Duquesne MBB players dish on NBA allegiances

Courtesy of SI | Debatably the NBA’s top player, LeBron James (No. 23) flexes during the 2018 preseason, alongside ex-adversary and new teammate Lance Stephenson.

Adam Lindner & David Borne | The Duquesne Duke

10/18/2018

Following months without NBA action, the Association finally returns this week. Some of DU’s biggest NBA fans — men’s basketball players — talked about what they’re most excited to see during the new season

As of Tuesday evening, the NBA season is underway, with fans in store for another season full of entertainment both on and off the court. Following an offseason loaded with transactions that moved a number of the league’s top dogs to new homes, the league has quite a different look to it this time around.

Believe it or not, some of Duquesne’s biggest NBA fans happen to know how to handle the rock a little bit themselves, and we’re not talking about NBA 2K — we’re talking about Duquesne men’s basketball players.

So, regardless of how excited you may be for college basketball season, take it from the guys that actually play — they can’t wait, either.

Leonard Randall II, for example, says he’s just ready to see the world’s best player finally suit up for his favorite team.

“I’m a LeBron fan now because my favorite team is the Lakers. I’ve always been a Lakers fan, my parents were Lakers fans, it’s just — my household,” Randall, who grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, said. “I was there for the down times for the Lakers, when it was Kwame Brown, and [Kobe] didn’t have a Pau. I was there for the tough times.”

Freshman guard Brandon Wade, hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, echoed the same sentiments as Randall regarding the Lakers.

“I’ve been a Lakers fan since ‘09. Been a big Kobe fan ever since I was young. It was the Mamba Mentality, bro,” Wade said. “It’s just different. He’s a winner, and I always base my game off of him, and my mentality off of him, too.”

Wade went on to say that his favorite Kobe moment is the 81-point performance he had against Toronto.

“Scoring 81 points against the Raptors was just absolutely insane.”

However, other players felt the opposite way about the NBA — instead of following one team in particular, some prefer to follow certain players, or simply the league at large.

Freshman forward Dylan Swingle, a Chillicothe, Ohio native, said that he’s basically just happy to watch LeBron — no matter what uniform he’s sporting.

“I’m a Cavaliers fan, but I’m more of a LeBron fan. So wherever he goes, I’ll root for LeBron,” Swingle said. “But deep down, I’m always a Cavs fan. I doubt [Cleveland] will make the playoffs, but I’d like to see it.”

As a whole, Swingle said he’s ready to see a plethora of things during the new NBA season. Chief among them is The King in his new home in L.A.

“Definitely looking forward to seeing LeBron with the Lakers, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the rookie class is going to play out this year. I feel like that whole rookie class is absolutely loaded,” Swingle said. “I’d like to see how Michael Porter Jr. does; I was a big fan of him in high school.”

Mike Hughes, eligible this season after transferring from Akron and sitting out last year, said he’s also a fan of the game and league overall, and not necessarily any certain entity in particular.

“I don’t have a favorite team because my city doesn’t have a team. I just like good basketball as of right now,” the Kansas City resident said. “I can’t be a regular, cliche kind of person and say LeBron James or Steph (Curry) is my favorite player, so I’ve got to say KD (Kevin Durant). He’s a pure scorer. Nobody scores like he does, and he does it in different ways.”

As for what he hopes to specifically see this year, Hughes said, “I’m hoping the East gets shaken up a little bit this year. Then, obviously the West is going to be the West, with the Warriors, but I feel like there’s going to be more competition for them in the West this year.”

Freshman forward and Norcross, Georgia resident Amari Kelly, says he’s basically a LeBron band-wagoner, but has some other sorts of things he’s looking forward to seeing this season, too.

Having played former Georgia Tech player Josh Okogie in high school, Kelly said he’s excited to see how the ex-Yellow Jacket does with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

“I played against him a few times in high school. I’m kind of excited to see how he does.”

Randall said the same of Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, and added that he thinks the rangy shooter will enjoy an enhanced role within Los Angeles’ offense this season alongside James.

“I played against him a lot in high school. He’s tough. I expect him to be the biggest … He should get most improved player in the league this year, without a doubt,” Randall said.

Gavin Bizeau, a freshman forward from Plainfield, Indiana, said he’s definitely going to pull for the Pacers again this year, but that his favorite player all-time is Mavericks veteran big man Dirk Nowitzki.

A 6-foot-11 forward with a perimeter game, Bizeau didn’t sound like he was lying when he said, “I’m always watching old Dirk highlights trying to replicate his game.” Otherwise, though, Bizeau’s ready for the Pacers this season, and he’s excited for what Victor Oladipo’s got in store.

“I’m excited to see how Vic Oladipo does this year,” Bizeau said. “My trainer back home was his teammate at IU — he was a walk-on — so, like, sometimes, I’ll be able to get in the gym with him. So, we’re kinda cool, and I’m just excited to see how he does.”

So, while some Dukes watch the NBA for specific reasons — LeBron, Kobe, the Lakers, etc., — others watch for other things. Besides, no two fans are ever the same.

For the time being, however, it seems like everyone’s in agreeance regarding at least one NBA-related topic: each respondent picked the Warriors to win the Finals again.

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