some games are much easier than others. Real Madrid won 4 titles last season, Barcelona has great history as does Laboral Kuxta, Bilbao, Valencia, Malaga, and every other team in ACB is high level, however, the 2 power house teams in Greece (Panathinaikos and Olympiakos) remain to be the most elite teams in Europe over the past decade.
8. I have more than 20 tattoos haha so to explain everyone would be difficult. But all my tattoos have much significance to me. My right side of my body has more spiritual meaning to my life and the things I believe in, and my left side of my body has more of a real world meaning to me and my lifestyle and life experiences. It's a hobby of mine, expressing myself through art on my body. I plan to get more so stay tuned haha
9. I do have a ritual before every game. I like to walk from sideline to sideline prior to player announcements and pray. I say the same prayer every game, and after I say the prayer I begin to 'zone out' and think about the game I'm about to play, I think about the offense, I think about the defense, I think about having a great game and bringing nothing but energy to the game, I think about involving everyone, coaches, referees, teammates, fans to help win the game. At that moment I feel like I am the only person in the arena and I focus from that point until the end of the game on winning and doing everything in my power to will the win.
10. To the fans, I would like to extend a sincere apology for the events that took place last season. In order to be an elite level player and a role model there are things that cannot exist. For this I am truly sorry and I will do everything in my power to bring back the joy and energy to Panathinaikos and Gate 13. This is also a message to fans and young kids all around the world who are fighting and dreaming to be a basketball player at the highest level possible. You have to sacrifice in order to be the best at whatever you do. When you are a public figure, there is no privacy. It's apart of being Great! #WorkHardPlayHard There are no shortcuts!