Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sideways



He has found himself a home in DC with the Washington Wizards, but this was quite the story to get there.

Growing up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Temple was the youngest of three boys, and was always surrounded by the game. Temple's father was the first African American to play ball at LSU, eventually playing in the NBA, and while it was expected for him to follow in his father's footsteps, even as a young one, Garrett always liked to think for himself.

Temple was highly recruited and decided to stir things up when he looked at other schools, just in case. After much thought, He ended up deciding to attend LSU where he red-shirted his freshman year and went on to have a successful four more years, leaving LSU with the most minutes played in school history.

However, LSU was just the beginning of the story.

Temple has always been an under the radar guy who shies away from the spotlight. While now he is playing with the best of the best, the road to get there took many different turns. He went undrafted out of college, where he described himself as being "kind of unknown". He then attended the Houston Rockets training camp and eventually got cut. He headed to the very border of the U.S. to Rio Grande Valley, Texas where he played in the NBA D-League for 30 games. Eventually, he got called up to Houston, where he played for two- 10 day contracts, then to Sacramento for another 10-day, and ended finishing up the season with San Antonio.

And that was only his rookie year...

Year two brought about a new agenda. Temple sprained his ankle during summer league, came back, and then got cut again by his team at the time, the San Antonio Spurs. He headed back to Rio Grande and then later found himself in Lake Erie with the BayHawks. Milwaukee Bucks called him up, went back to the D-League again, and then called up to the Bobcats for the rest of the year. 
Then the NBA lockout hit.

Temple headed overseas to Italy to play, learning a whole new side of himself, culture, and the game. The lockout ended and he went to training camp with the Miami Heat but ended up being the last one cut. He headed to the D-League once again, and then on Christmas Day of 2012, the Washington Wizards called his name. 

Now making a home and name for himself in DC, Temple has had a huge impact on this team, filling in wherever needed and staying ready for when his name is called, just as he always has. 

 It all doesn't make much sense when you look at it. Temple's journey to the NBA has been a challenge at times, but he will be the first to tell you that he wouldn't change a thing.  A story like this is not one that many could have gone through, constantly having to re-locate and prove yourself over and over again. And it will make you ask why he is as grateful and resilient as they come.

There's a reason for that.
Temple stays confident that every 'no' sets him up for an even greater 'yes'.  He has gone through his career with something that no one could ever take away from him: his faith. And that faith set him for success from the very beginning. 

Unconventional. Inconvenient. Unexpected. 

Sideways. 

That's been Temple's journey. And he can't wait to keep it going. 


Was basketball always the goal for you?
I remember having a specific conversation with my father. My dad was my AAU coach from when I was 8 until I was 17. I remember asking my dad when I was 14 or 15 this question: "Why is basketball so important to the Temple family? What's up with that?" We were at a little diner that we always would go to for breakfast and it was 6 or 7 o'clock in the morning, probably after I woke up for a workout, actually probably when he woke me up for a workout (laughs). I remember him  saying "Huh? [Like] what kind of question is that?" I was very inquisitive...still am. So he tried to explain, the best way he could. He thought that this was something I wanted and he understood what I needed to do to get there because he played in the NBA. He understood what it took to get to the next level. His saying was always, "You can't get ahead staying in the bed." And I'm a guy that loves my sleep. You know i take my naps & I get a lot of sleep. He is the type where you get up early in the morning and get your workout in. Anyways though, I always had dreams of playing in the NBA. I realized about a year after I asked that question, that I really did want to play basketball for myself, not just because of my parents/family and not just because people expected me to play. I knew I was naturally gifted and I was decently tall. I played so much so I was pretty good but at some points I didn't know if I was doing it for me or if was doing it because i was supposed to be doing it. When I was 15 or 16 years old, I got to the point where I understood, this is really what I want to do for myself.


Looks like your decision was a good one. What has been your favorite basketball memory?
My favorite memory would have to be playing against Duke when I was at LSU my freshman year. It wasn't just a college team; I had guys on the team that I grew up with: Tyrus Thomas, Glen Davis, Tasmin Mitchell. All 4 of us 19 year old's were starters on that team. To to go up against Duke and get the win was huge. That had to be my most memorable moment in my career.

You have found a home in DC now. Describe what the city is like.
It's fast-paced, but where I live outside the city is kind of a "small town" feel which I enjoy, being from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I can go to the barbershop right around the corner; I feel like I am at home in way. If I want the hustle and bustle of the city, I can go to DC, and go to a nice restaurant or whatever it may be. DC is a very progressive city; it's a spot where people are up and coming- entrepreneurs, business men/women, and obviously people looking to get into the political field. It's a great city to come to when you are trying to get your career started in business or politics and to meet new young professionals.


Talk about this year's Wizards roster. What has being a part of this team been like?
It's a group of funny guys. For starters, Jared Dudley, it's his first year on the team and I remember him telling me that this is the funniest team he's been on and he has been in the league for some years now. The addition of Allen Anderson - who is one of the the funniest guys on our team, up there in the top 2 top 3. Dudley and Anderson came in and worked with the team immediately. DeJuan Blair has had great energy; he's a fun guy to be around as well. We have a great mix of veterans and the young guys. You know, we have players that just understand what needs to be done. Our one rookie, you know we stay on the rook, Kelly Oubre, who has a lot of talent. We have a pretty close knit group that clicked early on in the season. That's what happens when you bring in veterans that have been in the league and have the right mindset. Guys like Gary Neal. It's definitely a family atmosphere this year. Guys joke around; I was actually just laughing at a group text before I got on the phone with you. We have a group text with all the guys, we always stay in touch because we are laughing at each other and stay in touch, making bets on football games and stuff like that.

What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the season?
I'm looking forward to getting better as our team and trying to reach our goal which is to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals. We want to make it farther than we have the last two years. We lost in the second round the past two years. and the media have reminded us that it's been the same exact date both years. So, we would like to make it past May 15th, and make it to the Eastern Conference finals because I believe we have the talent. We have the players on this team and we have the coaching staff with the ability to do that. And when you get there (to the eastern conf. finals), who knows what could happen. I think that's my main goal; I've always been a guy that's team-oriented. You can't control how much time you get on the court, so in terms of stats and things of that nature, I'm not big on that. I just want to do whatever I can when I'm on the court, and when I'm off the court, I need to influence the game in ways that I can. As a team I think we need to try to make the Eastern conference finals and I look forward to us reaching that goal.

And what about for you? What personal goals do you have for the rest of this season?
I'm looking to shoot over 40% from the three point range. I want to be one of the team leaders in steals per game. I am also working on improving my field goal percentage around the rim. Those three things are things are what I have been focusing on this year.

Describe your style of play in three words.

Intelligent, tenacious, versatile


Walk through a typical home game day.
I wake up around 8:30 am & take a quick shower to wake myself up. I head to the gym, hopefully it's not a Tuesday-Thursday cause those are the days that traffic is crazy in DC with the people and all the politicians commuting and stuff. I get to the gym, get some breakfast- usually waffles, a half of a pecan waffle, and some scrambled egg white with turkey, cheese, spinach, red bell pepper. And then I go into the weight room, get a lift in, we watch film before shoot around, go get the shoot around in around 10:30 am. After that, I come home after I pickup some food from the chef, come to the crib, get my good  nap in, wake up, eat around 3 pm, take a shower to get me up, and get myself ready. I get dressed & head to the game. On game day, I get to the gym around 4:15 pm, warm up a little bit with the trainer, go get shots up on the court around 5 pm. At about 5:30 pm, I come in and work with the trainer while I have my music on, my headphones in while I'm listening to whatever stuff i have on that day, that chill hip hop, you know. Around 60 minutes left on the game clock, I go to chapel, get that good word in. I then come back to the locker room and get locked in. Coach comes in around 40 minutes left on the clock. After that, we listen, get dressed, get on the court. And then it's time to play.

