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Media Day Interviews

Sat, 06/27/2009 - 12:22pm
Untitled Document BLAKE GRIFFIN: #1

What will it be like sharing the city with Kobe?

Blake GriffinBlake Griffin“I don’t know how you share it with somebody like that, but I’ll take my little corner, and we’ll go to work.”

The Clippers are known as one of the worst franchises in the League. Are you ready to embrace being part of the solution?

“I am. I’m not worried about anything that’s happened in the past. I wasn’t a part of that, and a lot of the guys that are there now weren’t a part of that. So, we’re only looking forward to the future.”

What are some adjustments you have to make to get ready for the pro game?

“Just learning how to play in the League with guys that are bigger, faster, and stronger. It’s a lot different than college. You have to learn how to be on the road for however long and just adjust to everything and make sure you take care of your body.”

What’s it gonna be like without Taylor and the rest of your family?

“[Taylor’s] been with me since Day 1. I just wish him the best. I don’t know what my parents are gonna do. Hopefully, my brother is playing somewhere, and they’re gonna wanna be in both places to see both of us play, so…I know I’ll always have my family just a quick phone call away, you know, a quick flight away.”

What was the most fun part of the process?

“Just getting to travel around and meet different people. Since the season ended, I’ve been all over the place and met a lot of cool people and got a lot of good advice. I came out to New York about a month ago and met Nate Robinson, Allan Houston, Reggie Jackson. I’ve just been all over the place.”

HASHEEM THABEET: #2

What will it be like matching up with guys like Dwight Howard next season?

Hasheem ThabeetHasheem Thabeet“It’s just another challenge for me. I grew up in a different kind of culture, my dad passed when I was 14 years old, and I got the chance to come out here. I’ve had to face so many challenges, so that’s gonna be a challenge that I’ll have to face, too.”

Talk about the experience leading up to the Draft.

“To me, it’s just great. This is a blessing, again. This is so many kids’ dream, and to be in this position, I have no words for that. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a great opportunity. Not that many people get this opportunity. I’m just happy.”

Talk about how tough it was playing in the Big East. Several Big East players will be selected in this Draft. What does that say about the conference?

“The league was tough. The three years I’ve been in the Big East, it’s been great. I was glad I chose to go to UCONN. The coaches, my teammates helped me a lot growing up as a player and as a person. The conference itself was tough. I’m about to be in a different kind of league; it’s a men’s league. Everybody’s way more mature and everybody’s focused because this is their job, so, it’s gonna be different compared to the Big East. I already got to go to a couple games and see how physical and how fast the pace of the game is. I’m just excited.”

Do you think you can contribute right away?

“Definitely could. I always work hard, and I know it’s gonna take me a little while for me to adjust to the game pace and the team chemistry and stuff, but I always try and go out there and work as hard as I can. The guys are way more experienced and more advanced. I’ve only played basketball for seven years, so it’s gonna be tough for me. A lot of teams asked me, ‘What will be the toughest part?’ I told them, ‘In college, they let you just stay in the paint and just block whoever comes in.’ In the League, you’re gonna have [defensive] three seconds, so that’s a thing I’ll have to adjust to as soon as possible.”

What did you work on leading up to the Draft?

“Just fundamentals and a lot of offense. People always criticize my offense, so that’s all I work on all the time. During summer break, I don’t work on defense at all. I was trying to get as much repetition as I can, you know, shooting the ball out to fifteen feet, trying to make that jump shot consistent.”

RICKY RUBIO: #5

Talk about your buyout.

Ricky RubioRicky Rubio“My agent’s are working on that, so I’m not thinking about my buyout. I know that when I say I have to go, [my team] will let me go and be friendly with me. “

Talk about the transition from Europe to the NBA.

“I’ve been playing against professional players and to come here and play against the best players in the NBA is a good change for me. I have to improve my English, I know, but there are many things to help me in this country, so it will be easy. My family will be near to me.”

Which NBA point guards do you admire?

“Right now, it’s like Jason Kidd, Chris Paul, Steve Nash. They all have similar style to me, you know, love to run and make their teammates better. That’s very important because if they make an assist and everyone’s happy and the crowd enjoys it, that’s perfect.”

