After an outstanding three-year career at Kansas, which included a 2008 NCAA Championship and three Big 12 titles during his tenure, Cole Aldrich was a Lottery pick this June. First selected by the Hornets before being trading to the Thunder on Draft Night, the Bloomington, Minn., native gladly returned to the Midwest. So with everyone’s expectations for the Thunder going through the roof this season, we decided there was no one better to turn to for the inside scoop on life in OKC. In his fourth entry, Cole talks about returning to the NBA from his D-League stint and his first Christmas as a pro.
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After playing in the D-League with the Tulsa 66ers for about two weeks, I’m back with the Thunder. I got called back up before we went to Chicago (Dec. 6), Minnesota and New Orleans for a road trip.
Everything has been pretty much the same as before. The guys were excited to see me back, and I’m really excited just to be back, seeing everybody’s faces again and joking around with them again.
I got a lot out of my D-League experience. I think not only from getting the minutes on the court, but learning different things from the coaches and continuing to work hard. Wherever you’re playing, whatever city you’re in, if you’re on the road or at home, you have to work hard. Take every day as an opportunity to get better.
I didn’t get a big taste of D-League life on the road. We traveled to Dallas one time when I was there, but that was it. It was a little different. We took a big coach bus, and it took four hours from Tulsa to Dallas. It was cool being around those guys because a lot of them went through training camp with us, and some others I played against in college. Like Tweety Carter from Baylor, he’s on the 66ers. I knew him from college. When we played Rio Grande Valley, they had Patrick Patterson, who is a buddy of mine. We’ve known each other since our sophomore year of high school. It helps seeing other rookies going through the same experience as I am and getting to catch up.
Kevin Love is actually a really good buddy of mine, too. I saw him when we played at Minnesota (Dec. 8). I love his rebounding — me being a guy that loves to go up and rebound, it’s really cool to see a good friend of mine doing such crazy things on the court. I mean, him being able to get 31-and-31, I don’t care what level you’re playing at, those are pretty darn good numbers.
One guy who kind of surprised me seeing them play up-close was Darko Milicic. He’s playing really well this year. He’s a real crafty player, not overly athletic, but he really does a good job using his body and he has great feet.
When we’re on the road, personally I like to get out of my hotel room and find a sit-down place to eat. It can be any type of restaurant, whether it’s pasta or steak and potatoes. Usually a few guys will go with each other. The cool thing is having a few older guys on our team, they’ve been to these cities a number of times so they know the real good places to eat.
When I have free time at home between practices, games and working out, I’m playing a lot of Call of Duty at the house. It’s fun, but it’s terribly addicting.
So my parents are coming down this week for Christmas, my Dad’s birthday is December 31st, and my parents’ anniversary is on the 30th. And my girlfriend is coming in for a few days, too. So it’s kind of a crazy month for me. I’m excited, though. Holiday time is always really fun and it’s just about being a family. But it is a little weird because this will be my first Christmas without snow.
I’m buying presents for my parents, my older brother, my two best friends, my girlfriend and we’re doing a Secret Santa for the team. We drew names out of a hat and you have to get something for whoever you picked. We didn’t have a price limit; it’s just kind of whatever you feel comfortable with spending.
I sure hope people aren’t expecting me to get them some crazy gifts, because I’m cheap. I’ll get ’em something nice, but nothing over the top. But I think everybody that’s close to me, they know that about me. If they want a car or something like that for Christmas, they’re talking to the wrong person.
What do I want for Christmas? I don’t even know. I told everybody just to get me something you think I’d need. I have a lot of electronics and what-not. I guess some movies and things I can use around the house.
But the biggest difference with this Christmas is that we’re playing. We have a game against Denver at home. It’s pretty cool because when you think of Thanksgiving you think of everybody sitting around watching football, so now on Christmas a lot of people will be watching basketball and we’ll be one of those teams.
Until next time…