Any specific pre-game ritual you do before every game?
I go to chapel before tip off before every game-both on the road and at home. Myself, Bradley Beal, and Kelly Oubre all attend. Our chaplain, I might be a little bias, but our chaplain, is probably the best so we are lucky that we get to see him 41 teams a year. That's the firs thing I do, go to chapel and get that good word in. Sometimes we don't get to go to church/bible study because we are on the road or have a game. To have that opportunity to go to chapel, even if it's 10 or 15 minutes, to get that Scripture, that's always a positive.


Your faith has always played a big role in your journey. How has that been part of your basketball career?
You just look at the path my career has taken. A lot of people would've stopped or felt like the NBA just wasn't for them. I feel fortunate to know that I don't need basketball. I was blessed enough to go to college and get a degree. I understand that this is not the end all be all. I went through being cut multiple times, having to make teams, prove people wrong, and proving myself over and over again. Without my faith, I don't think I would've been able to continue to do that. I have had to trust in God and understand that everything happens for a reason. He's going to open doors and close doors at the time that he sees fit and it's all for my good. Whenever a team cuts me or I leave a team, I always send a tweet out or things of that nature thanking them for the opportunity. I remember people asking me 'How can you thank a team for just cutting you?'  To me, it's like this: obviously they cut for me a reason, but for whatever earthly reason they had, God had closed that door because he has something better in store for me. When I realized that in my basketball career, I surrendered to Him and let Him do what he needs to do. I do my part and I let God take care of the rest. My faith has allowed me to be at peace with my career and not worry if I'm in a contract year, if I have to make a team or whatever the situation may be. I have been in situations where I have been on the eighth day of a 10 day contract and I have no clue what's going to happen but having that faith has allowed me to be able to block that stuff out and just focus on the task at hand. I let God take care of it.


Getty Images / Rob Carr

You mentioned listening to some chill hip hop before a game. What's been on your playlist lately?
Oh okay, I have been changing my playlists up a little bit. It's been a lot of different stuff. I might have some Trip Lee on there and Lecrae. I'm definitely gonna have some J. Cole on there. Just some real chill, hip-hop type of stuff. I let the DJ, in terms of the game, hype me in up in terms of all the other rap that's out there. When I'm listening, I'm just trying to get in my zone. I might even listen to a little bit of R&B if necessary.  


Do you have a go to pre-game meal?
Whatever the chef cooks, fish or chicken along with some carbs and vegetables. 

Favorite arena to play in?
Favorite to arena to play in is probably MSG. Cause, you know, there's nothing like Madison Square Garden.

Who is the most underrated player in the NBA?
Langston Galloway of the New York Knicks. I might be a little bias because he is my young boy from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He's a guy that people don't really know about that can really play. He's a great guy & even a better person.

Who is the hardest person to guard in the NBA?
Steph Curry. He has the ultimate green light; he can score from anywhere on the floor. It's really impossible to guard somebody like that.

Which NBA city is the most fun to visit?
I mean, I always love Miami and LA, but I think one people wouldn't know about would be Toronto. It's a really nice city with beautiful people.

Alright you are going to play game of pick up. Who is all there?
My team: Bill Russell at the 5, Duncan at the 4, Larry Bird at the 3, MJ at the 2, & I'm playing the 1
Other team: Oscar Robinson at the 1, Kobe at the 2, LeBron at the 3, Anthony Davis at the 4, & Wilt at the 5

And who is winning that game?
We win that game. We play team basketball & we give it to the most clutch guy of all time. MJ, of course.

Speaking of MJ, what are your favorite pair of shoes to hoop in?
I wore a pair of Jordan's for a long time through my freshman year and those were the all black 10's. I'm playing in the Kyrie's now though and they're really comfortable.

This or that...

Summer or fall?
Fall

West coast or East coast?
West Coast

Pancakes or waffles?
Waffles

Books or magazines?
Books

Movies or shows?
Movies, ohhh no wait, shows.

