Going Back to School

I’m back in the US after a great trip home to Cameroon for my camp.

With the lockout still in effect, I’m trying to find things to do outside of my workouts that I’ve always wanted to do. So I decided to enroll at UCLA for some classes to try to finish my degree in International Development.

On UCLA campus in 2006 (Kurt Miller/ The Press-Enterprise)I’ve wanted to do this for a while. I took two classes online during the previous summer session and now I have four more classes left to get my degree. Depending on how long this lockout goes, I might take more classes and then graduate at the end of the fall. We’ll see how that goes. My goal has been just to knock it off a little bit at a time with online classes during the summer sessions.

I think finishing my degree is a very important thing. I’ve always wanted to have a degree and that’s one of the reasons I went to UCLA. I think a degree from UCLA is something very prestigious and I value that very much. Since I left UCLA early for the NBA, I was committed to coming back and finishing it.

The things I want to do after I’m done playing basketball, like being a sports ambassador for my country, definitely require a degree. It’s also just important to me to have an education.

                                                                                               On UCLA campus in 2006 (Kurt Miller/The Press-Enterprise)

I worked so hard to get to that point and to only have a few classes left, I need to do it. My parents have been on me since I left school about finishing. It’s time for me to make them proud.

WAITING OUT THE LOCKOUT
Other than going back to school, I don’t have any real plans during the lockout.

I saw when the NFL was in lockout, Chad Ochocinco tried out for the MLS. If I ever had a chance to play soccer, I would definitely do it. Soccer was my first love, growing up in Cameroon. I still watch a lot of soccer and love the game. I don’t watch much MLS, but European soccer.

I’m also thinking about traveling a little more. That’s something I love doing. I want to see more things inside the United States. I’ve been to a lot of cities from playing basketball in college and the NBA, but we’re never able to stay long enough to see much outside of the arena. So seeing the States isn’t something I’ve really had a chance to do.

I’d love to just go around, see different places, tourist areas, places like the Grand Canyon. It just depends on the time and opportunity, but if I have a chance to go, I’ll go.

Most of all I’m going to just do more of the things I like to do: working out, talking with my friends, watching TV, playing video games, listening to music and reading.

I love all kinds of music, it all really depends on the mood. Sometimes I just feel like listening to jazz, so then I’ll just end up listening to that for the next three or four days. Then I’ll switch it up to R&B and listen to that for two or three days. Then I’ll go back to my African music, or somebody will send me a rap song and I’ll listen to that for a couple of days.

It just depends, but I like a variety of things and I have friends sending me things all the time, music from back home, Caribbean music, reggae, rap, everything.

SEASON OF UNCERTAINTY
I’m really hopeful that everything will workout with the lockout, but it’s really stressful, especially for me.

Not only do I not know when we’re going to be playing again, but as a restricted free agent, I also don’t know where I will be playing when we do get back to basketball.

It’s a tough situation. Not knowing when you’re going to be playing is one thing. But not knowing where you’re going to be playing is something else. You have your house situation you have to figure out, your family stuff and all kinds of other stuff to go through to get ready. It’s all very stressful and that’s why I hope they can solve this, if not soon, then sooner rather than later.

I can’t even remember the last time I didn’t know when or where I’d be playing basketball again, I guess before the draft, but even then I had a better idea than I do now.

Coming out of college as a guy drafted in the second round, no one really expected me to stick but I ended up starting more than half the games over the last three years, I think that’s success. I’ve strived to be one of the best defenders in the league, one of the most versatile defenders in the league. Those are all positives, but there is always room to improve.

When you look at playing NBA defense from the outside, you don’t realize how hard it is and what else goes into it. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. I’ve always had confidence in my abilities. When I got drafted, I was selected based on my defensive abilities, so I’m not surprised that I’ve been able to do it. I just had to go out there and show I could do it. And I did that, and I’m happy, but now I have to take it to another level.

I’ve had a good three years in Milwaukee and I hope it can continue. The best part was definitely making the playoffs the year before last. It gave us a taste of what having a successful season could be like and that’s a chance that you always want to have. Once you taste the postseason, anything other than that kind of feels like a failure.

There have been tough moments with the Bucks too. Every year it seems like we’ve had seven new guys coming and seven guys leaving in, from the time I got there. That makes it tough to get comfortable. But we do have the same core guys who have stayed for those three years, which has built some good chemistry.

That 2010 playoff team had some really good chemistry and that really helped us, especially defensively, knowing where to cover for each other. That was big for us. We have to try to find that chemistry again and once we do that, we should be a good team then.

With my next contract, I want to be part of a situation where I have a chance to compete for a conference championship and an NBA championship. I want to be on a team that at one point has a chance to compete for those things. I think it can happen in Milwaukee if we all put the work in. But whether it’s there or elsewhere, being a part of that is my ultimate goal.