The interview sessions with Timofey Mozgov are generally brief. Despite his ever-improving command of the English language, he's still not completely comfortable with carrying on a conversation, especially with a crowd around him taping every word.
But when he speaks Russian -- and it's translated to English -- Mozgov turns out to be a very candid, endearing interview subject. And on his blog page for the Russian newspaper, Sovetsky Sport (which was translated by Alexander Chernykh for the blog, Rush'n Hoops), you get a much better sense of his emotions following his 23-14 performance on Sunday against the Pistons.
He shares a conversation he had with his Russian agent, Maxim Sharifyanov, who tweaked his client.
"He said, 'Hey Tim, did they change the rules in the NBA and made the games longer? So this is why you played 40 minutes'."
You also learn that the incident with Robin Lopez in the Jan. 7 game in Phoenix -- he was ejected for elbowing Lopez in the face -- upset him far more than anyone knew.
"It was a couple minutes before the end of the game. We were losing hopelessly, and D’Antoni put me in the game. I was overwhelmed with desire to prove myself. There was a regular episode where I was fighting to get the ball, and Robin Lopez was doing the same thing. We were battling just like bigs normally do: hard, nearly fouling each other. I was first to get to the ball, but Lopez pressed on my wrist and then quickly moved his hand away and kind of dove with his nose into my hand. So probably it looked like I hit him hard on purpose and that led to a rejection . . . The whole team was on my side. But what’s to make of it. It was already enough that I wasn’t playing, and there goes this outrageous rejection. At some moment I was close to a breakdown, I wanted to break a TV in my hotel room. But I’m an even-tempered guy. I told myself that there would be another chance, and went back to practicing hard. My girlfriend Alla was supporting me very well. I don’t even know what I would do without her."
He said he had a feeling about Sunday's game, with Wilson Chandler out and Shawne Williams serving a suspension.
"Every cloud has a silver lining. I felt bad for the guys, but in a situation like this one should care for himself first. I had a feeling since morning that it would be a good day. But I wasn’t preparing in any special way – whatever happens, happens. During the warm up I felt energized, I started to feel that give me any opponent now and I would tear everyone apart. And then Ronnie Turiaf received two quick fouls. D’Antoni ordered me to play, like, 'your time has come'."
Things didn't start out well, but what he says here about his game was quite interesting:
"Yes, it was a nightmare. I got two fouls, made a terrible shot and committed a turnover. Amare came to me and tried to make me calm down, but I only had a single thought in my head: 'It’s over, Mike is going to bench me now'. But he didn’t say anything and I rushed into battle again. I attacked the rim and missed! I rebounded, attempted another shot and missed again! Another rebound, my third shot, and another bad miss
But from there I got really angry, and from that moment everything started to fall in its place. It was like all my countless misfortunes came to an end."
As for the Garden crowd chanting his name?
"I can’t describe this feeling. I couldn’t even believe that all of that was happening to me. Just yesterday everything was different, and there it goes . . . I can say that I took a deep breath and could finally exhale."
I need to brush up on my Russian. This dude is a great interview.
Actually, spasiba, Alexander from Rush'n Hoops.