Sunrise or sunset?
Sunset

Sock game or shoe game?
Shoe game

LA or the Bay?
LA


Let's say you have some time off. What are you up to?
I like to sleep. A lot. Nah, but I do enjoy my rest- it's much needed. I read a little bit. I'm a big movie guy so I catch the movies a lot. If it's not winter time, I like to golf- I love to play golf. I'm a homebody really, you're not gonna catch me kayaking or trying to go mountain climbing on an off day. I'm definitely going enjoy my rest and relaxation time.

What is your favorite part about being in the NBA?
Still to this day- we're playing a basketball game, a game, for money, for pretty good money at that. We're playing basketball. That's my favorite part. It's crazy to think about that every day. I got this saying from Juwan Howard when I was in Miami, "Alright guys, another day in paradise." You know, it's a blessing to be in the situation I am in. I'd do it for free, so to get paid for it is amazing. I still cant believe it sometimes, I sit down and think about my life. It' s crazy.

What motivates you?
Our coaches will ask us all the time, "Who are you playing for?" I play for my Lord and Savior, first & foremost. He's given me a talent and that's motivation in itself to try to work on that talent and play to the best of my ability in order to glorify Him. I also play for my family who have helped me get where I am today. I play for my teammates; I want to get better every day for them. The better I get, the better the team is overall. And the fans comes that come out to support us.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Up to Something

     

From the beginning, he was always up to something: pictures of lil' Kev holding a basketball with a big smirk before he could even walk or sporting a number 23 jersey with full belief in his mind that he could be the next MJ.

And through it all, some things never changed...

His love for the game & his unwavering ambition.

The journey began in Tacoma, Washington where he was involved in school ball and AAU all the way through high school. When it came time for college and recruiting, he wasn't so sure that basketball would be in the picture anymore and, in turn, decided to put his focus completely towards his education by choosing to attend Seattle Pacific University [SPU]. He began working with the SPU athletic department and getting involved with intramurals during college, distracting him from really missing the game all too much.

 Then, 2 weeks before his senior year was set to begin, a phone call came in from SPU head coach, Ryan Looney. Looney asked if he had any interest in playing. 

Kevin jumped all over the opportunity – and within 2 days, he started preseason workouts with the team.

While now balancing the life of a college athlete, Kevin hasn't changed his ways. He is still that young boy in a jersey with a basketball in his hand, sights set on big dreams and a bright future.

Working on his game. Working on his education. Working on bettering himself.

And what's next? Well, whatever it may be...he's up to something.


During the season, what is a typical game day like for you?
 For home games, we’ll typically have class, then a short, but important shoot-around where we do a bit of last minute shooting. After that is a team meal and some free time before we have to be back at the gym dressed and ready to go. When we’re on the road we’ll wake up early and have team breakfast together. Then do shoot around and a pregame meal.

Any pre-game rituals? 

I listen to a lot of music on game day. I don’t really have a set playlist, it's just whatever I’m feeling that day. From jazz, to rap, I just try to have my headphones in as much as possible.

I like it. What have you been listening to lately?
 Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, them boys up to somethin’... 
And the rest of what a Time To Be Alive is kind of the team anthem right now.

And what goals do you have for them "boys"/the team this season? 

I think our team has a lot of potential this year. The goal is obviously to get to the tournament and win but I think on a smaller scale, we can set a goal to come in and work our hardest every day to get better. That’s the team identity.


What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career & how did you overcome it? 
The biggest challenge has been being away from basketball for 3 years and jumping back into it. When I decided to play, I had 1 day in between going from being a normal guy to a college athlete. It was a quick transition, but I have great coaches and teammates who have helped me get through it all smoothly.

Looking back, what has been your favorite basketball memory? 

My senior year of high school we were on the road at our rival (Foss HS). Both of us were undefeated at the time and the gym was packed. We were up 2 with 3 seconds left and their star player made two FT’s to tie it up…I grabbed the ball out of bounds and threw it - right over the defense - full court to my teammate who laid it up at the buzzer. Our fans stormed their court and we went on to go 10-0 in league. I’ll never forget it.

