Monthly Archive for June, 2010

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2010 Exit Interviews: Derek Fisher

fisherFor the fifth straight season and seventh time in eight years, Derek Fisher played in all 82 regular season games, then went on to play his best basketball of 2009-10 in the playoffs.

Fisher nailed a dagger three-pointer to beat Utah in Game 3 of Round 2, scored 11 huge points to carry L.A. to a Game 3 win in Boston and hit a game-tying three late in the fourth quarter of L.A.’s Finals-clinching Game 7 victory.

Fisher averaged 7.5 points on 38 percent shooting with 2.5 assists in 27.2 regular season minutes per game, and went up to 10.3 points on 44.8 percent from the field with 2.8 assists in 32.8 postseason minutes.

Below are the highlights of his exit interview:

- (On if he wants to come back): “Yeah. I’ve never mixed any statements or positions about winning and wanting to be associated with winning championships and being on the best team in the NBA. It would definitely be a great opportunity to be in the position to do it again next year. I’ll let that process take care of itself. It’s about a commitment to winning, and I guess it’s hard to quantify that, or put a price on that, but in our business you have to. I don’t think there’s any question about Dr. Buss and his commitment to winning, and Mitch and his commitment to winning. It’s just a matter of sitting down and working out details.”

- (On terms of a deal): “I’m not chasing money. I’m not trying to stretch out a deal artificially.”

- (On not missing a game since APRIL 13, 2005): “It means a lot to me because it symbolizes the commitment and sacrifice required to come to work every day and be available to your team every day. That requires a lot of sacrifice. Some of those hot days in the summer when you could be at the park with the kids or going to lunch with your kids, a lot of times I’m working out. It’s worked out well, and I’ve made an investment … It definitely took some trial and error. I learned from things (like injuries), and every year try to keep pushing the envelope to try and keep myself in the best possible condition in the event that I need to go all the way. I’d rather be prepared to play 38 minutes and carry a heavy load in case I need to.”

- (On players learning from each other, particularly Fisher and Bryant): “Myself and Kobe definitely observe each other’s patterns and behaviors. We’re very influential amongst each other. Things that he’s seen from me that I’ve seen from him and all of our teammates, things we pick up from each other play a huge part in guys pushing themselves beyond what their comfort level might be. I think Andrew’s committment to the team this year probably says that the most, pushing through that injury. Watching Kobe push through his knee problems (likely had to do) with that.”

- To Fisher, starting is something that remains a priority, but he said it’s not necessarily a “deal breaker” in terms of next season.

- Fisher said that his family would like him to come back to the Lakers.

- (On satisfaction for proving skeptics wrong): “For me it feels good to come through no matter what had been or was said throughout the regular season. To be honest I don’t know if I’d like it any other way. Part of the reason why I’m here is because of what I was told I couldn’t do … in high school, in college, that’s what I’ve heard my whole basketball career basically. I guess I’ve developed an ability to just kind of let that be what it is and let people say what they have a right to say.”

- (On if he’ll take calls from other teams on July 1): “I have a responsibility to my family as much as myself to answer (calls from other teams) and have the appropriate conversations and make sure there’s an understanding of the options that are available to us. I would teach my kids that. I’d teach them to make sure they gather all the information and do their due diligence before they make an important decision. I’ll go through that process, but I won’t make a decision before I know exactly where I stand here.”

2010 Exit Interviews: Adam Morrison

morrison1Adam Morrison saw action in only 31 regular season and two playoff games, scoring a total of 82 points.

Acquired along with Shannon Brown in February of 2009, Morrison won two rings with the Lakers, but was never able to garner significant playing time heading into free agency.

Below is a summary of his exit interview:

- (On his experience with the team): “It was cool. It was tough not playing as much, at all really, but being a part of the team was fun. Being with the group of guys we had was cool.”

- Morrison said that his agent told him that there was some interest in him around the league.
He added that he’s not ruling out coming back to the Lakers, but mentioned that: “I didn’t play here so I don’t know why they’d want to bring me back.”

- (On what he got out of meeting with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak): “I need to work on my guard skills to be able to play in this league, and Phil said he enjoyed having me on the team. I understood why the minutes were limited (with the talent on the wing on this team). I just thanked them for bringing me here in the first place and letting me be apart of a (championship team).”

