Get an exclusive look into the lives of the newest NBA players to hit the courts this season. Follow the NBA's top rookie - Tim Hardaway, Jr. (New York Knicks), Cody Zeller (Charlotte Bobcats), C.J. McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers), Michael Carter-Williams (Philadelphia 76ers) and Anthony Bennett (Cleveland Cavaliers) - through the 2013-14 season as they make the leap to playing on basketball's biggest stage.
Name: Cody Zeller
Team: Charlotte Bobcats
Height/Weight: 7’0/240 lbs
I’ve grown up playing basketball against my older brothers. Tyler and I played each other more times than I can remember. But this time we were wearing NBA jerseys. It was literally my eighth professional game. We were playing the Cavaliers in Cleveland. Tyler is in his second season. We played similar minutes and guarded each other most of the time. It was weird. We’re both competitive and we played hard but it’s not like we were going to start a fight out there. For us, it was just Game 8 of 82. It’s just not often that the guy you’re guarding grew up in your house.
At one point, Coach (Steve Clifford) called a timeout and drew up a play. Somewhere between the huddle break and the whistle I must have forgot and messed the whole thing up. Coach called another timeout just to yell at me. When we walked out to the floor again I asked Tyler, “Could you tell I messed that play up?” It was little things like that they made it fun.
The referees had fun with it too. After one timeout, a ref asked if Tyler and I had went to dinner the night before. We did. Our parents were in town so we all went out. When the check came I put in a little something and Tyler paid the rest. When the ref asked during the game about who paid the bill, I told him we split it.
“How are you going to let the rookie, your little brother come to your city and pay for half of the bill?” the ref yelled to Tyler. We all got a laugh out of that.
Having my brothers—my oldest brother Luke played for the Phoenix Suns last season—has been great in helping with my transition into the NBA, especially mentally. It’s a long rookie year just because there’s so much to learn. They reminded me that you’re going to have some good games and some bad but there’s always another game right around the corner. The other adjustment is getting acclimated to a new life.
I grew up in Washington, IN and played two years at Indiana before being drafted by Charlotte. Now I’m living alone in an apartment not far from Time Warner Cable Arena. Moving to a new city is like moving away to college again. Except this time I’m not surrounded by thousands of kids my age. It’s tougher to age and I’ve been traveling, so it’s tough to get out and meet know people and make new friends. Plus, you want to make the right friends.
I’ve never really lived outside of Indiana. Everything is new. But my coaches have been great and my family have helped me stayed focused. It takes time when you’re moving to a new city. But I’m enjoying it.
as told to Christopher Hunt
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