News » Round ball's Taylor says ciao to Italy HOFFMAN: Taking shots in Italy


Round ball's Taylor says ciao to Italy HOFFMAN: Taking shots in Italy


Round ball's Taylor says ciao to Italy HOFFMAN: Taking shots in Italy
Last January, I was having lunch with former Houston Rocket player Maurice Taylor. We eat pretty much the same thing. It just looks better on a 6-foot-9-inch, 264-pound power forward.

I think his tattoos help.

We were having our usual trivia duel. He is ultracompetitive. He thinks he's unbeatable.

Monopoly, I'll give him. Taylor will wear you down. He once told me how the Rockets used to play Monopoly in their hotel rooms on road trips - with real money.

But trivia, I don't think he's in my league.

That afternoon I got a text from Taylor. It was true. We weren't in the same league.

Taylor, who played with the Rockets from 2000 to 2005 and last played for the Sacramento Kings in 2007, had just signed a three-year contract to resume his Basketball career in Serie A, Italy's No. 1 league. He was joining the Armani Jeans Milano team.

I'm guessing they have some pretty stylish uniforms.

Let's check in on Mo.

"I'm having a great time in Italy. We've played in Spain, Greece and all around Italy. It's been a wonderful experience. The team is doing great! Right now we're in the finals against Montepaschi Siena. We're down 0-3, though. Montepaschi has won the last two titles. They've lost only four games in two years," he said.

Montepaschi is a bank that sponsors the team in Siena, Italy. I'm guessing their uniforms are a little drabber than Armani Jeans Milano.

Game 4, and possibly the clincher for Montepaschi, is tonight. When the finals are over, Taylor is heading back home to Houston, where he owns several businesses, including Sneaker Lab in the Galleria.

"I started off slow when I got here, trying to get used to the game and the team, plus getting back in game shape. The game is basically the same. The NBA is more physical, and the game is faster paced. European Basketball focuses more on team and not individual play as much."

Another difference: In the program, he's listed as 2.6 meters tall and weighing 120 kilograms.

"It took me awhile, but now I'm averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds in the playoffs. I expect those numbers to double if I come back next year and have a full training camp and pre-season. I'm enjoying my time in Milan. The fans here treat me great. OK, maybe not the fans at road games.

"But opportunities in the NBA are still a possibility. Obviously the NBA is the best league in the world. I miss playing against the best in the world. My summer will be all about being in the best shape I can possibly be in to compete at that level again. If I don't go back to the NBA, I would love to come back here and tear up the league," he said.

One of the conditions for Taylor joining Armani Jeans Milano was getting an Italian passport. He now has dual citizenship.

"So I am feeling a little Italian."

But he doesn't speak even a little Italian.

"I try to speak Italian but fail miserably. You should see me at the grocery store. It's like watching one of those candid camera shows. And I'm the only one who's not in on the joke."

Taylor lives in a hotel - he's got a sweet suite. "It's cool. I like it a lot."

He eats most of his meals in restaurants - duh, he's in Italy! "They have a lot of great restaurants in Milan. It's some of the best food in the world."

Still, he misses, in order:

1. His family.

2. The chicken and steak tacos at Chipotle restaurants in Houston.

Back in his hotel, he plays video games, watches movies on satellite TV and plugs in Slingbox, a computer device that allows him to watch whatever is on his TV at home in Houston. His favorite shows are The Real Housewives of New Jersey, ESPN and reruns of Entourage.

The Real Housewives of New Jersey?

Now I'm worried that'll be his first trivia question when he gets back - name the Real Housewives.

I'm going to lose Round One.

ken.hoffman@chron.com

Listen to Ken on "The Game," AM radio station 1560, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: June 17, 2009

 

 
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