ON READING AS A HOBBY I do it all the time. On the bus, on the plane. It keeps my mind fresh. You don't want your brain to rot too badly. You can only watch so many movies and play so many video games. Right now I'm reading mainly fiction. My favorite books of the last couple of years were the Dan Brown books, The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Great stories.
ON WHAT HE'S LEARNED AS A ROOKIE In the NBA you have to be sharp every day on the court. If you're not, you're gonna get killed.
ON BEING NAMED ONE OF PEOPLE'S "SEXIEST MEN" Uh, it was nice. My teammates gave me crap about it though. Everybody had something to say. Whatever I did--if I made a face in the locker room or dressed a certain way--someone would say, 'Oh, so that's how you become one of the sexiest people.'
ON THE WORK ETHIC OF HIS FATHER, PIUS, WHO CAME TO AMERICA FROM NIGERIA IN 1976 He worked nights and pumped gas so he could go to school. Now he has an MBA and is a certified public accountant. He's also getting his doctorate in pharmacy. My dad goes where he's going, and he keeps going. He always said, 'Don't ever procrastinate.' That's where I got my mind-set.
April 17, 2005
ON HIS YOUTH GAMES IN HOUSTON It wasn't just basketball. I played baseball, bowling, track, swimming, football, soccer. My dad was one of those nutty parents who made a lot of noise. When I played soccer, all the parents thought he was nuts because he'd be running up and down the sideline screaming.
ON WHOM HE ADMIRES IN THE NBA I've always looked up to [Rockets center] Dikembe Mutombo. He came to me after a game this year and said, 'Just keep working hard.' That meant a lot to me. Some people have a hard time understanding what he says but not me. He's from the same part of Africa as my dad.
ON BULKING UP I lift a few times a week, and I'm at 260 pounds, which is where I was before the season. I keep the calories up. For example in the morning I eat a bowl of cereal, two peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, two cups of yogurt, an apple and protein, like some chicken from the night before. I wash it down with OJ and take vitamins. I was never a junk food eater. You have to watch what you put in your body.
ON BEING THE FOCUS OF THE TEAM'S OKAFOR IN '04 CAMPAIGN When I came in, I felt I was getting a lot of attention without having shown anything. As the season's gone on, though, I've felt better about it. I like it here. It's a nice little quiet town. People come up to you on the street and talk to you.
ON PLAYING ON A LOSING TEAM AFTER WINNING IN COLLEGE You can't get too up or down, you can't kick yourself, and you can't give in to the losing mentality. I'm competitive, so as I see it, as long as we're competing, I'm O.K.
ON HIS ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR CHANCES I don't even want to think about it. I don't like jinxing myself. --As told to Chris Ballard
THE 6'10" OKAFOR, 22, LEADS NBA ROOKIES WITH PER-GAME AVERAGES OF 15.3 POINTS AND 10.8 REBOUNDS
"I LIKE IT HERE. PEOPLE COME UP TO YOU ON THE STREET AND TALK TO YOU."