UK Men's Basketball

‘It’s cool’: Oklahoma City reminds Diallo of his Kentucky home

Are you a Hami fan? Check out these 32 photos

Photos of Hamidou Diallo from the 2017-2018 Kentucky basketball season. Music: www.bensound.com
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Photos of Hamidou Diallo from the 2017-2018 Kentucky basketball season. Music: www.bensound.com

Before his rookie season begins, Hamidou Diallo has been on three NBA teams. So no one needs to remind him that professional sports are a business. Sentimentality can be set aside when bottom-line decisions must be made.

The Brooklyn Nets took Diallo with the 45th pick of this year’s NBA Draft. Then he was traded to the Charlotte Hornets, who then dealt him to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I didn’t even know I was getting traded to the Thunder,” Diallo said Thursday. “I was taking pictures with my Brooklyn Nets hat. And then my agent came and told me I probably was traded to the Thunder. But it couldn’t go through until July 6. So I’m sitting there (thinking) what?!

“It’s great getting used to the business and, who knows what else can happen? You have to always stay on your feet and stay positive.”

Diallo, who was in Lexington for UK Coach John Calipari’s Draft Academy camp this week, grew up in Queens, was initially thrilled to be drafted by the Nets.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I was definitely happy. Being with the Thunder, I was even more happy. So it’s going to be cool.”

Diallo signed a three-year deal with Oklahoma City. He spoke of the chance to learn from such veteran Thunder players as Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

“It’s just a blessing for me to try to soak in as much as I can and learn as much as possible,” he said.

Diallo acknowledged the culture shock that comes from a person New York City born and bred now about to live in Oklahoma.

“I’m from New York,” he said. “So definitely any city I probably go to — unless it’s L.A. or Chicago or a couple other of those major cities — it’s going to be a little culture shock. For the most part, Kentucky prepared me for it. So I’m cool. It’s a cool city. Cool people.

“And it’s just like being back here. We’re the only professional team in town, and everybody supports us. So it’s just like being here all over again. So it’s cool.”

Hamidou Diallo, with former Wildcats Kevin Knox and Bam Adebayo nearby, walks the Kentucky Derby red carpet and gets an ear tickle. "We've been hearing about horses all year."

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