On the the first of the two preseason games at the Smith Center -
"October 17 will be a very big day for me and Sean May. Brendan Haywood and Antawn Jamison playing for the Washington Wizards are also coming down, with a chance to bring their NBA careers back to where it all started. We're getting a chance to come and play down here in the Smith Center - in front of our fans, basically our home, because we're Tar Heel blue no matter what. It'll be a wonderful moment, we've had a lot of great times here. It's going to be kind of an emotional moment for me - I'm looking forward to it."
Can you talk more about what it'll feel like being back in the Smith Center?
"It's going to feel like my freshman year in college - my first time running out there. It'll feel different coming out there in a Bobcats uniform, but it's still going to feel good being back at Carolina again."
Did you make it back up to Carolina at all during your rookie season?
"I caught the Cleveland State game and the Duke game, of course. Me and Sean drove down."
You had a strong rookie year, can you talk about what you're working on this offseason?
"Basically everything - I'm not going to single one thing out that I need to work on. I'm trying to make myself stronger so I can make the team better."
Where do you go this summer to train?
"I just stayed in Charlotte most of the time. Went out to Chicago for a little bit, went out to Vegas a bit, and at the beginning of the summer me and Antwan were working out before he went off with the Olympics team."
And you were in Chapel Hill some this summer?
"Yeah, I came down like a week after the season was over and a then month ago I came down with Sean, Marvin, Jawad, Dave, Jackie - a whole bunch of us for kind of like a family reunion. We came down to beat up on the young fellas a little bit."
Did you give any advice to the current team?
"I try to talk to them, let them know what it'll be like and let them know what kind of person Coach Williams is and what he'll expect out of them."
What's the biggest difference being an NBA player as opposed to a college player?
"Traveling - that's it. In and out of hotels, on and off planes, might get home 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning and have to drive home and get up the next morning for practice. It wears and tears on your body, but that's the lifestyle I chose and I love the game of basketball, so I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world."
Has playing with Sean been everything you'd hoped it would be?
"Yeah, at the beginning of the season, before he got hurt - he didn't play 75 percent of the season. This year it'll be a big key [having him out there]."
How much did you keep in touch with Marvin during last season?
"I talk to Marvin all the time. We basically treat him like our little brother and still do to this day."
What about Rashad?
"We keep in touch with everybody. Rashad is fighting a very tough injury with his knee, so hopefully he can make it back toward the end of the season."
What differences should Carolina fans expect to see with an NBA game here?
"It's so much faster. And that says a lot playing here at Carolina, because all we did here was run, run, run. Shot clock is shorter and the speed of the game is so much faster."
Last year you made the prediction that you'd make the playoffs, and late last season the team got hot - what are your thoughts on the Bobcats' outlook this season?
"My thoughts are still the same. If Gerald and Emeka had been there, and Sean had been there, I think we would have made the playoffs last year. So if we can keep those guys healthy, I'm going to stick to that. ... Can we make the playoffs? Definitely. We have that type of talent and I have that much confidence in my team."
What was the biggest difference your first year in the NBA?
"Just adusting to that level. Just waiting on your moment. In high school and college, I'm use to starting and playing all the time. Coming into the NBA, I didn't play that much or start, so it was a transition and waiting on my moment. And when I got my moment, I took advantage of it."
How did playing in the ACC prepare you for the NBA?
"Just like the NBA, you've got to be prepared in the ACC no matter who you play every night. No matter if it's Duke or Clemson. Everybody thinks Clemson is a lower level ACC team, but if you go in there half-stepping, they'll beat you by 20. So the ACC, I think, is the toughest conference in the college level."
What do you like about the city of Charlotte?
"It's a small city that's growing into a big city. And that's what I like, coming from a small town, I like a place like that. I'm not a big city person and I love Charlotte."
What do you like to do in Charlotte?
"I really don't do much - just relax most of the time, work out, play ball, be with my family and friends. That's mainly it."
When you look back at your rookie year with the Bobcats, would you deem it a success?
"I wouldn't say my rookie season was outstanding, but I can't complain. I'm in the NBA - a dream come true. I think we had a good season, won eight more games than we did the first year. Any progress is good, so I think it was a good season."
You seemed to get better as the season progressed, rather than hitting that rookie wall. Why was that?
"There's no such thing as a rookie wall to me. There's no wall. You've just got to mentally know that your body is going to be sore, you're going to get tired at some point, but realize that this is your job - your 9-to-5 - so you've got to do it."
With Michael Jordan as one of your bosses now, has that changed anything about the way the organization is run?
"Everything's still the same to me and looks the same to me. We just have Michael, bringing us more publicity, which is not a bad thing. So now all we've got to do is take advantage of it."
Has he played any one-on-one with you guys yet?
"I'm pretty sure that'll come up in training camp. [laughs]"