The largest of L.A.’s three recent free agent additions to the team, 15-year veteran big man Theo Ratliff, portrayed his excitement to be joining a two-time defending champion during his introductory press conference on Friday.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “To have the opportunity to come to a franchise like this – it will be my 16th league in the league – and to be wanted by a team that has won a championship two seasons in a row is a great feeling.”
Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak was similarly happy with bringing Ratliff in.
“Theo has long been considered to be one of the best defensive big men in the league,” said Kupchak. “He is a consummate professional and a welcome addition to our team. Together with Bynum, Gasol, Odom and Artest, he gives us a formidable and deep front line.”
Below are the highlights of Ratliff’s presser:
- Ratliff on what he hopes to bring to LA: “I definitely want to come in and do everything possible that I need to do to help continue this legacy. My role doesn’t change, every team I’m on, I’m noted for being a defensive stopper. Plugging that middle, rebounding and being a tenacious defensive player and altering shots.”
- (On having the chance to play in LA): “To have this opportunity is a blessing. All the things that I’ve been through as far as injuries, all the workouts, the rehab that I’ve done has always been to try to get to the point where I can win a championship, be on a great team and just enjoy the game. I enjoy playing the game so much, it’s the only reason why I still play. Still getting that rush is something that I continue to enjoy.
- Ratliff described how his body feels, and how important taking certain vitamins and minerals has been to him: “I’ve stayed charged up, taking my minerals and vitamins every single day and that’s been a big key to my success (staying healthy). That’s been pretty much my savior, learning about mineral deficiencies that my body was going through, why I was breaking down throughout my career. Being able to get with a doctor to be able to change that has me at this point to where when people see me play, they don’t see a 37-year old guy that went through five or six major injuries.” Ratliff said he still has a lot of pop in his step, a lot of leaping ability and the same tenacity he had when he was younger.
- (On playing with and leading a young guy like Andrew Bynum): “Oh yes (I enjoy it). Just the manhood knowledge that I have as far as the things I’ve been through in this league, I always try to mentor the young guys and try to show them the right path that a lot of the successful people in the league (have done). A few guys listen, some don’t, and then they come back later on and say, ‘Yeah man I wish I would have listened.’
- Ratliff also described what he sees in Bynum: “He’s a great young player. Very, very big guy that has great skills. He could be one of the top centers to play this game, in my opinion. Going through those injuries, I know how it goes, is rough on you, and I wish him all the best in his rehab. Hopefully he can get himself back 100 percent and we can do this thing.”
- The Wyoming product got quite excited when asked about playing for Phil Jackson: “Oh man. That’s always been a dream of mine. To be able to play under Phil … You can ask anybody who’s talked to me about basketball. When they talk about a coach like Phil Jackson – who’s going to win, who’s going to lose in the playoffs and different things of that nature. It’s unprecedented on how he gets guys to step up to the plate. From the top guy to the 12th man on the bench. He’s a guy that always gets the best out of his players and that’s something I’ve always admired, my wife’s always admired about his coaching style.”