- (On if he got confidence from competing hard in practice with the second unit against the starters): “One-hundred percent. The second unit guys that didn’t play much prided ourselves on trying to make this team better. To be a championship team you have to have guys that push the team every day. Going against Ron and Kobe every day could be nothing but positive.”

- (On developing his game by having Artest guard him): “Especially against Ron. I’d see other guys when he’d play and the looks on their faces … I have to wrestle with that bear every day, so I know how it goes.”

- (On Jimmy Kimmel making a mock highlight video of him on the bench in the playoffs): “I don’t know why that guy has always picked on me for some reason … but he has a show to do. I understand.”

- (On seeing a lot in the past few years): “I’ve been on all spectrums. I’ve been at the top of the college game, I’ve been injured and not playing, I’ve not suited up. I’ve seen all aspects of the game and it’s changed me as a person.”

- (On his health): “I feel my hop has gotten back a little bit.”

2010 Exit Interview: Pau Gasol

gasolPau Gasol had a fantastic 2009-10 season for the Lakers, emerging into perhaps the NBA’s best all-around big man while helping Kobe Bryant lead L.A. to its third straight Finals appearance and second straight championship.

The Spaniard, who again made the All-Star team and was named to the All-NBA Third Team despite missing 17 games with two different hamstring strains, averaged 18.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.74 blocks on 53.6 percent shooting in the regular season and 19.6 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.09 blocks on 53.9 percent shooting in the playoffs.

Here’s a summary of Gasol’s exit interview:

- Gasol said that his past few days since winning the title mostly allowed him to reflect and rest upon the championship, though he also enjoyed the parade, doing TV shows (like ‘The Tonight Show’) and everything else.

- (On if me met his expectations): “I feel like I’m a big part (of the team). I’m doing my job. I’m doing what’s expected out of me, and I’m proud of the way I’ve been able to perform and contribute.”

- (On the perception of his game from the outside looking in has now equaled his own self confidence): “Probably. Obviously with success and great results come more recognition. At the same time I’m happy at how I developed and matured. Winning two championships back-to-back is pretty amazing. Happy feeling about everything.”

- Gasol confirmed that he will not play for the Spanish National Team this summer, concluding that he needs the time to rest his body in preparation for the next NBA season. The two hamstring strains he suffered first in October and then January triggered that decision for Gasol. “That just told me that my body was telling me ‘I’m fatigued, I’m not 25 anymore.’” Gasol said having the quality of teammates that he has helped him come back from his injuries this season and be effective right away, which makes sense due to the type of team basketball he’s capable of playing.

More on that topic: Gasol said that in the past three years, he has “played as much basketball as I could play. My body needs to relax and recover to be able to be fresh and continue to play at the level that I’m playing, otherwise my body is going to break down quicker and I’m going to be a worse player.”

- (On his mindset deep in playoffs): “Something I like to do mentally is to picture how it would feel to lose. If we lose this game, how hard is it going to be. We have to do whatever it takes so it doesn’t get to that point.”

- (On hoops in his native Spain): “Basketball has grown a lot in Spain. The Dream Team was really inspiring, and a lot of kids started to play basketball and love the game. Our sport has grown a lot, and the quality of the players and the results that we’ve achieved with our National team and the success (has been huge). I take pride in what I’ve been able (to contribute).”

- (On what he’d like to add to his game in the offseason): “I want to continue to expand my game a little more, build my body and work on staying strong so I can play the way I’ve been playing, and holding my ground the way I’ve been holding my ground. More than anything, it’s strengthening my joints and (getting my body completely ready).”

- (On Andrew Bynum’s presence for him): “It helps (in a lot of ways).” Gasol loves having Bynum alongside him, and said he primarily wants Bynum to be able to stay healthy alongside him in the lineup. He also called Bynum’s playing through his knee injury “remarkable,” adding: “He gave his best. He sacrificed himself in order to help the team and have a better chance to win the championship, and it worked.”

- On his relationship with Kobe: “It’s great. I think we both have great respect for each other. Kobe’s an unbelievable player. I’ve been very fortunate so far to play with him. I think we compliment each other really well. We’re communicating every year better and better. It’s a great relationship, obviously it’s key for us to have that relationship in order for the whole team to function. We understand what our roles are and what importance we have on the team.”

