I was fortunate enough– thanks to the Knicks PR department, New York’s accommodating rookie forward, and some good luck— to get an interview with Chris Copeland. Chris is a 28 year-old rookie who has a polished offensive game that he developed in Europe. Despite a constantly changing role in the rotation, Chris has been able to produce in every role that he has been asked to play. He is among the league leaders in points per 36 minutes, and his defense, passing, and rebounding have improved since he arrived in the league. He has quickly become a fan favorite due to his hard work, his scoring ability, his hair, and his willingness to interact with fans. Chris has had to go through some rookie hazing—photos of him wearing a onesie surfaced on the Internet in late December—, but it is clear that Chris has earned the respect of his teammates, his coaches, and Knicks fans everywhere. Here is my Q&A with Chris:
Tommy: Hi, Mr. Copeland. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. You recently made the switch from Europe to the NBA. What has been the most difficult part of the transition? Also, what has been the most noticeable difference between Europe and the NBA?
Copeland: The most difficult has been the travel/schedule… I didn’t know how much of a toll the schedule can take on you. It’s a much bigger adjustment than I had expected.
Tommy: What is your early impression of Knicks fans? Is there a noticeable difference playing at MSG as opposed to other large arenas?
Copeland: Knicks fans are amazing. I feel at home everywhere. Even in London I felt like we had a home game. There is just something special about NY basketball. As for MSG the legacy speaks for itself… I’m blessed to say I have played there.
Tommy: Tell us about the hair. How do you get your hair to look like that, and how long have you had the dreads?
Copeland: It’s just my thing. I have only had them a couple years now but I think they fit my personality.
Tommy: As Knicks fans know, you are a scorer. How has playing with an elite scoring talent such as Carmelo Anthony helped change your game?
Copeland: I wouldn’t say my game has changed too much, but when we’re on the floor together he makes my life much easier. He attracts so much attention… it makes things easier offensively.
Tommy: What is the worst hazing prank the Knicks have pulled on you so far?
Copeland: Probably the infamous onesies for the flights to and from California.
Tommy: As we know, your minutes have been changing all season. You have had some games where you haven’t played at all, and you have had some games where you have been in the starting lineup. What is it like to be a ROOKIE starting on one of the most prestigious, talented teams in the NBA?
Copeland: It’s unbelievable… a dream come true. I’m super blessed just to be here in the first place, but to actually start makes it even better.
Tommy: What motivated you to become a professional athlete and what advice would you give to young players aspiring to reach the NBA?
Copeland: My family… I’ve always loved this game, but my mother and brother pushed me to never give up on my dreams and to work as hard as possible to achieve them. That’s the advice I would give…. Work as hard as you can and never give up, No matter what it looks like or how long it takes.
Tommy: Thank you Mr. Copeland. Go Knicks!