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Wizards’ Deni Avdija: Fired up and excited to play in world’s best league


WASHINGTON – Deni Avdija, the 19-year-old Israeli basketball player, participated in his first press conference as an NBA player on Wednesday after landing in the nations’ capital over the weekend and officially signing his contract with the Washington Wizards.“The NBA is the best league in the world, with all the best players, and it’s really unique and special,” he said. “I am fired up and excited to play in the best league in the world, to bring my talent over here and to try to make the team better as best I can. I can’t wait, and hopefully, we’re going to do great things together.”Asked to describe himself, he said that he is very emotional on the court and a big competitor. “I’m just working hard, being positive, and helping the team as much as I can.”The press conference was held via Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Avdija was asked about his experience in the city so far.“It’s kind of quiet because it was Thanksgiving once I got here, and through all the pandemic and COVID stuff, things close really early,” he said. “But other than that, I think it’s a beautiful city; very nice people. And I’m here to play basketball, so I’m excited.”Asked about being picked at the highest spot ever for an Israeli player, he said: “Israeli fans are the best; all the nation is behind you. Hopefully, I’ll represent [Israel] the best as I can.”He also addressed his last few days in Israel before moving to Washington. “It’s been emotional, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I left a lot of friends and family that I love, for a long time. But I know they are all proud of me, and they want my success, and they’re all behind me.

“I grew up in an environment that was comfortable for me,” he continued. “I was at home with my friends, speaking the language, and everybody knows you because you’re a Maccabi player. Since the plane took off, I left everybody home and I understood that I started a new beginning, a new career – and I don’t know any people. So for me, it was hard. It’s like starting over again.“But I’m a tough kid,” Avdija said. “I’ve been through a lot.”

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