In the third installment of “Caner-Medley’s Corner,” Nik finally gets back on the court. He also gives a glimpse inside the not-so-exciting side of his life, and shares a couple photos from his home in Astana.
One of things I’m going to miss the most when I retire from basketball is game day. There is no way to simulate the way I feel the day of a game, from when I wake up until the ball goes up it’s an excitement that is unmatched.
I’m not the type to get all fired up and run around rah rahing, for me the day is a slow, focused, progression.
I woke up Tuesday morning; the day of my first game back since I went down with a back injury in our last preseason game roughly 70 days prior, especially anxious. I had only two practices of 5 on 5 with my teammates in the days leading up, which isn’t really sufficient to feel prepared physically for a game.
With that being said, I felt like I could go out and at least give us an energy boost in a game that matched us up with the only undefeated team in our division, and gave us an opportunity to secure ourselves a spot in the Eurochallenge Final 16.
The game was at 5pm, a little too early to get a morning shoot around in, so instead coach had us come in at 11 to watch some scout video. I didn’t really pay any attention to the video accidentally. I spent most of the 45 minutes visualizing myself back on the court, making my first shot, moving without limitations, and being active.
I prepare myself mentally with what equates to basically a to-do list in each particular game. In this unique case, on top of my list was making sure I was extra vocal on defense.
Making shots on any given night is not something we can control as players, we can focus on taking good shots and putting ourselves in a position to be successful, but there are certain things on the basketball court we can control no matter what.
I visualized myself talking on the defensive end to get myself engaged in the game and funnel my nervous energy in a controllable way. That way, as my friend Mike Nappi always reminds me, I would be able to focus on something that no matter how I feel physically, at least I’ll be able to get my feet wet and feel like I made a positive impact on the game.
After film, I had my driver (a cool perk of playing here, we all have 24 hour drivers) take me home so I could get a quick pre-game meal in and lay down for a little bit before I had to be back at the gym by 3:30.
I made sure I arrived extra early so I could get a few hundred shots up and try to create some sort of rhythm.
I have been a starter for the majority of my career but my coach told me before the game that he was going to bring me off the bench. I would have felt more comfortable using warmups to propel me into the game but it was an understandable move on his part.
I spent the first several minutes of the game on the bench feeling like I was about to go into game 7 of the NBA finals. I had been waiting more than two months to get back and I put a lot of pressure on myself to showcase to the fans, organization, and most importantly my coach that they chose the right guy to come lead this group.
Obviously nobody expected me to come in and be firing on all cylinders, but no matter what I always hold myself to the highest standards.
Coach finally called my name with a few minutes left in the 1st quarter, and as many of you will probably not be surprised I got my first shot up the first time I touched the ball!
That thing was money in the bank, although there was a massive wind gust from the basketball gods at the last second that caused the ball to go innn and out… no worries, next possession I got another shot up , and this time the basketball gods said they saw me at the Expo everyday at 730am getting shots up and running sprints when I was home Portland recovering, so it dropped for me, and so did my next three shots, en route to a solid 9 points and a couple assists in the first half.
I sat a good majority of the third quarter, after playing the entire second quarter, and finished the game strong with a late 3 pointer to take the lead and a drive and kick assist for the eventual game winning 3 from one of my teammates who had it going.
After the game I was packed with adrenalin. I waited for our coach to congratulate us on beating an unbeaten team and I headed back to the court to get up a few hundred more shots.
I like to shoot after games a lot because that extra work when you are tired will ALWAYS pay off. You never know when, but eventually late in a big game you will have that small edge on your opponent.
It was a relief to get that first one under my belt! We had a well deserved day off on Wednesday, which I spent lying around doing what I do best over here, watching movies.
When I’m not in the gym you can find me in front of the computer watching something. My go-to’s are Sons of Anarchy, Scandal, Ray Donovan, The Voice, and Homeland to name a few.
I have watched just about every movie known to man and I just watched one last night that I highly recommend, especially to young athletes. Its called Seven Days in Utopia, it has a great message about appreciating the process of learning as opposed to being fixated on the result. Check it out!
Until next time, keep me in your prayers, as much as I like you guys I’m not trying to be back home anytime soon!
Here are some highlights of Nik in his first game back with Astana: