‘I want to be a league superstar,‘ says the player. He talks about his growth this season, his friendship with Saddiq Bey, and good restaurants in Detroit.
Andscape has previously produced NBA diaries with Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors, former NBA star and dunk champion Vince Carter, Trae Young of the Atlanta Hawks, James Wiseman of the Warriors, Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors, and De’Aaron Fox and Josh Jackson of the Sacramento Kings. In a rookie diary this season, Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons, is featured.
In this rookie journal, the 20-year-old will take the reader through the successes, struggles, and joy that come with being the first pick on and off the court, as well as his quest to win the NBA Rookie of the Year in 2022. In addition to being a potential NBA star, the Arlington, Texas native is also the father of a 3-year-old daughter and the 2022 Rising Stars Challenge MVP.
For his fifth rookie journal entry, the former Oklahoma State standout spoke with Andscape on Tuesday.
So far, the rookie of the year race has been a success. I’ve been really impressed with how my rookie class has performed throughout the season. We’ve demonstrated that we’re one of the best classes. In 2020, we had one of the best high school classes ever. It’s been a lot of fun because we were a really good draft class, and we’ve been living up to that throughout our first year.
However, I am still adamant about who I am and where I stand in that race. And I’m sure a lot of folks are ready to write me off after my first couple of games. However, it is what it is. I can only control what I can now and continue to attempt to prove who I am.
I’ve learnt a lot from losing this season, especially from the general emotion I felt when we went on a wild [14-game] losing streak earlier in the season. We’ve also had the pleasure of winning a few games. The emotions are diametrically opposed.
And I’m clear about which side of the fence I want to be on, and I’m ready to dominate this league. I want to be a major league superstar. You can’t do it if you lose. So I’m quite motivated, and it all starts with winning games and doing well.
When I feel like I’ve been hooping since the All-Star break, I feel like there’s some story going around that I only started hooping after the All-Star break. It’s more of a matter of consistency than anything else, and it probably changed about two months ago.
I don’t want to place a time limit on it because I feel like I’ve been hooping for a lot longer than people believe I have. However, it’s possible that no one is watching our games.
On a competition level, Saddiq [Bey] and I felt like we really connected with each other. We both have a strong desire to win and compete. We don’t want anyone to have the upper hand on any of our possessions. We take delight in working hard when we play. And, given who we are, it’s invigorating to spend as much time with him as I do.
So, I really like our dynamic, and I think we’re going to win a lot of games together. Saddiq’s 51 points [against the Orlando Magic on March 17] were remarkable. I was watching the game from the sidelines because I was sick [with a non-COVID-19 sickness]. But after watching the game, I felt a lot better. It was entertaining to watch.
Going into the All-Star break, I thought it would be a good opportunity to step away from the Pistons for a little while. But I was also looking forward to reuniting with the Pistons because I felt like we were making progress. Everyone seemed to be on the same page, and I was in sync. I’ve demonstrated who I am throughout the season.
But now, I feel like I can impose myself on the game by doing whatever I want in every game. As a result, there was a shift in my mentality, and I believe I validated that myself. From there, it was just a matter of keeping consistent and wanting to play hard, wanting to imprint my personality on every game.
I returned to Detroit after the NBA All-Star break in Cleveland and relaxed. Nothing was done by me. I was going to make some moves, but I simply wanted to chill at that point—I needed to rest more than anything, and Cleveland was far away from everything.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to travel to the beach or [a vacation area] and genuinely enjoy it in that amount of time, so I returned home.
For me, winning the Rising Stars Challenge with my team was the highlight of All-Star Weekend, and then being named MVP was the icing on the cake. It was a blast playing against Saddiq and Isaiah [Stewart] in the championship game.
And I enjoy being among all my friends from grassroots [basketball] whenever possible. It’s usually pleasant when I’m with all of them, so I had a great time for the majority of the weekend. I now have the MVP trophy in my possession.
However, I mentioned putting it up in the locker room early on. Because I didn’t want it to be vandalized, I didn’t bring it to the locker room.
I haven’t yet visited Detroit, but I plan to do so after the season is finished. When I’m at home, I’m still in my cot routine. I’d like to go into the restaurant business. Take a look at what’s on the menu. I’ve heard of a few places I’d want to visit. So I’m going to go locate some nice cuisine.
That’s all I need right now: an excellent place to dine. I went to a place called Prime + Proper [in Detroit].I just needed a safe haven. They have a few vegan options. 220 Merrill was my destination. Sabor [Mexican and Mediterranean] is a fantastic dish.
Right now, I have a chef who has been fantastic for me, so I’m eating a lot at home. Pasta. On Monday night, I had [veggie] burgers. The majority of comfort foods appeal to me. She does a fantastic job of making it vegan.
So I don’t have to worry about anything while I’m at home because I can eat comfort food, daily cuisine, and she makes it vegan. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. She’s going to make mac and cheese. pizza. She is the one who creates everything.
I don’t want to eat meat anymore because I’m a vegan. I’ve reached a point where it’s nearly repulsive to me. I’ve done a lot of research and reading on the subject of veganism. So, at this point, I’ve heard so many more things about meat that are disadvantages rather than pros that it’s no longer enticing to me. It’s completely insane. As a vegan, I believe I could eat less. My stomach has shrunk so much that I don’t need as much food because my body can use all of the food I eat.
So far, the NCAA tournament has been entertaining. I’ve seen a lot of games. I just finished watching the TCU-Arizona game, which was fantastic. I saw my dog [TCU guard] Mike [Miles] not get a foul call at half court [at the end of regulation].
However, watching the games has been a lot of fun. It’s also been entertaining since there are some pretty excellent teams out there competing hard. The tournament is one of my favorites. It’s a lovely time of year. There’s a lot of fantastic basketball going on right now.
When I was with [4-seed] Oklahoma State last season, we lost a game that we should have won [against 12-seed Oregon State]. That’s a sensation you’ll never forget, but it is what it is, guy. I’m currently with the Pistons. I’ve got other things on my mind.
Marc J. Spears is Andscape’s senior NBA writer. He used to be able to dunk on you, but he hasn’t done so in years, and his knees are still bothering him.