What are your personal goals for this season?

My goal this season, like any season I've played, is to be the best possible teammate I can. As long as I'm pushing myself to the limit and it makes the guys around me better, I can't ask for anything more.

Describe your style of play in three words.

 Smooth, Poised, Relaxed

Who is an NBA player you relate to? 
Dwyane Wade. I wish I played more like him, he makes getting to the basket so easy – but more so I like to relate myself to him off the court. He’s a great role model and inspiration for my game.

And, I have to ask, who is your NBA team?

Miami Heat !!!


Who do you think is the most underrated player in the NBA? 
Mike Conley (lefty love)

I agree, Conley is a talented PG. Alright, choose a starting 5 dream team + 2 off the bench.
Magic, Jordan, LeBron, Wilt The Stilt, Shaq
Off the bench -Kareem & Kobe

Favorite pair of kicks out right now? 
Nike Roshes. My collection is always growing. When they first came out, I think I bought 3 or 4 pairs right away.

Go-to post game meal? 

In high school, it was anything cooked by my mom. Coming home after a game to her cooking was the best feeling ever. Now in college, I’d say teriyaki or fried rice.


If you play NBA 2K, which team / player do you usually choose to play as?
 Atlanta – Kyle Korver never misses.

Besides 2K, what hobbies do you have outside of ball and school?
I love music. I’ve been playing piano for a while now, so I use listening and playing music as a getaway from everything. When my headphones are in, nothing else matters. Other than that, I enjoy spending time with my family – whether that’s golfing with my dad or arguing sports with my brother.

You had the opportunity to work with the Seattle Pro Am & Jamal Crawford this past summer. Describe that experience.

The Pro-Am was awesome. I got to spend my weekends hanging out with Jamal Crawford and other local guys who’ve made their hoop dreams come true. I gained management experience, because I was the guy in charge of making sure everything in the gym ran smoothly, as well as getting the players and coaches anything and everything they needed. As a player, I had the opportunity of shooting around with Jamal one day after everyone had left the gym. I wish everyone could see how humble and approachable he is. Not everyone who makes it big stays as levelheaded and respectable as he has.


What advice do you have for athletes pursuing their dreams of playing college ball?
My advice would be to always work for what you want. In my case I didn’t pursue the initial dream, but now that I’ve decided to play and I’m back into it – I realize how much I missed it. College ball is extremely hard work, and a lot of times the kids from my city don’t make it because of reasons off the court, so another piece of advice would be to focus on what’s really important – God, family, school, basketball. The rest of the extra things only deter kids from reaching those dreams. One last thing would be to never forget where you come from. I owe everything to Tacoma, Washington. I’m by no means a basketball star, but where I grew up definitely had a huge impact on who I am now – and when I have the means to, I’ll give back in any way I can. 

That's awesome. Who would you say inspires you? 
My brother and dad inspire me the most. Those two are the hardest working men I know. Growing up looking up to them, I didn’t have an excuse not to act the right way or work for anything I wanted. My brother just graduated from law school, passed the BAR exam, and got his first job at a law firm downtown Seattle. My dad was a kid from Augusta, Georgia who moved across the country when he was 18. He hasn’t stopped working since he got to Seattle, and is now a manager at Boeing. Nothing was ever given to him – he earned everything. That’s all the inspiration I need.

And what’s next for Kev after SPU?

Grad school! I have another year of eligibility, so the plan is to find a school where I can play ball and get another degree. But, anything can happen – so I’m taking things one day at a time. 

Day in and day out, what motivates you?
I’m motivated by success. For me, making my parents proud, being a good Christian, brother, and friend determine how successful I am. I always want to give the people around me a reason to believe in me – which provides plenty of motivation for me every single day.


