The 2019-20 NBA season was cut short for everyone, but especially for Victor Oladipo. The Pacers star missed the first half of the campaign rehabbing from his ruptured quad injury suffered last year, and was steadily working his way back into All-Star form as Indiana made its push for playoff seeding.
The hope was that by the time the playoffs rolled around, Oladipo would be back to his old self, making the Pacers a very difficult out in the Eastern Conference. The Pacers had won four of his last five games, and his final outing — a three-point loss to Boston — was by far his best, going for 27 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
With the league going on hiatus right as Oladipo was finding his form, he’s had to try and keep that momentum going at home, a place he’s been all too familiar with the past year-plus during the grueling rehab that kept him out of the lineup for a calendar year. Oladipo spoke with Dime on Tuesday on behalf of Motorola Razr about how he’s handling the hiatus, from training to new hobbies he’s found to master and keep his competitive juices flowing, as well as fashion, the evolution of his style, and the Flip Your Look challenge he’s partnered with Motorola on to get fans to show off their best “tunnel walk” looks and raise money to get healthcare workers much needed PPE.
First, how are you doing and what are you doing to fill the time at home?
I’m good. I’m doing well, just trying to stay out the way. I turned my garage into a weight room, so I’ve been working out, trying to keep my quad strong and get my body stronger and take my body to another level. Other than that, I’m just trying to stay out of the way. Stay safe, stay healthy, and just continue to try and build my strength and my stamina as much as possible.
You seemed to be finding that rhythm again on the floor in your last five games, especially your last one, before the hiatus. How do you try to keep that positive momentum going with what you’re able to do at home?
I mean, at the end of the day, it was a great game but it was just one game. It really doesn’t define me, it doesn’t define the player I am or who I want to be. It was a great game and we lost, so at the end of the day, it’s in the past and I’m just focused on my mind. Working on my mind and my body, keeping my game as sharp as possible.
You spent a year rehabbing and recovering and that caused you to spend a lot of time at home, were there things you started doing then to pass the time that you found you really liked and have helped you over the last couple months?
I’ve actually gotten really good at ping pong. I just started playing this past summer, and I’m starting to get better and better at it. Play it pretty much every day and every night now, so, ping pong is one thing I’ve acquired or learned how to play in my rehab time and through this quarantine time.
It keeps the hand eye coordination sharp, so there’s some benefit there.
You’re known for dressing well and being a one of the league’s more fashionable guys. How would you describe how your style has changed since you got in the league?
Oh man, my style has changed drastically since I first got in the league. I think over the time period of seven years I’ve figured out what I like and don’t like, and what I’m comfortable in, you know, what I feel good in. I’ve tried different looks and I’ve tried different styles, but I’ve found what fits best for me. So, simple, yet, has a twist to it. Just like my personality. My thinking has changed a lot and it’s grown over the years and it’s going to keep getting better I feel like.
How important is that? I’ve talked to other guys and they say similar things about how you can’t force it. Fashion has to be about what you are and what you’re like. How did you find those things along the way?
You gotta try stuff. I mean, you gotta try stuff on, you gotta try different looks, you gotta be uncomfortable in order to find what fits you and what makes you feel comfortable. At the end of the day, fashion is unique, and I think that’s what people don’t understand is that when you wear what you wear and as long as you feel comfortable in it, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s just your style, and you can get that and learn that from a lot of people. Just make it your own, and once you make it your own then it’s no one else’s and that makes it special.
Has the extra time at home given you a chance to try new fits and combinations of things in your closet?
Yeah, definitely. I’m in my other house in Orlando right now, so I’ve got a whole different wardrobe. So I’ve been looking at it and trying to put things together and stuff like that. It’s been fun doing that too.
Can you tell us what you’re doing with Motorola Razr and the Flip Your Look challenge and how fans can get involved?
Basically it’s the Flip Your Look challenge with Motorola and their new Razr phone, and anyone can basically put together their best look or their “tunnel walk” look. So like us, for example, walking into the arena that’s kind of like our runway and our chance to show our style and our personality in what we wear. So, we’re getting fans to do that at home, and every time they do it and post #flipyourlook [and tag @motorolaus] $50 goes to the IEDC Foundation to help fight the coronavirus and to pay for masks [and PPE], too. So it’s for a good cause. At the end of the day, it’s something that’s fun and energetic and brings positivity, but it’s helping the world and that’s what it’s all about. In order to affect change, we’ve got to do something to change.
How important was it to you to find something that you could do to, as you say, try and impact that change? We’ve seen a lot of guys around the league and teams doing different things and using their platforms. How important is that at a time like this for you?
It’s very important, especially right now as the world is kind of at a standstill. At the end of the day, one person or a few people aren’t going to change things in our world today. You need everybody. It doesn’t mean you have to affect change the way I do or your next door neighbor or someone you might look up to. You just have to do it in your own way, and if everyone can do that, we can create a chain effect and eventually our world will be better and we can definitely bounce back from this. But we’re going to need everybody to do so. That’s just our duty and obligation to affect change, especially in a time of crisis like this. We’ve got to do whatever we can to help, and that’s what I’m trying to do and I know that my peers and colleagues are trying to do the same.