John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks sat down with the media in London this weekend, as part of the NBA Crossover Exhibition in Westfield, White City. Collins spoke on a variety of topics including his thoughts on London and the NBA London Game, Chelsea winning the Europa League, the Hawks’ chances next season and idolising Kobe while growing up.
How have you found your time in London so far?
Collins: “I love London town, I’m a big city guy, I like big cities. Just being in the city gives me a New York vibe so I’m loving the London town right now. It’s my first time here so I’m just excited being in a city that is as crazy about football as I am, so it’s pretty cool. I’m going to the Man City Arsenal game on Sunday. That’s one of the big reasons I came here, to get a real Premier League game in the UK because I’ve never been to one, so it should be fun.”
Would you like to play in the NBA London Game at some point?
Collins: “Obviously we have to win some games first before they give us the prime-time game, we’ve got to earn it. I would definitely love to play in London. I love being in London, to come here and show my stuff too would be dope.”
You have said in the past that you are a Chelsea fan – how do you think they will do this year?
Collins: “I think we will win the Europa League. I don’t know how well we will do in the domestic league. It’s tough, Liverpool are going to be crazy again, Man City, Arsenal will be good as well. I think if we win the Europa League we don’t have to do much in the Premier League and next year we’ll come back stronger and look to win the Champions League.”
What do you think about Thibaut Courtois leaving for Real Madrid?
Collins: “Yeah, I knew Thibaut was gone for a while. Hopefully Eden Hazard stays – that’s my guy. I know [Roman] Abrahmovic is going to find a way. My favourite player is actually Neymar, I’m a Neymar guy you know. The media is killing him right now but he’s still my guy, whatever happens, I love Neymar. And Mario Balotelli is the OG. He’s one of my favourite guys.”
You’ve been compared to Amar’e Stoudemire at points last season, what do you make of these comparisons?
Collins: “They’re warranted, granted there are a lot of young guys with some bounce dunking on people so I can see why people are saying I could be the next one. You never know what the future holds. Hopefully I am the next Amar’e Stoudemire or even better than that dude, because that dude can really play basketball. We don’t know what the future holds, but the NBA is a whole different place than when Amar’e was playing. I don’t know, only one person knows.”
How are you going to build on what you achieved last season?
Collins: “First thing I’ll try to do is put on some muscle, put on some strength. I think last year being at the four or five spot, you get pushed around a lot by these grown men, these stronger guys. So, for me, I’m going to go in the weight room, put some on some muscle, get my body right. Then the other one is shooting the three. If I can shoot the three on the court then I can stay on the court because I can shoot. In today’s NBA, if you can shoot, you can stay on the court.”
Do you think the Hawks are one of the teams to watch this season?
Collins: “For sure, I think now with the addition of Trae [Young], Omari [Spellman], Kev [Huerter], myself, TP [Taurean Prince], all the young guys – D’Andre [Bembury], Tyler [Dorsey]. Having that young group of talent, especially that we prove ourselves on the collegiate level. And now you put us all together on a big stage, give us time to get the chemistry right, we are going to win some games.”
As a team, what do you think your goal is next season?
Collins: “I honestly think whatever we do winning-wise it’s just to build the chemistry, because having a group of young guys and for those to build together and build solid bonds; you don’t realise how beneficial it is on and off the court, for guys to actually like each other and go out there and know how to actually play together. For me at least, it’s getting the chemistry with my guys right so when we go on the court and hoop we don’t have to worry about anything else. We all love each other.”
When you were growing up who was the guy you wanted to be?
Collins: “First one is Kobe. I think I got a little bit taller than Kobe. Once I knew I was going to be a little bit taller than Kobe that’s when I started watching the taller guys. I shifted my attention over to KG [Kevin Garnett], Anthony Davis, Chris Bosh or Amar’e [Stoudemire]. But growing up, up until about my sophomore year in high school Kobe was always the dude. Once I got to 6″10 I thought I’m not going to be Kobe anymore.”
Source Pitch Media
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