Photos: Tre James || TreMichelJames, Instagram
Title: "Jumpman" - Future/Drake

Monday, January 11, 2016

Live & Grow



Born in Maryland into a family of six, Leon moved to Nevada, and then grew up where he considers home in the state of Texas. Eventually, he found himself pursuing his education and track dream at UCLA in the city of Los Angeles, California.

This athlete began running at a young age however the sport became more real to him during high school when he realized track could take him places he never knew before, taking part in the 100, 200, and the 4x4 relay. As he has made the transition from different cities, coaches, tracks, teammates, and arenas along the way, this athlete has learned that he is always learning. The opportunities ahead of him are limitless with a mindset that stems from strength.

 These races are more than just running as they hold greater purpose. Leon sees the bigger picture, running with assurance that whether he wins or loses, his faith in God doesn't waver.  Every time he comes off that block, no one can take his confidence away from him.

As he adjusts to life in the City of Angels, Leon continues to live & grow with each race he runs.




Describe growing up in Texas.
I liked growing up in Texas a lot. I adjusted really quickly to the new geographic area. I liked growing up in high school with my twin because we had a large friend group. Also, Texas is a competitive state because the state itself is very sports oriented; that aspect of Texas helped me with my success in track.

And how did you end up choosing UCLA?
UCLA was initially my dream school when I was little. The school was my last visit and my last offer.

What do you love most about running track?
 Basically, it would have to be that you're as good as how hard you work. That's one of the things I love most about it. If you wanna be good, then you have to put the work in.

Favorite place to visit when you're on the road?
Texas


Favorite place to run?
I like University of Texas' track; that's my favorite.

What's on the pre-game playlist?
Gucci Mane, Chief Keef, Juicy J, & OG Maco

And do you have a pre-game ritual?
Yeah I kinda do. Usually the night before, I try to go to bed early, at least before 11 pm. On race day, I like to shower before my races, I don't know why I just like to feel good. And then an hour before I leave, I will just play music after I get out the shower and while I am getting ready. Once I am ready, I will get all my stuff together and I will pray and then leave. When I get to the track, I go and jog a lap or do a short warm up just to get my muscles ready. When I'm warming up I will just listen to music. Right before my race, I'll pray. When I walking to the block or behind the block, I will pray again one more time. Then it's go time.

Prayers seem to be a big part of your preparation. How has your faith played a role with your track career?
 I just feel like whether I have a a good race or a bad race, everything happens for a reason. That builds my faith. If I have a bad race, I will just think "Okay, I wasn't supposed to win today because I have something in store next race" or if I won a race it's because it was my day to win. Having that confidence and hope strengthens my faith.


Describe the biggest challenge in your athletic career. How did you overcome it?
I would have to probably say adjusting to different training philosophies. Southern track and West Coast track have different training philosophies. In the South, it's mostly about hard work. On the West Coast, it's more technical. They work on your form more. I think adjusting from one style to another has presented a challenge because I am still in the process of adjusting to it.

What was your favorite track memory?
After regionals in high school my senior year on a bus ride back from Texas Tech with my team. We had won regionals and we were number 1 going to state. Our bus ride back was so fun and it was really memorable. Everyone was happy and excited.

Describe the team dynamic for your 4x4 relay race.
A lot of people think that a relay team is built on four of the fastest runners but it actually stems from the chemistry of all four runners. Basically when you have four runners who are familiar with each other then you are most likely going to have a successful relay. In high school, our 4x4 team had been a team for a while and we won state our Junior and Senior year. That was because we all knew how to hand the stick off and it was muscle memory. I really think chemistry upon a relay team is what connects the team.


What do you like to do outside of track and school?
I like taking pictures. I also like going to the beach and shopping. And watching Netflix of course.

Who inspires you?
My high school coach, Coach Paul. And my dad as well.

What do you miss most about home when you are in LA?
My friends, family and home itself.

Goals for this year?  
I would like to go to nationals.

What motivates you everyday?
Coach Paul sends me motivational quotes every morning and that gets me going everyday.




"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." -Colossians 3:17

Leon Powell Instagram
Title: "Live & Grow"- Casey Veggies