2010 Exit Interview: Shannon Brown

brownShannon Brown averaged 7.6 minutes in the 2008-09 regular season after getting traded to L.A. in February, then 13 minutes during the 2009 playoffs before jumping up to 20.7 minutes in the 2009-10 regular season, averaging 8.1 points and 2.2 rebounds.

In the playoffs, his minutes dipped back to around 14 per contest as Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest played the vast majority of the time, and Brown averaged 4.9 points off the bench. Brown has the option of opting out of a two-year contract he signed prior to the 2009-10 campaign.

Below are the highlights of his exit interview:

- Brown said that he is “still thinking about” whether or not to opt out.

- (On if his first option is coming back): “I would love to stay in L.A. and play with the Lakers. I don’t know why you would break up a championship team.” Brown was asked more explicitly whether or not he thinks he’ll come back: “I hope so. I don’t want to go nowhere.”

- (On his growth from being traded to L.A. in February of 2009): “I made progress. My first two and a half years I really didn’t play that much. This year I did. I’m steady making progress. As long as you get the time on the floor, it’s going to work out for the best. Basketball is my life, I think about it all the time, sometimes to a fault, and I couldn’t be happier about being a champion for the second time in a row.”

- (On bringing another championship back to Maywood, IL, on Chicago’s West Side): “It meant a lot. A stat that I’m proud of, they said there hasn’t been a killing there in like a year. And that’s great. I lost a couple of people around that area, and it’s no fun. For them not to have to experience that is amazing, and that means my town is making progress. I have a camp coming up to give the kids something to look forward to.”

- (On Derek Fisher): “He’s been real helpful. I go to Fish and talk to him about anything on and off the court. On the court, he has five NBA championships, so I look at him and see the things he does out there. Hopefully, one day I want to be a starter.”

- (On what he got out of his meeting with management): “Just to get better, that’s all. They feel I made progress in the things that I’ve done and it’s all about getting better.”

- (On the difference between 2009 and 2010 titles): “This time was the first time I went into training camp and really knew what was going on as far as my role a little bit. Last year I wasn’t with the team the whole time, this year I was. It was great. You build friendships, you build family, you build bonds. It’s an amazing feeling.”

- (On his thumb, which he injured midseason): “I”m going to let it heal up naturally. It’s nothing that’s going to hinder anything into the future.”

2010 Exit Interview: Sasha Vujacic

vujacicSasha Vujacic battled various minor injuries throughout the 2009-10 season and struggled to get into a rhythm, playing only 8.6 minutes per game in the regular season to average 2.8 points and 1.2 rebounds.

He missed the first two rounds of the playoffs after suffering a severely sprained ankle in L.A.’s regular season finale, but had his best game of the playoffs in Game 6 of the Finals, scoring nine points in 14 minutes off the bench.

The highlights of his exit interview:

- (On the season): “I think that as a team we had a lot of ups and downs. We were always kind of pushed through tough situations. Individually it was a tough season. Injuries, playing, not playing, different kinds of things. Winning it eliminates everything, hard work pays off.”

- Vujacic was used during parts of the season particularly after the All-Star break thanks to his improved defense, as noted several times by Phil Jackson. Vujacic noted how tough it was to get injured in the regular season’s last game after he felt like he was beginning to find a rhythm, but noted this about his return: “There are different ways to help the team than just playing, and when I came back I was happy …. when I started walking, practicing … it was good the way we ended it. For next year it’s obvious, I just want to get better.”

- (On his conversation with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak): “It was a good talk with PJ and Mitch. We talked about the workouts I was going to do in the summer time. Coach was making me better throughout the year. Sometimes it’s the mental training that PJ does with all the players, and I’m glad I kind of passed the test. I’m glad he showed me confidence in the (biggest game of the year).” Vujacic of course referred to Jackson putting him into the final moments of Game 7 of the Finals when clutch free throws were needed, which Sasha swished.

- (On finding ways to contribute on such a talented team): “If you look at our team we have so many weapons, and when you have a team like that, you have to find different ways in different (times) to help the team. Obviously coming into next year, it’s no secret it is my contract year, not only for myself but for the team I want to really do good. I want to have a big role on the team.”

- (On playing point guard, and the possibility of doing so next season in L.A.): “I love it. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s a big responsibility. PJ also through the practices and some games was testing me, putting me out there not only this year but years before. I love it, I like it, I used to play point guard in Europe.”

