The Texas Legends, the D-League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, hosted their 2016 Media Day on Tuesday at Dr. Pepper Arena. Players and coaches spoke with media and took the sports version of their yearbook photo in preparation for the upcoming season, which starts November 12th at home vs. the Maine Red Claws.
Media day is an informative and lighthearted event, with excitement abundant in every word spoken and every step taken. It’s almost the first day of the season after all. Closer each day and nearly time to do what these gentlemen came here to do.
It’s basketball season, folks.
One of five players returning to the Legends this season is 2015 NBA second round pick Satnam Singh. The 7 foot 2 big man is excited for his second pro season, and has some new kicks to go along with the new year.
“I just got these last month,” Singh says as he directs me downstairs to his size 20’s. “I made them myself. Custom made. I figured out which color I needed and sent it over.”
Singh, who aspires to be the first NBA player from India, quickly became a fan favorite in the interactive Legends community. Back home, he’s somewhat of a rock star. But that’s not his priority.
“I never think about (my celebrity status). I am who I am. I just think if I do a good job then teams will want me.”
But he is indeed grateful for the support.
“I really appreciate my fans. I’m thankful for the love they show me. I’m really proud of myself, my family and for Indian people who helped me get to this level.”
Two days after being selected 9th overall in the D-League draft, Keith Hornsby is ready to rock and roll with the Legends. With so much basketball on his mind, I asked him what he did this summer for some fun.
“I attended my Dad’s music festival in Williamsburg, Virginia called the ‘Funhouse Fest’ for three days,” Hornsby pronounces through a big smile. “It was great. I’m a big music fan of all sorts so it was fun being there.
“I don’t get to see my whole family that much so it was great seeing them and experiencing some great music with my dad playing. My girlfriend from Louisiana came up as well. Seeing all them together was a unique experience.”
Hornsby loves his music and uses it as fuel for the basketball fire.
“A lot of it is how it affects my mind. If i’m feeling down music can snap me out of my mood. Music hypes me up before games. I just like it, it’s kind of just a part of my soul. I like all kinds of music.
“Iron Maiden, stuff like ACDC. I listen to a lot of Disturbed. ‘The Knight’ and ‘The Vengeful One’ from them. It’s mostly rock, kind of metal. But sometimes big epic scores, movie soundtracks. From National Treasure I like the track ‘Ben.’ Oh man this is good. I rarely get to talk about this!”
While he doesn’t play an instrument, he says that is just temporary.
“I will one day, I can promise you that.”
I think he’s busy enough. Hornsby also has a special request for Legends fans.
“If they see me around in Frisco, I’d love an Arizona iced tea. That’s one of my favorite drinks. I’ll thank them for eternity.”
Moments after the microphone goes off, he nudges me and says “oh yeah, the London has Fallen soundtrack is great, too.”
Along with Hornsby, Jameel Warney is one of the other five Texas Legends who spent training camp with the parent club Mavericks. Warney’s approach to the game is simple. Enjoy yourself, improve yourself.
“Everyday get better and have fun. Basketball is fun. You can’t be uptight about anything. You’re doing what you love everyday so you might as well make the best of it.
“I’m gonna come in everyday, work my hardest, try to be the best player on the court and the best player I can be and be the best teammate.”
Warney can’t wait to see the Legends supporters at the games this season.
“I can’t wait to get to know the fans, I hope the fans can’t wait to get to know me. It’s gonna be an exciting season.”
Also joining Hornsby and Warney from Mavs camp are Kyle Collinsworth and C.J. Williams.
Collinsworth got to meet one of his idols during his time with the Mavs. You might be able to guess who.
“I grew up a huge fan of Dirk Nowitzki,” the 6’6” guard tells me. “Just being around him in the locker room and just joking with him, just to see how down to earth he is and how nice he is and how he took care of me. I’m just a guy trying to make the roster so for him to kind of say ‘what’s up’ and talk to me, he’s just a great dude and there’s a ton of great people there.”
The Brigham Young University graduate is not only a big fan of the game but a student, too.
“I love to watch and take little pieces from everybody. I kind of take what I can from people and apply it to my game.”
Collinsworth ventured to the Bahamas in the off-season with his wife.
“We went on a couple of hiking trips. I’m from Utah so there’s big mountains there. That was really cool.”
As for the season ahead, he knows where he wants to go with his game and has a plan, which is just as important as getting there.
“I set goals for myself, not specifically ‘gotta do this or gotta do that.’ I have a direction where I want to be and things that I need to work on. That’s why I’m excited to be here, to get out there and work on those things and gain confidence in those areas I need to work on.”
I asked him what he wants Legends fans to know about him before they see him take the court.
“Just that I care, that I take this stuff serious. I take the sport seriously from all the little things like eating healthy and off the court stuff. Just that I’m invested and love doing what I do.”
C.J. Williams also spent some time in the sun with the time off in the calendar.
“I took my girlfriend to Savannah Beach. She’s from Europe and had never been so I took her there.”
If Williams isn’t saying a lot during post game meet and greets, don’t take it personally.
“I’m quiet and not very outspoken until I’m comfortable,” he says. “But once I’m comfortable I have a big personality.”
Everything’s bigger in Texas, and former Harlem Globetrotter Tydran Beaty brings a state sized appetite to the Legends.
“I’m a really good cook,” he exclaims with a wide grin. “Steak is my specialty. Macaroni and cheese, I know how to make that homemade. Chicken, too. I love grilling.”
Along with cooking, Beaty played pool and went bowling “a lot” when he wasn’t in the gym.
“I actually just moved to the area so I got a chance to get used to playing out here as far as competition and getting good skill work,” he offers about his offseason workouts. “I had a really good summer, a really good trainer who took him time and helped me out as far as my mechanics, footwork, stuff like that.”
The 2016-2017 Legends are not short on personality, that much is certain. Coach Bob MacKinnon stresses the familiarity of surroundings shared by several of his guys.
“I think it helps that five of the guys we have on the roster were together at Mavs training camp for the better part of a month,” MacKinnon declares. “There’s a great chemistry there.
“Then you add in guys who were here previously. Manny Harris, Patrick Miller, Deng Deng, Satnam Singh and Andre Dawkins. So there’s five more guys. There’s a bond already between guys.”
Coach Mac is quick and to the point with what fans will see starting November 12th.
“We’re gonna play hard. We’re gonna play hard. We’re gonna play hard and put it out for you everyday.”