15 januari 2009Without any doubt he is chosen as player of the month january: JS Nash. How does he feel about it? "Honored I mean, if you are player of the month it means that a lot of people appreciate how you play basketball and each game goes better and better and I mean not just as an individual but also as a team. Because if I get better in the right way than the team gets better."
"And what in your opinion is the big difference between Ivo and Toon?"
"Hmm, I think the main thing is experience. I mean Toon played for so many years on a high level. You automatically get better with a lot of experience you know. The older you get the wiser you get, you can't do that without a good soul. For example, the offense that he runs, it's the triangle offense that the Los Angeles Lakers play. It's all about reading the defense. He knows how to explain it very well."
So JS sees a difference in the playing-style, but is there also a difference between the team from last year and this one? For example, the experience, the type of players etc?
"I think there are different personalities. Sometimes you bring a team back, like they've bought everyone back last year and sometimes it works and sometime it doesn't. The chemistry might not be there, but I think this year the chemistry is different. The guys get along better and there is a high respect level for each other of the teammates. We have guys that do different things. Bubba is a great shooter, Cedric is a great athlete. Seamus can do a lot of different things. No one is really the same in the team. Last year we had guys with similar skills. It's a different chemistry and a different group of players. And I think the guys will welcome Ronnie LeMelle with open arms and make him as comfortable as possible.
And furthermore, he is staying near my house so more than welcome to come over and play some videogames or hang out. Things like that is important to make him comfortable with the guys from the team."
So you have a good relationship with your teammates, but what do you think about the crowd here in Leiden?
"Man, it's the best. I talk with other Americans and this is one of the toughest places to play against. It may not be the biggest place but it is tough every single game. The fans have a very big impact of how we perform. It's a long basketball season and sometimes physically you can't and your body doesn't feel so good you know, and when the fans give you a lot of energy, than it makes you forget your body hurts, it makes you forget the bruises and the ankle tapes, and you will give all for the fans. You know what I mean, some people come from work and want to watch a good game and relax a little, I want to have the fans into the game you know...
..yeah because you are one of the players who sometimes waves his arms up and down to the crowd to ask them for their support.
"You know, it's a kind of a feeling, sometimes I do it in the first quarter, sometimes when we make a good run and sometimes when we are down with two points we can really use the support of the fans, to give us a extra stimulance. Sometimes when the opponent is at the free-throw line and the fans are shouting like crazy, it can make the player a little worried about the free-throw or worry about whatever. The screaming also makes the players work harder and play harder."
But another important person, your wife is not always here, because she is playing basketball in Spain. How do you feel about that?
"Well, I do not necessary play better when she's around. It's my wife of course, I like to have her right here and it's difficult for some situations. You know it's our dream, our carrier, it's something we both love to do, but we have to sacrifice right now while were young."
Everyone will know that JS arms are full of tattoos, but what do they all mean?
"They all have a special meanings. The tattoo on my right upper arm is my family, my sister, my brother, my mom and my dad. The one above it is just my name, it was the first I ever got.
This one on my left wrist says, only the strong survive, me and my wife have the same but she has it one her foot. The one on my right upper arm is a tribute to my brother in law who died in a plane crash last year. The one above is the nickname my mother gave me, it says mister."
So Mister, do you have any rituals before the game starts?
"I don't have real rituals actually. The coach is talking and I'm focusing on what he's saying.
I say a little prayer. I always come out as last out of the locker room when we go for a warming up. I try to eat healthy before the game, something like spaghetti, because that gives you a lot of energy.
And the final question is about the future, your contract ends this year, what are your plans?
"I just gonna wait and see, you know, I love it here, I love the fans. I've been here for three years and this is my home. I know some guys for three years now, like Sjors, Johan and Mick. I have great team mates. And this is a great steady place to play, I love it here in Leiden. I want to stay, but it also depends on what the other guys do.
And to the fans I want to say: I'm honored to be the player of the month and I appreciate it a lot. I want to thank you all for the support."