- (On Kobe Bryant’s reaction to Slovenia tying Team USA at the World Cup and getting a late goal negated by the ref): “He didn’t take it very well. He was a little bit frustrated, but that was a tough game.”

- Sasha’s immediate plans (after being asked if he were going to the World Cup): “Obviously I’m going to be at another sporting event (tennis watching his girlfriend at Wimbledon).”

- Vujacic said he will not be playing for the Slovenian National Team, and has had no contact with countryman Goran Dragic – with whom he exchanged words and technicals – since the Phoenix series.

2010 Exit Interviews: Jordan Farmar

farmarJordan Farmar posted averages of 7.2 points and 1.5 assists while leading the Lakers in three-point shooting (37.6 percent) in 18 minutes per game, and offered 4.6 points and 1.4 assists in 13 playoff minutes.

Farmar’s exit interview, however, dealt mostly with the fact that he’s a restricted free agent and will have the opportunity to sign a contract with any NBA team on July 1. Since he is restricted, the Lakers could match any offer he receives if they so choose.

The summary of Farmar’s statements:

- Farmar stated that while he’s extremely proud of playing a role in two championship teams – particularly in his native Los Angeles – he’s hoping to move forward to the next stage of his personal career. Farmar would like the opportunity to lead a team as he did the scout teams while preparing L.A.’s starters to go against their respective playoff opponents, and is confident that he could do so.

- (Describing what he wants): “I want to see what kind of player I can be in this league. I know I can do a lot, I know I can lead a team. I definitely want to win and that’s important to me, but I don’t know if I could look back at my career if I didn’t get a chance to see what kind of player I can be. I want to see what I can do on the floor every night in this league.”

- Farmar said that he, Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak were all “at peace” with his situation moving forward, though he couldn’t comment specifically on their conversation.

- Farmar mentioned how well Derek Fisher played and how important his leadership is and thought that Fisher (also a free agent) may have the edge in terms of L.A.’s point guard position. Farmar again implied that if he were to be in a different situation, he’s certainly want the opportunity to start and show what he can do. “I feel like I can do so, so, so much more.”

- Farmar’s expecting a child shortly with his fiance, and detailed: “I have a family of my own starting, and we’re going to be together no matter where we’re at. I have a little one on the way and a lot of things are going the right way.” The implication is that he has to do what’s best for him from a basketball standpoint because his family will be there no matter what.

2010 Exit Interview: Ron Artest

artest1Ron Artest saved his best games for when L.A. needed them most in the 2010 playoffs, putting up 20-5-5 while limiting Paul Pierce in the clinching Game 7 of the Finals, scoring 25 points in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals and tipping in the game winner of Game 5 against Phoenix, not to mention defending the opponent’s best offensive threat throughout.

He averaged 11.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.4 steals in the regular season, and 11.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals in a postseason in which his primary responsibility was on D.

Below are the highlights of his exit interview:

- Artest opened his session by discussing his experience at CNN (while raising money for the oil spill). He was offered congratulations from Alyssa Milano, which to him was crazy. “I grew up (watching) her on “Who’s The Boss!” Artest explained that he has had a terrific time since winning his first ring, and couldn’t be more appreciative of those that helped him get it, and cheered him on.

- (On seeing how happy his teammates were for him): “It felt good because they were all pulling for me. I don’t know why I (put so much pressure on myself). I was playing with pressure the whole year. I wasn’t afraid to attack it or fail. I would just go back in the gym and get better. Playing the right way was the hardest thing for me. Playing how Phil Jackson wanted me to play. Not negative clashing, but our styles clashed … and that was good because we were trying to work towards the same goal.

- (On his meeting with Phil Jackson and Mitch Kupchak): “Just ways to get better. Just gotta come back ready. I’m not playing for a contract. I’m playing to improve. I want to improve until I can’t improve no more, and I’ve been doing that for the last couple of years. I haven’t been able to show that in my last two years.” Artest was referring to his focused role on the Lakers, with defense the top priority, and how he came off the bench in Houston willingly during a contract year, hurting his numbers and perhaps his contract.

- Artest said he was ultimately happy with his role because it helped the team win.

