There’s No Place Like Home. There’s no place like home. That was certainly Moncton Magic power forward Billy White’s mantra on Thursday night.
White thrilled the hometown crowd dropping 24 points in 39 mins.
He’s had standout performances before, but this one was different. Given the events of the past week, this performance had to be special.
“It just feels good to be home,” White said moments after the Magic’s victory over the 1st place London Lightning.
The defending NBL of Canada Champions traded White on January 12th only to have the deal receded by the league on 16th.
The pride of Las Vegas, Nevada is happy to be back in the 506 after a very challenging week.
“It feels good to play with my teammates again and to play for a great organization like Moncton,” confessed White.
“I’m excited to be back with my brothers and to go to war with them and try to continue what we did last year and try to build on that.”
White didn’t hesitate when asked if tonight’s game against the Lightning was a statement game?
“They are the number one team in the league, it’s another game.”
“It’s not like a championship game, it’s not like this game decides other things, but we got up early and looked forward for this one,” explained White.
“We knew the number one team in the league were coming into our building. We are the defending champions and we took pride in that.”
“Coach told us how important this game was to us.”
“We wanted to set the tone for our season and just to see where we are at,” White added.
White was outstanding at both ends of the court and was engaged both physically and emotionally throughout the entire game in his “return” to the Avenir Centre.
“Tonight we played hard and played defence, we played Moncton basket and got the win.”
Magic Head Coach Joe Salerno is quick to credit White’s professionalism and perseverance.
“Billy has made that very easy,” said Salerno when asked about putting the trade in the past and moving forward.
“Ultimately Billy just wanted to be here,” Salerno said.
The Moncton Magic’s depth and willingness to play as a collective unit is certainly the team’s strongest attribute.
“Our coaching staff and Billy need to work on a few things communication wise, but we are going to approach this with a very open mind.”
For the Magic it’s all about the W and raising another championship banner at the Avenir Centre.
“We are all on the same page about improving and just trying to win another championship,” explained Salerno.
“Billy is a competitor, he wants to win. We are really happy to have him back and we got off to a great start tonight,” said Salerno.
There’s no place like home for Billy White and Moncton Magic. The Magic faithful gave White a great ovation when he was announced as a starter.
Did the high scoring skilled forward feel the love?
“Oh for sure,” White said proudly.
“Anytime you step in this court and play here there’s something special.”
“The fans are very very special to me,” White said proudly.
“The fans are a special part of this team and that’s why we love playing here,” stressed White.
“We are so good here, not only just because of our players, it’s because of the fans. They come in here and try to pack up the arena and scream for us and do everything for us so.”
“We try to play off of their momentum.”
White was extremely intense, confident and composed in all aspects of his game and played a critical role tonight solidifying the victory.
Playing on the edge and not crossing it is a difficult task especially for a player like White who feeds off the energy and competitive nature of the game. From the physical side to psychological warfare White certainly doesn’t shy away from his share of trash talk, if anything he embraces.
“I mean, that’s just part of my game,” White said.
“I love basketball, I’m not trying to disrespect no body out there, it’s just all fun and games,” admitted White.
“We are all brothers out there at the end of the day. I just try to bring that part of the game and bring energy to this team.”
“That’s one of big things that Coach brought me here to do.”
“Coach knows what style of player I can be and I just try to bring that into the locker room and try to bring as much energy as I can and do whatever it takes to win.”
It’s undeniably Billy White is the heart and soul of the Moncton Magic. White provides an elite level scoring touch and great range to an already deep talented team.
Through all the adversity and the roller coaster ride of emotions of last week’s events Billy White tried to remain grounded and put things in perspective.
“I think for him realizing how bad he missed his teammates and how he loves playing here, he took it all in stride, because this is where he wants to be,” explained Salerno.
“I’m not going to lie, it was weird,” admitted White.
“I know it’s a business. I wasn’t mad at Moncton or mad anybody for that matter.”
“I know it’s a business and that they have to make the decision for the organization. It’s basketball and stuff happens, I was a little disappointed, but I was looking forward to try something different and move on,” White said.
As they say everything happens for a reason. “For us it’s great having Billy back,” stressed Salerno.
“I’m so glad and thankful that things worked out the way they did and that I’m back here at home. They have welcomed me back home with open arms,” White said proudly.
There’s really no place like home. Just ask Billy White.