Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker set down with the Charlotte media for the first time in their young careers and displayed the confidence and focus that made them lottery picks.
At the introductory news conference, the new Bobcats enjoyed the exchange of questions and answers with the media and had some laughs in the process. Both players believe in the concept of team over the individual, which was why neither Biyombo nor Kemba had an expectation to start immediately.
Instead, they said it is about winning games and playing hard regardless of their minutes.
Aside from the joyous meet-and-greet session, Biyombo and Walker said Charlotte is the place they wanted to be. Both maintained they will do whatever coach Paul Silas needs.
Early during the Q-and-A session, Biyombo eliminated any uneasiness Bobcats fans may have of him joining the Bobcats next season.
“I’m going to play in the NBA next season for sure,” he said. “I’m a free agent, so I have no problems.”
Just like he doesn’t believe he will have any contractual problems with his former team in Spain, Biyombo doesn’t see playing center as a problem, either.
“I will be ready,” he responded to a question about his playing center.
Walker also had to eschew a few concerns too. Before the draft he had to deal with critics saying his 6-1 height will be a problem defending other guards in the NBA. Or that he is a shooting guard with a point guard body. Walker, who led Connecticut to the 2011 NCAA Championship and was named the MVP of the Final Four, maintained he is a point guard.
More importantly, he believes competition is good like President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins said when he drafted Walker. The UConn product said his competition with starter D.J. Augustin will be good for the team.
“I love his attitude, and I can tell he is a hard worker,” Walker said about Augustin. “Me and him are going to come with a positive attitude. We are going to come in and work hard. We are going to push guys. I’m going to push D.J. He is going to push the other guys like Tyrus (Thomas). I’m just looking forward to it.”
Once again, he pointed out he had to score in his junior season at UConn to help his team win. He noted it depends on how the game is going if he were going to score or distributed the ball.
“Again, I have been a point guard my whole life,” he said. “Now, ‘the question is can I get guys involved or not.’ But I have been getting guys involved my whole career.”
In addition, Biyombo and Walker had good a feeling about landing in Charlotte after their workouts. Walker believed he had a good performance during his pre-draft workout. Biyombo’s journey to Charlotte was more complicated.
When Bobcats General Manager Rich Cho, who was working for the Portland Trail Blazers in early May, visited Biyombo in Spain. After working out Biyombo, Cho wanted to get the 6-9, 229-pound forward. Cho knew he had to move up in the draft to get Biyombo.
Then Portland fired Cho. As a Bobcat executive, Cho’s feeling didn’t change about Biyombo. The Congo native said Cho told him when he was still in Charlotte he wanted to still draft him. When Cho arrived in Charlotte a couple weeks ago, he still wanted to draft Biyombo with the No. 9 pick. But after several workouts in Spain, Biyombo said Cho knew he had to move up in the draft to select him.
That is when the Bobcats did what was necessary to ensure they landed Biyombo. That meant getting involved with two other teams to make a three-team trade and sending their leading scorer, Stephen Jackson, to another Eastern Conference franchise.
For Biyombo, he was happy to know Charlotte was his new home. But Biyombo didn’t arrive in Charlotte without a few concerns.
“It was like a little funny to me,” Biyombo said. “I was so excited to be here, but I was thinking I was going to get drafted by Toronto, but I wanted to be here. My agent was like ‘take it easy. You will be there.’ Right after the called Jonas Valanciunas at five, and we were waiting for the sixth. Right after the sixth, (my agent) got an e-mail from Rich saying, ‘Bismack will be a Bobcat.’ I was like ‘oh my goodness. I made it.”
Cho said the Bobcats had to make a deal to get the No. 7 pick because the front office believed that the Detroit Pistons would have traded for Biyombo him.
“A lot of times you are speculating, but all our intel we acquired we really felt like Detroit was going to take him at eight,” Cho said. “So, we had to get ahead of them at seven. And we are very happy to get him.”
Cho not only speaks highly of Biyombo as a talent, but he also said the 18-year-old Biyombo is mature, confident, humble and has an affectus personality.
Walker wanted to become a Bobcat too. Unlike Biyombo, Walker didn’t know where he was going until the NBA Commissioner David Stern called his name.
“I was praying,” he said. “When the commissioner called my name out. I was shocked. But I was excited also.”
If you enjoyed this article, please click on the ‘Subscribe’ link to receive free breaking news, updates and feature articles on the Charlotte Bobcats and the Carolina Panthers.