- (On his transformation from a few years back): “Oh man. It’s amazing. Just like Game 7 … it was just like this big storm, and I was probably the most relaxed (despite) having never been to the Finals.” Artest said that he used to be in the center of the storm when everything was all negative – some of it was his fault, some not, he explained – but that he stayed the same person throughout. He feels like it’s turned around because he’s been true to himself.

- Artest reflected on how the brawl in Detroit hurt his game: “I had a perfect game, off the dribble right, off the dribble left, spin moves. (After getting suspended) I put on some weight, didn’t quite feel comfortable the next year. Then in Sacramento … etc … I just didn’t have the same confidence again. My confidence now, after Game 7, is through the roof. But that doesn’t mean I have to shine. I’ll just be ready to help (next season). In Game 6 I found myself again and it carried over to Game 7.

- Ron on Phil: “I hope he comes back. His whole philosophy is team. I was getting better at the end. I had a great last week (in the triangle).” Artest added that he’s going to use the summer to get more comfortable with the offense.

- (On the defensive focus, and wearing out the man he’s guarding): “I didn’t give in this time. I played defense for the entire playoffs and did put an imprint on the game. They said they wanted some defense and I think I brought it. I can see it but I already know it’s going to happen. If you only have one day in between, I can wear you out. Especially if I start attacking you at the offensive end.

- (On Derek Fisher): “He’s unbelievable, I don’t care what anybody says. He’s a great leader. He’s going to play big when it counts. He becomes the second best player in the league when it counts.”

- (On what he learned about Kobe after a season of playing with him): “He reminds me of myself. Every team I was on I was always the hardest worker … I didn’t know what to expect from Kobe. I saw for myself he’s the hardest worker. He’s the franchise. He would practice every day if he could, but with injuries he couldn’t. When he was out there, he was the hardest worker, defensively and offensively. And getting to the gym at six in the morning. I’m like, yeah, that’s who I want to lead me. I don’t like to be lead by non-leaders. I’m not going to let you lead me (otherwise). I don’t have a problem saying, ‘Your franchise player sucks.’ I felt more than honored to have Kobe lead me.”

2010 Exit Interviews: Andrew Bynum

bynumPerhaps no Lakers player matured more during the 2009-10 campaign than Andrew Bynum, who battled through a painful right knee injury throughout the playoffs while giving the Lakers the paint presence they needed at both ends.

Bynum averaged 15.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.45 blocks on 57 percent shooting in 30 minutes per game in a mostly-healthy regular season (he played 65 games and suffered a strained Achilles injury), then contributed 8.6 points and 6.9 rebounds with 1.57 blocks in 24 minutes per playoff game.

The summary of his exit interview:

- Bynum said he’s planning on having minor right knee surgery around July 18 to correct a small tear of the anterior horn of his lateral meniscus that he suffered in Game 6 of the First Round. He had the knee drained on Tuesday morning prior to his interview, and is heading to the World Cup in South Africa to take in some soccer. He’s going to root for Brazil, “his dudes.”

- (On pushing through the injury and winning a title): “For me, I was just super, super, super happy. Probably the most happy I ever was on the sideline during that game. It would have been really disappointing to have lost that championship. Now that I have it, it’s kind of epic. We were down 13 points in that game … just amazing.”

- Bynum is planning on working with Lakers Athletic Performance Coordinator Alex McKechnie throughout the summer to focus on his core strength. “That’s just so like when you get pushed, you can find neutral to be in the best athletic position. I think that will help my game a lot.”

- (On what he learned from the veterans on L.A.): “‘I’ve been lucky to have (veterans) to learn from … I’m always going to feel like the young guy on this team. Dealing with adversity. Guys losing their games and getting them back. Trying to understand where they’re at mentally. A lot of guys started to read, which helped out. PJ pushes meditation. You figure out what works for you, and take it from there.”

- (On his mindset after the knee injury): “All I was thinking was that ‘I have to play,’ and ‘I’m going to play.’ I wanted to be a part of it anyway I could.”

- (On improving) “I definitely have work to do. I know with my size I (can be dominant). Offensively there is stuff that I can work on with core strength so I can finish over contact.” Bynum has a list of things he wants to improve heading into 2011 from his core strength, to footwork, to finishing moves & more.

- (On getting Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson back): “Super important … Fish is the best … We all want PJ to come back, every last one of us.”

