The NBA is a microcosm of the world. The League has benefited from the flair, and personality of coaches and players from across the globe. The distinct style and flavor of the association is very diverse, and that is what makes it so unique to fans both near and far.
Each week we will speak with a different athlete to discuss a wide variety of topics ranging from their favorite players of all-time, to the most important things they do to prepare for games.
I recently sat with Victor Oladipo in Philadelphia after the 76ers hosted the Pacers.
When did you realize you had the potential to become pro?
It probably wasn’t until my last year in college. We [Indiana University] were playing against Michigan State on the road, and I was hurt all week. I came back and played, and I had been playing well, but that was a big game for us to solidify ourselves in the Big Ten [Conference]. I played really well and Magic Johnson went on TV and said, “When he comes out, he’ll be a top-five pick.” So when you hear something like that, from a player like that—a player that I admire, a player that is one of the greats—it provides reassurance.
Do you remember the first NBA game you attended, or one that stands out more than others?
Unfortunately I wasn’t really able to go to NBA games growing up, but in college I remember attending a Celtics versus Bulls game, in Chicago. We [Indiana Hoosiers] were lucky enough to go, sit up in the skybox, and watch the game. It was just a surreal experience. I’m watching the teams play, and then we walked into the locker room, and this is when the Celtics were the Celtics—you know, KG [Kevin Garnett], Paul Pierce, Ray Allen—and it was like whoa, this is crazy. I was like, dang, one day I want to be doing that, and I was blessed and fortunate enough to do that one day.
Who did you look up to growing up and why?
I was always a Kobe [Bryant] fan growing up. I just like his mentality and how he stayed aggressive. Then as I grew up, and as I grew in this league, and just hearing the things that he said, and when people interview him, the things that he says—his mindset, his beliefs—that is what I want to be. It’s what I want to follow, so he was always someone that I looked up to. I would say him [Kobe Bryant] and Dwyane Wade. I put Dwyane Wade up there because I feel like I can relate to him. I feel like we have similar stories and I felt like that growing up. I mean I’m his height, I can relate to him, I can do the things he did. We have a similar story and a similar game. Fortunately, we got to play for the same college coach [Oladipo played for Tom Crean at Indiana, who coached Wade while at Marquette], and he’s like my family now. It’s amazing how God works, man. I just take it one day at a time. I’m blessed to be here now with the Pacers and I’m just going to keep getting better.
What does your gameday preparation look like?
It just depends how I’m feeling. I try to eat not too heavy or light before the game. I take my pregame nap—like I’m sure most guys do—and I listen to music, think about the game, think about schemes of what are we trying to do and what are we trying to take away, and stuff like that. I paint a mental picture, and then I just go out there and play. It’s 82 games, so you have to have a solid routine and it has to be consistent. So that’s what I try to do with my routine…be consistent.
Talk about your thought process on what you wear to and from the arena?
It all depends on the situation and what is going on. We’re [Pacers] staying in Philly tonight, and I’m going to see my family. That’s a big part of it. I want to look nice. You know the World Series just ended, and that’s a big story, so I bought out my Jackie Robinson jersey. I know the Dodgers lost, but they are one of my favorite teams. [Clayton] Kershaw’s my man, so I have to rep them. What better way to rep them than to wear the great, the legend—he[Robinson] paved the way—not just baseball—all athletes, all African-American athletes, so why not send a message.
You are also wearing an unreleased pair of Jordan IX—”Win Like ’82″—can you talk about that?
When you’re sponsored by Jordan, you get blessed a little earlier than others [laughs].