Verge Meets: Charlotte Hornets

Paris is known for incredible city views, amazing food and iconic art. As the weather gets colder and summer seems more and more like a dream what could be better than grabbing a quick flight to one of the worlds most romantic wonders to watch the Charlotte Hornets play the Milwaukee Bucks!  Fans are due to gather with Eurostar tickets in hand and we can’t wait to get a front seat view of the action. Verge was lucky enough to have a chat with Charlotte Hornet stars Terry Rozier, Nicolas Batum, Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk about what we can expect in the game ahead!

Terry Rozier

 

On acclimatising to Paris

Terry: “It’s been pretty good. We’ve been to the Eiffel Tower earlier, I love Paris already. I’ve been to London a couple of times, so I’m looking forward to get around and see how it is.”

 

On preparing for the game

Terry: “Going overseas, you want to have some fun, but obviously we still have work to do; we have a job over here and that’s to play on Friday night. We want to balance having fun and being prepared. We know we’re playing a top team, so we’re just trying to balance it, but we definitely want to have some fun here.”

On Michael Jordan

Terry: “It’s dope to be playing for his team; my first time talking on the phone with him, my first time meeting him… it all happened this summer and I’m blessed to have a guy that we all look up to, who we call the GOAT, who can share his knowledge with us and be there for us… it is really special.”

 

On his personal relationship with Michael Jordan

Terry: “He loves my game, he thinks I’m very competitive, so he just tells me to go out there and play and be myself. That’s one of the best advice somebody can give you, especially coming from him.”

 

On playing in Paris during a losing streak

Terry: “It’s great to have a game out of the US. Obviously this is very important for us. We want to win this game and this is going to make that flight back home much sweeter if we win, so we want to try to end this losing streak…”

 

On playing in Paris

Terry: “We’re all really happy to be here. Not many people have the chance to come to Paris, let alone to play in Paris, so we want to thank our fans for the support and we’re looking forward to a great game, a very competitive game on Friday.”

 

On having more games in Europe

Terry: “I’m with it. I obviously don’t make the decisions, but I think it’s always good for us to travel and come overseas and see the love and the support that we’ve got over here. I’ve been to London, Spain, now here. I  hope we can keep it going.”

 

On Giannis Antetokounmpo

Terry: “He is a hell of a player, we all know that. How do you prepare for him? [laughs] You need to put multiple guys on him, trying to tiring him up. He’s a great player, he does everything, we’ll try to be the tougher team and try to make him miss some shots, but he’s pretty good. And we’re in Europe, so he’s going to be pretty hyped.”

 

On goals for the rest of the season

Terry: “We all want to make the Playoffs. We want to get over this slump, this losing streak and move forward.”

 

 

Nicolas Batum

 

On playing a regular season game in Paris
Nicolas: “It’s an emotional moment in my career. As a non-American player to be able to play a NBA game in your own country, it’s very special. It’s true that Tony [Parker] and Rony [Turiaff] have already lived that kind of game, but this one is an official game. It’s the first time it happens in France. I’m particularly proud to be the first one to play a game like this one.”

 

On what it means for his teammates to play in Paris
Nicolas: “They are happy to be here for sure. We were at the Eiffel Tower earlier; they were all taking pictures. They are also very excited to discover Paris. They ask a lot of questions. It’s nice to come here and to show them something new.”

On Giannis Antetokounmpo

Nicolas: “For his height, he is a unique player. What he is achieving is unbelievable. He has revolutionized the game a bit in his own way. He is efficient on the court, he is a pure basketball player. Furthermore, he is improving his shooting, so he is going to become an unstoppable machine. So far, he is this year’s MVP for me.”

 

On how to prepare for a game against the Milwaukee Bucks
Nicolas: “We scout them. We prepare it like a “normal” game. It remains a regular season game. The question is: how to stop Giannis? It has been two years that no one has an answer. It will be our job to make sure he doesn’t have a big night.”

 

 

Devonte’ Graham

 

On using this trip to bond as a team
Devonte: “It’s great that we have the chance to travel together. A lot of us never came overseas, we’ve just seen the Eiffel tower, experiencing something with each other and this will last a lifetime.”

 

On his breakout season

Devonte: “Just hard work. I worked hard and I made the most of the opportunity they gave me. We had two great point guards with Kemba [Walker] and Tony [Parker], so I had to step up into that role.”

 

On Tony Parker
Devonte: “Tony and Nicolas [Batum], I know they get a lot of love out here and Tony gets a lot of love no matter where he goes. He is a legend.”

 

On Michael Jordan

Devonte: “It’s great to play for his team. It’s great to talk to him about basketball, he is the best.”

 

 

Malik Monk

 

On his experience in Paris so far

Malik: “It’s great so far. We arrived last night – our hotel is really nice. Very traditional as well. I love the buildings and the history here. It’s my first time in Paris – I’ve just been to the Eiffel Tower and seeing that for the first time was amazing. I’m very happy to be here.”

 

On playing against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday

Malik: “We’ve played them twice so far this season. We’ve got a pretty good chance if we come out and play hard but they’re a great team and they’re number one in the East at the moment so they’re always going to be difficult to play against. We can’t afford any mistakes against them but we just have to come out and play hard and we could have a good chance of winning.”

 

On how to stop Giannis Antetokounmpo

Malik: “Can’t stop him man – you can’t stop him. You’ve got to try and make him make tough shots but that’s easier said than done.”

 

On the Bucks’ strength and weaknesses

Malik: “They don’t really have any weaknesses to be honest because they have a lot of good players. They’ve got Brook Lopez who’s a seven foot shooter which spaces the floor, Eric Bledsoe is tough, George Hill coming off the bench. They’ve got a lot of vets that know how to play basketball and know how to pick mistakes apart. We’re a young team so we will make mistakes sometimes and they ill exploit that so we can’t make that many.”

 

On his passion for football

Malik: “I started watching soccer when I got to the NBA because of Nico [Nicolas Batum] so I’ve had to try and learn a little bit. I don’t have a favourite team but Cristiano Ronaldo is my favourite player. I also like Neymar as well.”

 

Who would you say is the Cristiano Ronaldo of the NBA and why?

Malik: “LeBron [James]. He’s the face of the NBA, he’s a spokesman for the NBA and whenever you think of the NBA you think of LeBron just like when you think of soccer you think of Ronaldo.”

 

On the game in Paris

Malik: “It’s a real game. This is fun obviously but we’re here for business at the end of the day. We’re here to win and hopefully we do that on Friday.”

 

On his season so far

Malik: “Kind of up and down. I’ve played well at some points and then bad at some parts as well. I think I’m getting better every day. One of my goals is to get more shots up and not necessarily do that extra pass sometimes.”

 

On playing in Europe in his career

Malik: “I would like to maybe when my NBA career comes to an end. They don’t care who the star is over here they just want to win games. There’s more defense and you can be in the lane. They also play harder too and it seems more competitive.”

 

On getting advice from Michael Jordan

Malik: “Whenever we lose he always drops us a text or something to say keep your head up and keep playing. He also gives us advice when we see him face to face he always tells us to keep working.”

 

 

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