- (On playing with Pau Gasol): “When we’re moving the ball, I think the high-low is very effective. It’s definitely going to work. And defensively having two seven footers really creates havoc for teams.

2010 Exit Interviews: Luke Walton

lukeWhile winning the team championship of course made the 2010 campaign an ultimate success for every Lakers player, Luke Walton’s season was a difficult one from a personal standpoint as he was limited to only 27 regular season games and limited action in 16 playoff games due to his back injury.

Walton managed only 9.4 minutes in the regular season games in which he did appear, averaging 2.4 points and 1.4 assists, and is primarily focused upon getting his back right for the 2010-2011 campaign.

Here are the highlights of his exit interview:

- (On his back): “Relatively speaking it feels pretty good right now. Obviously it was a very frustrating year (personally) in a championship year. Obviously surgery would be the last option. There are a couple trainers and work out guys I’m going to really work with hard and a lot this year. I hope so. There’s now way to really know right now until I work with specialists and focus right on the area that’s hurt. I’m optimistic about it that I’ll be able to get it where it needs to be … It’s hard. This year was probably the toughest. I was in a dark place, I was struggling, I wasn’t a happy man.”

- (On his exit interview): “It was mainly about what I’m going to do this summer. I’ve played for Phil for a long time and we talked about how frustrating it was not to be out there. Phil told me he loves having me out there and facilitating the offense.”

- (On support from his Dad and teammates): “It was huge. When I wasn’t playing especially after the pain all came back the second time (after taking time off) I was (struggling). Having his support and the support from my teammates and my coaches was huge for me. It kind of got me out of a funk and (enabled) me to get going again.”

- Walton said that he has a back condition that’s actually pretty common among people, it’s just that most people don’t happen to be professional athletes who are constantly pushing their bodies to the limits of physicality.

- (On getting Phil Jackson and Derek Fisher back): “Mitch is going to have a busy summer, because there are a lot of free agents. It speaks for itself how important it is to have (Fisher) and (Jackson) back.” Walton said that it would be more than worth it to have Fisher around even if he didn’t play, adding that he contributed considerably on the floor as well particularly in the playoffs.

- (On Phil Jackson): “I told him as I left that I hope he’s back next year. I love playing for Phil.”

2010 Exit Interviews: Lamar Odom

odomLakers forward Lamar Odom averaged 10.8 points and 9.8 rebounds with 3.3 assists in the regular season, and 9.7 points with 8.6 boards and 2.0 assists in the postseason en route to his second straight championship.

Odom’s defense was strong throughout the season, particularly late in games, capped by a terrific effort in L.A.’s championship-clinching Game 7, part of the reason he said he was so tired that he could fall asleep in his chair while doing the interview.

Here’s what else the Lakers’ lanky lefty had to say:

- Odom’s heading straight to Mexico with his wife Khloe for two weeks, before returning to address some of the injuries he played through during the season.
- On his exit interview: “It was quick.” Odom did add that he’s thinking of playing a little more small forward next year.
- More on playing small forward: “The triangle offense, our team, my size … using our ability to post up to kind of slow teams down. Our defense is predicated so much on our offense, I think I can help our team. That could be one of the lineups that we go to.”
- More on his shoulder: “I don’t know (about surgery). I’m going to take a few weeks off then get MRI’s to see where I’m at with my whole body. My body is my business. My knee is fine, but my shoulder is something that I always worry about a little bit.”
- (On winning the championship): “If feels good to be on top of the NBA. I can remember the game we lost in Boston, and how we were able to get back here, and have the opportunity to finally beat Boston. The feeling is amazing.”
- (On maturing): “I’m trying to become more responsible on and off the court. Protect my image. I’m trying, it’s a work in progress. I’m going to remain the same person.”
- (Odom is verrrry tired): “I’m tired, man. I got married in front of the reality world … came to training camp the next day … I’ll fall asleep right now. Right on this chair.”
- (On being there for Ron Artest, his childhood friend and teammate from Queens, NY, throughout the season): “I think from us having the relationship that we have, it was easy for him to listen to me. It was a voice that he’s used to hearing. I was most happy for me. We got to feel it before and understood how it felt. Yeah it was the Celtics and we wanted it, but for people to understand the work it takes to defend guys like he does. He’s always worked hard ever since we were small. I was happy that he got to (show the world) how good he is.”