Jan Vesely on Mental Toughness, Team Chemistry and Coffee After Practice [Interview Translation]
Another translated Jan Vesely interview, eh? Vesely is already ingrained into Wizards lore, for better or worse. Sixth overall pick, from the Czech Republic—it’s an interesting case study of how the wholesome kid who quaintly kissed his girlfriend on draft night, who’s known for pandering to American pixel sensibilities with the dunk, has already gone in an irreversible direction in the eyes of many.
The “Dunking Ninja” they called him—yea, well I wouldn’t trust him playing “Fruit Ninja.” The “Air Wolf” some have dubbed Vesely—yea, well he still seems to be sucking on the teet of the mother wolf.
With barely two years of experience, one of them being drastically reduced because of the lockout, Vesely isn’t on an even plane looking to improve, he’s trying to climb out of a hole. And he’s got the weight of Ernie Grunfeld’s head on his shoulders.
Vesely lacks confidence, partially (perhaps mostly) because he lacks strength. But at this point, simply getting stronger won’t get him a whole-hearted look from Randy Wittman. Only a jump shot can save him. Maybe free throws, too. Because those are the most egregious examples of where Jan-boy needs to grow a pair.
Below, TAI’s Lukas Kuba provides the latest translation of a Jan Vesely interview with the Czech media outlet 5 Plus 2.
Basketballer Jan Vesely Ready For Fight
June 8, 2013 – via www.5plus2.cz
translated by Lukas Kuba (@Luke_Mellow)
Now that you’re home, can you assess your second season in the NBA?
In spite of how the season began to unfold (12 losses in a row), it was certainly a successful one in the end. Everyone was satisfied, and we hope that we continue those performances from the end of the season—when we were winning games—into the next campaign. And that at the beginning of next season, we get as many wins as possible.
And when it comes to assessing your performances?
Of course, it could have been better. But it was just my second season in the NBA season, and in the beginning I struggled with injuries as well. Moreover, there were some factors coming into play that I couldn’t influence. But, it’s true that I definitely could’ve played better. And that’s why during the summer I’m going to try to work hard, so that I’ll play in a lot more games next season.
Do you think that the reasons behind your DNPs were purely performance-related?
I cannot answer that. But it’s only on myself how I’m going to play and how I’m going to be ready. And whether the coach puts me in the game, that’s on him. I really don’t know whether I didn’t play in some games due to, perhaps, not being a coach favorite, or if it was merely related to my performances.
The fact that you didn’t play in some games at all, was it rather depressing or, on the contrary, motivating?
Some out of both. It depended on how I played and if I played [at all]. Although I was fighting with myself, I tried to work hard in order to be ready in every second.
What did this season show you? Was there anything illuminating for you?
[The season] was definitely illuminating for me—[I know] I get nothing for free. I gotta earn that spot [in the rotation] and continue working in order to get a chance [to play].
Can we say that, thanks to your stint in Washington, you are mentally tougher now?
I think I’m always mentally tough. But it’s just [that] I went into a new world. I knew that I had to start from scratch again, and that I have to be prepared to fight for that position [on the team]. It’s not like in Partizan [Belgrade], where I already was a proven player.
Do you think these two years in America have changed you and made you a different ballplayer in comparison with your Partizan career?
I think I’m the same ballplayer. But it’s true that I have to improve some things. I know about it and now, during the summer, I want to work on them. And then we’ll see how it manifests itself and in what direction it goes.
Generally, in the United States only winners are acknowledged, so here’s the question: Didn’t all that losing affect the chemistry on the team and relationships between players?
Our [Wizards] collective was cool. We tried to be positive and to work on everything that wins games. Players weren’t getting fed up with each other. Everybody, together, we tried to stop the wave of defeats, and then to start winning.
In the environment of Czech sports, it’s typical that players go out to have coffee together. Do you encounter this custom in Washington, too?
No at all. Americans are rather a nation of individualists. And this doesn’t apply only for basketball, I think in general. I must admit I miss those sit-downs [for a meal/drink]. In Belgrade, I was used to hanging out with my guys [teammates] after practice, sitting in a café for an hour and a half. In Washington, there’s no such thing.
So are you prepared stay on the Wizards team next season, or is there a possibility you could come back to Europe?
I’m definitely staying in Washington, where I have a guaranteed contract fot next season. And as long as there will be a chance to play, I definitely won’t ask for a trade. But as I already said, obviously I know that I have to continue working hard.
EuroBasket 2013 is approaching, can [Czech] national team coach Budinsky count on your services?
I am ready to represent [my country]. Right now, various organizational matters are being dealt with, such as securing the insurance of my contract and the like. Regarding our ambitions for the European championships, first we have to get together and then we’ll see. I’ve not spoken about our ambitions with the coach yet, nor about the positions of particular players.