IT’S STILL UNREAL to be described as an NBA champion. I’m very lucky and very blessed. I think each title was different, each one had their own struggles and they all were very tough. This one being in the bubble was the toughest mentally, for sure, because of the circumstances.
My first one, with the Spurs, we lost to Miami the year before, then we had a chance to come back and it was a relief—it wasn’t easy beating them in the 2014 NBA Finals. The second took five years to get back, being in Canada with the Raptors, having a lot going on there and this one being in the bubble, they’re all very tough mentally, physically, emotionally.
The bubble was draining. When my fiancée finally got to Orlando, it made things a little bit easier for a little while. I missed my dogs, too, I hadn’t seen them for three months. I have two Pomsky dogs—Gizmo (like Gizmo from Gremlins) and Nuke. They're like miniature Huskies and have a lot of energy.
When you’re in one space, it can mentally get to you. Being around the same scenery and not really getting fresh air, it was definitely draining but well worth it. It’s almost hard to put it into words but it felt like, Alright, I could probably retire a happy man right now. A dream I had as a kid has come true.
That being said, winning made me feel ultra relief. There was obviously the satisfaction of winning, but the stress relief of it being over and getting to go home. Like, we get to go back to somewhat of a normal life.
Oh, and as for the comments about my game or that winning the ’chip in the bubble didn’t count—the criticism is nothing new. I’m so used to it that it didn't really faze me while playing. I’m used to it and I just ignored it. I knew we had plenty of opportunities, I know my team, and that we would bounce back. I wasn’t trippin’ about it or shaken by it.
I worked through tough offensive moments by staying positive and staying encouraged. My teammates and coaches helped me through that, mainly. Being a part of this league for so long, being a professional, you don’t get too high or too low. You know how things will go: things will change, things will turn, but just stay in the gym and keep shooting. Shooters gonna shoot. Regardless if you make a miss, you go in with the same confidence.
As for Snoop’s comment, Nah, I don’t have anything to say about that. Yes, I saw it. It’s hard not to see his comments—but I just ignored it, too, and kept it moving. He’s a fan, that’s how he feels and I'm sure there are fans that feel a certain way about his music. Some celebrities may not even voice it publicly but, hey.
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THE THIRD Coming
FOR DJ WAGNER, SON OF DAJUAN AND GRANDSON OF MILT—BOTH FORMER NBA PLAYERS—BASKETBALL RUNS IN HIS FAMILY’S BLOOD. OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS, HE’LL USE THAT TALENT AND HIS NO. 1 RANKING IN THE CLASS OF 2023 TO LEAD CAMDEN HS TO THE TOP OF THE BASKETBALL WORLD (AGAIN).
STATE of the UNION
CHRIS PAUL HAS BEEN A NATURAL LEADER SINCE AS FAR BACK AS HE CAN REMEMBER. BUT THROUGH 2020, AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE NBPA, PAUL HAS LED ALL 450 NBA PLAYERS THROUGH THE MOST TURBULENT OF TIMES—THROUGH A PANDEMIC, A SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT, A BUBBLE, AND A SEASON THAT SOMEHOW STRETCHED 355 DAYS—AND THOSE LEADERSHIP ABILITIES HAVE BEEN MORE CRUCIAL THAN EVER. WE SPOKE WITH CP3 ABOUT THE LEGACY OF THE PAST YEAR AND MUCH MORE.
The Fresh Princesses of Blair
IT’S STRAIGHT UP DOMINATION WHEN OLIVIA MILES AND DOMINIQUE DARIUS, TWO OF THE BEST GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL PLAYERS IN THE COUNTRY, ARE ON THE FLOOR AT THE SAME TIME.
MEET THE SALAM SCHOOL STARS—AN ALL-MUSLIM GIRLS’ TEAM THAT’S CHALLENGING GENDER-NORMS WITHIN THEIR COMMUNITY.
Back For More
ATHLETIC PROPULSION LABS’ first basketball sneaker got banned from the NBA because it gave wearers an “advantage.” The brothers who launched the company have returned to the game 10 years later, with a duo of brand new sneakers.
3 the HARD WAY
THREE NBA CHAMPIONSHIPS WITH THREE DIFFERENT TEAMS MEANS DANNY GREEN KNOWS A THING OR THREE ABOUT WINNING. AS HE WRITES HERE, THE THIRD WAS THE MOST SATISFYING.
Though her first year in the WNBA was anything but normal, Atlanta dream star Chennedy Carter is on her way to a long career in front of the bright lights.
NO MERCY, NO FEAR
THE NBA IS BACK AND NEW ORLEANS PELICANS STAR ZION WILLIAMSON IS AS CONFIDENT AS HE’S EVER BEEN. LET THIS BE YOUR FINAL WARNING.
THE PEOPLE'S CHAMP
NATASHA CLOUD HAS ALWAYS FOUGHT FOR WHAT’S RIGHT. BY OPTING OUT OF THE 2020 WNBA SEASON TO FOCUS ON SOCIAL JUSTICE, THE REIGNING CHAMP CONTINUES HER FIGHT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY.
MEET ROBBY SIKKA, THE SUPERFAN TURNED DOCTOR TURNED NBA TEAM VP WHOSE EXPERTISE HAS BEEN CRUCIAL FOR THE NBA THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC.
KOBE BRYANT & DAUGHTER DIDN'T STAND A CHANCE!
Gianna and Kobe died while on their way to a girls’ basketball tournament
PANINI ANNOUNCES KOBE REDEMPTION PLANS
KOBE BRYANT’S SUDDEN PASSING IN JANUARY CREATED A LOT OF HOLES. WHILE MOST ARE EMOTIONAL, THERE ARE SOME MORE PRACTICAL THINGS TO BE TAKEN CARE OF. TO THAT END, PANINI HAS ANNOUNCED PLANS FOR THE REMAINING KOBE BRYANT AUTOGRAPH REDEMPTIONS.
THE SCOUTING REPORT - 2020 PANINI IMMACULATE COLLEGIATE BASKETBALL
2020 Panini Immaculate Collegiate Basketball takes the premium brand online as an exclusive for the company’s website. And while the distribution may be smaller, the focus on incoming rookies and high-end cards remains the same. Five of the six cards in each hobby box are either autographs or memorabilia cards.
Tristan & Khloé's LONG-DISTANCE ROMANCE: DOOMED?
The couple faces a dilemma while residing on separate coasts.
NBA COACHES ATTIRE: MASKS ARE IN, JACKETS ARE OPTIONAL
For NBA coaches, masks are required this season. Jackets are not.
GOOD VIBES ONLY SOFI TUKKER
This month's cover story features 2X GRAMMY nominated musical duo that we have been a fan of for awhile now.
THE URGENT NEED FOR SOPHISTICATED LEADERSHIP
The pandemic has highlighted a series of paradoxes inherent to the work of leaders. What comes next will depend on how well leaders face up to them.
PLANNING TRAVEL BECOMES MORE COMPLICATED DURING PANDEMIC
Planning travel for college basketball teams can be complicated. Flights and hotels have to be booked, buses rented, meals planned. Schedules have to be worked around practices and games.
3 KEYS TO HAVING A STUDENT MINDSET
We all do it. We get comfortable riding what and how we ride. Why bother stretching ourselves? Why try something different, more challenging, and unusual? Because having a student mindset focused on learning and growing will make you a safer rider. And, it’s downright fun!
PROS AND CONS
The myriad ramifications of moving the 2021 draft back a month