I was a little nervous going into the McDonald's Game being that it was my first time being around all the top players in the country. There were a couple players I hadn't met, so I was kinda shaky.
I flew in from New Hampshire by myself. When I got in, they had a representative waiting for us. I rode in a bus with Travis Garrison and a girls player from New Jersey. We were probably the first three people there. I had my videocamera and I was taping everything.
When we first arrived at the hotel, the only one there was Jason Fraser. We got along great and became good friends. We were just getting our gear – out jersey, shoes and we were signing basketballs.
Then they asked me, Jason, Elijah (Ingram) and Travis to do an interview with NBC so we all took a ride to Basketball City. On the way there, we were all joking around. When we got there, we found out the interview guys were sick and we went all the way there for nothing.
When we got back, everybody's there – everybody arrived – we had chill-out time and I got a lot of footage. We found out all the rules and regulations and then everyone went to their rooms.
When I first got there I didn't know who my roommate was. Then I found out it was J.J. Redick and I thought, ‘this is a treat.' He's already been my roommate at the USA Basketball Camp. I got there and we started talking. The next thing you know I come back and he's gone. His stuff's still in the room, but Michael Thompson's roommate hadn't come yet. J.J. stayed there until Thompson's roommate, DeAngelo Collins, got there. I told Raymond (Felton) that the Dookie betrayed me.
The best part was probably the way we bonded on the buses. There was always a conversation. Amare (Stoudemire), me, Carmelo (Anthony) and Dee Brown were always arguing – about stuff like who's the best player in the NBA to who are the best five players to who's better – Vince Carter or Tracy McGrady.
We ate a lot of McDonald's and met a lot of important people while we were in New York. I think the highlight was watching the Slam Dunk in the middle of Times Square. I was with my parents and all the other guys. We didn't know what they were doing – they told us we were going to eat at McDonald's and then they surprised us.
The main reason why we won the game was because of the way we practiced. Our practices were harder than most NBA practices. We always competed. I was the only one out there talking smack – me and Amare.
I felt I had something to prove during the practices. I still feel I have to do the same thing next year. I have a chip on my shoulder and after all my accomplishments, I still feel I don't get the respect I deserve.
I think I helped set the tone in the practices with my leadership. I was getting people in the huddle and just setting the tone with the defense. I tried to lock players down in practice. Even when Carmelo took breaks, I was on him all the time. This was all in front of NBA scouts. I don't really care what they were thinking.
I honestly felt that the most impressive guys were Sean (May) and Raymond. We were all so unselfish in practice. Whenever we got the ball, we never looked to shoot it right away. We looked to see who had the mismatch. That's how all three of us were.
I don't think any of the guys are ready for the NBA right now. Athletically, Amare could compete in the NBA, but he's got a lot of growing to do. If he goes to college for two years, he'll be a number one pick. He's got to love the game – he's just going for the money.
In the next installment, Rashad talks more about the McDonald's Game and recaps the Capital Classic. Stay tuned ...