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There were laughs that followed, mostly coming from Kidd-Gilchrist _ it seemed to break the ice.

“He did really well that day,” Hayden said. “Mike is such a great, great kid. He’s one of the most down-to-earth, nicest kids you’ll ever want to meet. And he has interesting things to say. Sometimes it just takes a little longer to get there so you have to be patient.”

Hayden said by the end of the Kentucky’s national championship season Kidd-Gilchrist had done as many interviews as any player on the team.

He was warmly received by fans, even after his speech disorder was made public.

“When it came out in the media it was a relief at how people embraced it,” Richardson said.

Despite the strides Kidd-Gilchrist has made, he still doesn’t always appear comfortable with the cameras on him and the tape recorders thrust in his face.

At his introductory press conference with the Bobcats last month there were some rough moments when dead air filled the room as he struggled for the right words to respond to questions. Some questions he simply left unanswered after long, awkward pauses. Others he answered just fine.

“Part of it is the speech and part of it is he just does not like” doing interviews, Richardson said. “I think a lot of it is because growing up we never allowed him to do it.”

Richardson accepts her son’s stuttering will never completely go away.

“But he’s come to grips with it,” she said. “So now he’s at the point where he’ll say, `Mom, I love who I am.’ And he should … Michael is the most wonderful, caring person you’ll ever meet. He hasn’t let this disability shape the person he is. I’m proud of him for that. He’s a very confident young man.”

The Bobcats picked up on Kidd-Gilchrist’s quiet confidence during pre-draft meetings.

“He’s a high character person,” Bobcats general manager Rich Cho said. “Out of the 17 years I’ve been in the NBA and all of the draft interviews I’ve been involved with, his was definitely in the top five.”

The Bobcats are confident in his ability on the court, too.

Owner Michael Jordan this week compared Kidd-Gilchrist to a younger version of former teammate Scottie Pippen.

“He’s going to be fine in the NBA,” Jordan said.

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