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NBA Media Day: For Victor Oladipo, last year was last year

Shrugging off compare-and-contrast expectations, Victor Oladipo talked of expectations in his terms while also touching on music, movies, and “pregame rituals.”

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NBA: Indiana Pacers-Media Day Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

One of the first questions brought to Victor Oladipo during his Media Day press conference was whether or not the surprise success from last season would result in higher expectations for the Indiana Pacers this year. “I just think a little differently,” Oladipo responded. “Every year you have expectations, right?”

Oladipo would point out that the compare-and-contrast brand of expectations weren’t the focus of the team. The need to think in terms of what has to be accomplished compared to last season in order to feel satisfied doesn’t mesh well with his day-to-day focus. As he put it, a mindset where they simply focus on winning that night, not to look ahead or behind, and just be in the there and now is what is most important.

That level of day-to-day focus helped Indiana to their success last season and keeping that same focus will be imperative to what would be defined as improvement by those outside of the team. Oladipo isn’t simply planning to bring that and nothing else. He worked this offseason to leave no stone unturned. The regrets he had from last year couldn’t carry over. If there was a higher expectation from Oladipo, it was in saying, “I had that feeling (of regret) last year, I don’t plan on having that feeling this year.”

“Read the game, play the game,” he said. A surefire way to be sure you don’t have those same regrets is to leave everything on the floor. He was sure his teammates will do the same, especially after bringing teammates to Miami during the offseason. The interactions made that mini-camp special with their camaraderie bringing them closer on and off the court. Even Bojan Bogdanovic, who was absent due to his national team, didn’t miss a beat upon rejoining the team on Media Day.

That chemistry as a chance to be a special ingredient to Indiana’s success this upcoming year. They found success last year with a day-to-day mentality, but that same focus with an offseason mini-camp from Oladipo as an established leader could give the Pacers an extra advantage as the season hits its dog days. Oladipo even spoke of the new players with a familiarity, talking of his existing relationship with Tyreke Evans and having been teammates with both Doug McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn on previous teams.

As for specific improvements Oladipo himself made in the offseason, he held his cards close to his chest. “I can show you,” he said. “In two and a half weeks. I won’t even bring it out in preseason.” He also couldn’t say how the team stacked up to the top teams in the East like the Boston Celtics, but knows they have the ability to beat anyone because he and his teammates will be prepared.

The most viral part of Oladipo’s press conference was him talking about pregame rituals. He talked about being the first in and the last out, saying he stole it from Reggie Miller and then talked about his own need to watch one of a handful of movies and have the same meal from Noodles & Company before games.

As for why these movies in particular (and by the way, wasn’t A Goofy Movie part of this)? It comes down to a peace of mind. Staying focused day-to-day as he hopes to can make one understandably anxious, so putting these on and recalling each scene with a relaxing nostalgia (while no doubt singing along to “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”) can make things all that more feathery.

Oladipo also touched briefly upon his favorite music of the summer, talking glowingly of new releases from Lil Baby and Eminem, while teasing new music of his own. When asked about his recent comments about the upcoming Space Jam sequel, he made it clear that he needed to be a Monstar and didn’t even care who his teammates were.

Outside of the press conference, Oladipo, who was featured with Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore in unveiling the the laceless Air Jordan XXXIII’s, showed off his own PE at Media Day.