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Jenni Carlson: Thunder need Nazr Mohammed to lead well, play well

by Jenni Carlson Modified: February 26, 2011 at 6:43 pm •  Published: February 26, 2011

�And Nazr had already beat me there,� Presti said. �And he was lathered up pretty good.�

The Spurs weren't practicing that day and were giving the guys a day off.

�But he knew that (working out) was important for him to be ready the next day,� Presti said.

That sort of seriousness and professionalism caught the eye of Larry Brown not once but twice. The legendary coach was in Philadelphia when the 76ers made a draft-day trade for the Kentucky product in 1998, then made Mohammed a regular in Charlotte during the past few seasons.

If Brown likes you, that's quite an endorsement.

So is this � Gregg Popovich went after Mohammed back in 2005. The longtime San Antonio coach needed a backup for Tim Duncan, so the Spurs did a midseason deal for Mohammed.

They won the NBA title later that spring.

Payoffs such as that are the reasons that Mohammed is so serious about his craft.

�I feel like I'm blessed to be playing this game,� he said. �I've been playing it a long time, and I want to be able to continue to play it.

�I'd like to think I'm known as a professional around this league.�

Now, don't misunderstand, Mohammed is about more than intangibles. A couple weeks ago, he and the Bobcats walloped the Lakers by 20 points in Charlotte.

Mohammed's stat line: 16 points, three rebounds, two assists, one block.

He can play.

Presti said, �He has the opportunity to help us.�

If all goes as planned, he'll do that in more than one way and he'll start doing it today.