Victor Oladipo knows what people say about him these days. He knows that his four-year, $84 million deal raised eyebrows, that many believe Indiana lost the Paul George trade, and that not much is expected of the new-look Pacers.
But you wouldn't have known any of this weighed on Oladipo's mind when he entered the SI.com offices, chauffeured into the building by close friends, loud laughs and even louder signing. He was with The Crossover to promote his new Donny Hathaway cover, "Song For You," but Tyrese, Usher and The Temptations were also on Oladipo's playlist on this day.
When the final moments of his rapid-fire song-off ended, Oladipo took time away from music to discuss his return to Indiana, playing with Russell Westbrook and the new pressure to produce he will face next season.
DeAntae Prince: You’re returning to Indiana this season. What do you expect the reception to be like in your first game and throughout the season?
Victor Oladipo: I think it's going to be a nice homecoming. Really, I think that people will enjoy that I'm back playing for the Pacers, and I'm going to give them something good to watch.
DP: Can you think back to the first time you stepped on the court in Indiana as a college player? How far have you come since then?
VO: I've come a long way since then, from my very first game as an IU freshman to know, being back and playing for the Pacers, playing for the NBA team there. I've come a long way and I look forward to the journey that lies ahead.
DP: Saw that you overhauled your body this summer and told Hot97 you lost 20 pounds. Were you preparing for the new expectations you’ll face in Indiana?
VO: Definitely, definitely. I'm preparing for my role as a leader, I'm preparing for my role on the team and I can't wait to embrace that role.
DP: You’re obviously coming into a situation where Paul George elevated the Pacers and made everyone better. Do you feel any pressure to take on some of that role?
VO: Not really, I just plan to go out there and play with my teammates and do whatever it takes to win. There's no added pressure, I'll just go out there and do what I do.
DP: You’re on a team many people see as rebuilding but you’re in year five and looking to improve your game. How do you grapple with those conflicting ideas?
Dominate, man. I just want to go out there and dominate. I was to pick everybody up, lead and make everybody better, and at the same time try to do something special.
DP: A lot of people are exciting about Myles Turner and assume the Pacers will build around you two. How excited are you to pair up with him?
VO: I think we're going to be a very dynamic duo. I think it's going to work out well. I'm going to help him and he's going to help me. I'm looking forward to being a great duo for year's to come.
DP: Stepping away from basketball a bit, I saw that you sent water down to Houston for Hurricane Harvey relief. How did you build a relationship with Chamillionaire and what led to the donation?
VO: Chamillionaire is Nigerian, first and foremost and I'm Nigerian. I met him when I was in San Francisco. He played the Warriors and we had a bond already just from being Nigerian, and we had great discussions. I was talking to him earlier in the summer and he was out there helping, and I just felt like I needed to help.
Even though I couldn't be there, I decided to donate some water to the people who didn't have access to it. It turned out great, and I'm always here to help. It's amazing when you're put in this position, I feel like it's my duty and obligation to give back to people who are less fortunate than I am and that's what I'm trying to do.
DP: When did you record this song? Did you find time in the hotel during the season? Do it over the summer?
VO: Just here and there during the free time, off days and all that and during the year when I have some down time and can make music. It was all over the place.
DP: I see you, Dame and Shumpert all making the rounds on media sites. Can we get you three to the song together?
I would love to do a song with them, I think it would be great for the NBA if we could make a really good, dope song. We'll see what the future holds.