Indiana’s Cody Zeller motivated by Michael Jordan’s success

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A ten-part series about Michael Jordan is airing every Sunday for the next month on ESPN.

Parts one and two of “The Last Dance” aired April 19, which resurrected some reasoning as to why many consider Jordan the greatest of all time.

Indiana’s own Cody Zeller was 5 years old in 1998, growing up in Washington, Indiana, when Jordan and the Chicago Bulls won their second NBA Championship three-peat.

“I remember watching the games with my dad in our unfinished basement on a fifteen-inch TV. We sat down there for all the playoff games,” Zeller told FOX59’s JoJo Gentry. “Those are some of my earliest basketball memories, but also seeing MJ for the first time.”

Zeller has used MJ’s success as motivation ever since.

Cody guided Washington High School to back-to-back 3A state titles in 2010 and 2011. Washington also won state in 2008 during his freshman year. Cody’s older brother, Tyler, was named Mister Basketball that season. Luke, the oldest of the Zeller trio, won Mister Basketball in 2005. The Hatchets also won state that year.

Cody won Mister Basketball in 2011 before playing for Indiana University. After two seasons with the Hoosiers, Cody declared for the NBA Draft in 2013.

Charlotte drafted Cody fourth overall, and he has been there ever since. Zeller is in his seventh year playing for the Hornets and team owner Michael Jordan.

“The first time I talked to him on the phone was right after I walked the stage after being drafted,” he said. “I’ve never gotten over the fact that he’s never just another guy. Everyone knows when he is in the building. Anytime you can get a few minutes with him is special.”

Zeller says he watched the first two parts of “The Last Dance” Sunday. He knew what to expect. But, some of the video shown caught him off guard.

“I knew they would show his great performances, sixty-three points in the playoffs and stuff like that,” Zeller said. “But, the footage of him playing golf with Danny Ainge between game one and game two. Some of the behind-the-scenes footage is really, really cool.”

Zeller says Jordan stops by team practices periodically. For Cody, seeing Jordan around the Hornets facilities never gets old.

“Even now, there is a little extra jitters just because he is who he is.”

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