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February 15, 2019

John Collins

Charlotte, North Carolina

Q. Could you give me your pick for this season's MVP?
JOHN COLLINS: Tough, but I think I'm going to have to go with Giannis. The record, his play. I just think how they look when he's not in the game is like a direct effect. It's what an MVP should be.

Q. On being back in North Carolina:
JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, I definitely miss playing in the Hoop State a little bit. Whenever I get off the plane, I get the chills and feels like being back at Wake [Forest]. Definitely good to be back in the Hoop State.

Q. How have you adjusted to the NBA?
JOHN COLLINS: I adjusted or have been adjusting a lot better than last year. I think going through it helped me out a lot. I'm adjusting real well right now.

Q. What's it like being part of a special weekend like this?
JOHN COLLINS: It's crazy. I remember it from last year. Definitely cool to be back again for a repeat year. This year, doing two events. Hopefully next year I'm in the event on Sunday. So I'm definitely happy to be here.

Q. What do you think is the difference from year one to year two?
JOHN COLLINS: I just think the attention to detail and realizing how important that is from last year. I think last year as a rookie, you get away with a little bit more stuff. I think now, especially from my role as a growing leader on the team, I just feel like my attention to detail and my room for error have definitely decreased a lot, and I definitely have a bigger role.

Q. As a pro, is it more about time management that you have to treat it like a job or you need to be --
JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, time management is just a huge part of being an NBA player. Knowing how to manage your time correctly starts in college. I feel like you take a nice first step there. You should be able to come to the NBA and sort of fall right in, and I think I've done a good job.

Q. Would you say Coach Manning has influenced your game in the NBA?
JOHN COLLINS: Largely. Hugely. Big shout-out to Coach Manning. Showed me a lot of stuff. Showed me how to score without the basketball, how to make plays without necessarily needing the basketball. I felt like that was a huge skill he gave me, and I'm still using it today for sure.

Q. Did you get any advice from Vince Carter on preparing for the Dunk Contest?
JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, I definitely asked for a lot of tips from Vince about the Dunk Contest, as well as Dominique. So I'll definitely use those two guys as sort of like cheat sheets or whatever just to hopefully get an extra edge for tomorrow.

Q. What would it take for you to win the Dunk Contest?
JOHN COLLINS: I think completing all my dunks the first time will be key. Gives me a little extra points and extra cushion.

Q. Anything we haven't seen before?
JOHN COLLINS: If I can complete them, yes.

Q. Are you nervous about it?
JOHN COLLINS: I know the group of dunks I have. I'm a little nervous, but not really too nervous. It's more of, once I get on the court, all the butterflies are going to be gone, and I'm going to try to show out.

Q. Is there a time in your career when you can say you bet on yourself? Maybe all the way back to your pre-NBA days in college, something where you said I'm taking this?
JOHN COLLINS: Big time. I think the risk or my biggest step or betting on myself was when I took that high-major Division I offer to Wake Forest. I was honestly closer to my highest offer on my board, and it's always really risky when you go to the best school that has offered you, because you never know if you're going to play or whatnot. But I ended up falling into a nice situation there, going in there with Coach Manning and getting a chance and an opportunity to play in the ACC definitely propelled and helped me get to the NBA today.

I think that was the biggest moment when I finally decided where I wanted to go to school and I found out I actually had a chance of going pro. It changed everything for me.

Q. You've been in the league now for a couple of years. Is there any rule that you would either want to edit or change? Just to give you some ideas here. It can be as simple as free throws to get the assist or as ridiculous as let's get a penalty --
JOHN COLLINS: I got one: The one I got is an extra referee. I don't know if that's a rule or whatever, but I feel like, if we have an extra referee.

Q. One more?
JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, I feel like if we have an extra set of eyes out there, that would ease a lot of the tension.

Q. On Rising Stars:
JOHN COLLINS: Yeah, we were actually just talking about our defeat last year, at least the repeat guys, talking about our defeat last year to the World Team. We're definitely going to come out with some more intensity and try to make it a way more competitive game, for sure. We're going to try to win, no doubt.

Q. What's it like doing an event like this so close to where you went to school?
JOHN COLLINS: It's pretty cool. I was touching on how I've seen half a million faces in the crowd right now just off the media circuit. It's pretty welcoming and pretty comforting. I think it's cool, like I said, to see the familiar faces in the areas I was before back in college. It's pretty cool.

Q. Do you still have a lot of friends from around here?
JOHN COLLINS: For sure. Every time I come down to the area, it's always old friends from college who want to come see me or people who work for the team or people who grew up watching me at Wake Forest and Winston-Salem and want to come out and support. It should be a good amount of fans here.

Q. Do you remember the very first time you dunked a basketball?
JOHN COLLINS: I do. It was ninth-grade summer. It was the very first time I dunked. I had never tried a dunk. I was 6-5 with no real athleticism. I was still filling out. I went up and dunked once. And then I didn't dunk for about a year. Then I came back, after that year period, I've never, obviously, not been able to try to dunk again. But I do remember. It was ninth-grade summer, regular practice, once for that year, and then it just started going crazy after that.

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