Hello EuroLeague fans. As most of you know, this is my first season playing basketball in the EuroLeague and I am excited to be here and experience something new. I will be blogging here a few times during the season to share with you how things are going for me in Tel Aviv.
I am adjusting well to life in Tel Aviv. I’m a foodie and the food here is very, very good. The different styles of restaurants are something that I really enjoy. I have travelled around the world and experienced great food in a host of different countries, but there is such a vast variety of food here. There are good restaurants for fresh sushi. There are great restaurants where you can get nice kebabs, which is one of their specialties. You have great steak and seafood. You are right here on the Mediterranean, so there is great seafood. It’s so fresh and I can appreciate that, because when I lived in Miami, which is on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, I got a really good feel for fresh seafood.
I like to try different things. One of the things I like to do for enjoyment is trying different restaurants. Some people like to have fun playing video games and things like that. I enjoy going to different restaurants, trying their specials and experiencing the culture of restaurants. I try to do that on the road too. We’ve only had a couple road games so far, but I would like to experience different restaurants in other countries. When we are in Greece in the preseason, I went and got a real Greek gyro. In the States we have gyros, but I made sure when I was on the island of Crete in the preseason that I got myself a real Greek gyro.
Another thing that I am really enjoying here is the weather. The weather here is great because where I’m from in Ohio, it’s very cold this time of year. It’s already snowing this time of year. So I am enjoying the weather and the Israeli culture.
What I love to do when I’m not playing basketball is to inspire youth. That’s why I set up the Norris Cole Foundation in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio. The Foundation focuses on helping our youth become better leaders and having better character. That is something that I am very passionate about. It’s very dear to me. I was always into education and community work and I was also an athlete, so that’s what my foundation is about – helping students be better in the community and academically while also being healthy and fit. I majored in health science in college, which is why I’m into fitness and helping people. I initially wanted to be a physical therapist.
I am the president of the foundation, but I have a team back in the States that helps me, so even while I am here, the foundation keeps running. We have a big event on November 25, the Hi Top Classic. It’s a preseason tournament for some of the best high school basketball teams in the Dayton area and the money raised from tickets goes to the foundation for us to run the other projects we have during the year. Even though I can’t be there, my team is there to run it for me. We have conference calls all the time and we talk and e-mail so the work goes on.
We plan three or four big events in the offseason when I am home and able to be more hands on. We have Cole Minds, a reading literacy program, and the Norris Cole Basketball Camp as well. I would estimate that the foundation has helped several thousand kids so far and that is something I’m really proud of.
I also have a clothing line and a website, Coleblooded30.com, where I sell merchandise: different styles of t-shirts, hoodies, hats, blankets, phone cases for all ages, girls, guys and biggies. That is something that I recently got into. I wanted to see what it was like to be in lifestyle brands. It is something I was thinking about and one day I said, ‘you know what? Let’s just do it.’ So I opened a clothing line and I’ve been growing it. I’m involved in everything, including the designs, but I work with a team of professionals too.
I think here in Israel people are starting to like it. I made a couple Yalla Maccabi shirts and I gave them to my teammates to see how they would receive them and they LOVED them. Their families liked them as well. I wore it for some of the fans to see and posted on social media and the fans started asking where they can get them. So I realized I need to bring them out here. So now I want to bring the Cole Blooded brand out here and I am definitely going to make more Maccabi Tel Aviv shirts. But I don’t want to limit myself just to Tel Aviv. Eventually I would like to make Cole Blooded shirts for all of EuroLeague. First I gotta take care of the home team; Maccabi Tel Aviv comes first. But I would like to branch out and have Cole Blooded all over the EuroLeague, so fans everywhere can experience the Cole Blooded experience. The sooner the better, but there is no rush. When something is good quality, you don’t have to rush it. Good quality speaks for itself.
The start of my season here was slowed a bit by a shoulder injury and that bothered me because I wasn’t able to give my absolute best the way I know that I could. But the team was patient with me. The physical therapist and trainer did a good job of helping me through the process. And now that I am getting back to normal, my play has picked up and I’m happy about that.
There have also been some rules I have had to adjust to playing in Europe. There is no defensive 3 seconds rule, so the defense can just stay in the paint the whole time, which makes the pick-and-roll reads a little different. The foul calling here is a lot different. It takes time to learn what is a foul and what isn’t. And what’s an intentional foul or an unsportsmanlike foul. Those are very, very different from what I was used to in the NBA. So that’s a tough adjustment. Certain fouls that are common fouls in the NBA are unsportsmanlike here. My teammates and coaches have been helping me with different rules and things of that nature. Thank God they changed the rule interpreting the first step for traveling this year! I heard about that.
Thanks for reading and I’ll be back with some more updates soon!