How does it feel to have this sort of rock star status?

“It means I’m doing my job [well], you know. They are recognizing [the job I’m doing] and that’s great. I’m so happy to make that happen.”

Are there any teams that you don’t want to play for?

“We just want to see which team picks me. I don’t want to say, ‘I want this team,’ and then I get picked by another team, and then it looks like I don’t want to play there. I want to play in the NBA. I don’t care.”

JONNY FLYNN: #6

Talk about the 6-overtime game.

Jonny FlynnJonny Flynn “It was just a national coming-out party for me, you know. That game really put me on the map. People from the West coast started knowing about Jonny Flynn, the Midwest started knowing about Jonny Flynn. I think that game really boosted my draft stock, and it was just really beneficial for me.

I sit back sometimes and think, “If I didn’t play UConn, or if we lost that game, or if it didn’t go six overtimes, where would Jonny Flynn be right now?” I answer that question, I’d probably still be in school. That was a game that really helped me out and really got my draft stock up and made the decision easier.”

What else do you think helped boost your stock?

“[Playing against Oklahoma] in the NCAA Tournament, our team played well. We just ran into a buzz saw, but you just always want to finish a game out. You never know who’s watching the game. You don’t want to just lie down, and that’s one thing I was telling my team during the game. You don’t want to come out here and get embarrassed on national TV, so I think I tried to lead by staying out there on the court and finished the game strong.”

Talk about the experience leading up to the draft

“A lot of people say this is a nerve-racking experience, but what keeps me calm is a lot of people wish they were in our shoes right now. A lot of people wish they were invited to the green room, talking to you guys, Madison Square Garden, taking photo shoots and things like that. So that’s the thing that keeps me going, keeps me energetic. No matter how the draft turns out tomorrow, just to be experiencing this is great.”

Did you watch the playoffs and how did it feel knowing that you’re going to be playing against those guys next year?

“During the playoffs, you start rooting for guys out there on the court. Then you gotta sit back and think, “I’m gonna be playing against these guys next year,” so you’ve got to cut that out right away. It was just great to see them go at it and compete like that, and hopefully I can get in the right situation and be there in the playoffs next year.”

Where do you think you fit in with the other PG’s in his draft?

“I think we all bring something different to the table. A lot of people say this is a weak draft, but not at the point guard position, and I think I fit in right there at the top. My athleticism, my knack for getting in the lane and creating plays, I think that puts me at the top.”

STEPHEN CURRY: #7

Talk about your feelings leading up to the Draft.

Stephen CurryStephen Curry“It’s more weird for me, just being around the NBA with my dad. I’ve seen his career, walking through the locker room, being at the shootarounds and stuff, but I didn’t see the beginning of his career, so this is a whole different experience for me. He’s here to enjoy it with me, so it’s fun.”

How has your dad helped you through this experience?

“If I have any questions, it’s nice to have him in my back pocket to ask him what to expect in this transition. There hasn’t been anything specific, but I know down the road, I can ask him how I’m supposed to succeed and how I can emulate his 16-year career. He’s told me all his stories of where he was when he got the call that he got drafted. He didn’t come up to the draft itself, but he got together with his family and had a big party. It’s actually his birthday, so it’s a good birthday present I can give him.”

What’s the biggest difference transitioning to point guard?

“Making those decisions for the entire game. You’re the starting point for your team’s success. That’s something I learned last year, how to do that for an entire season and really take that challenge on. I think it’s something you’ve just got to continue to work and get better and be a student of the game.

Chris Paul’s actually in my agency, and he’s a guy that I’ve talked to a bunch about what it was like to go from a college PG to an NBA PG and trying to get to the All-Star level that he’s at. He just told me that you’ve got to be hungry and keep working, and you’ll be fine.”

When you were young, your father never let you shoot three-pointers?

“Yeah, I loved when he went to the locker room because I would forget that rule. It helped me, you know, starting in close, getting my confidence, moving out. But shooting the NBA three growing up, you knock them down and people are like, “That little kid’s making shots.” It kinda just gives you confidence and you keep doing it and keep doing it, and I did that growing up, so I think that’s how I developed my shot.

DEMAR DEROZAN: #9

What are some things you’ve been trying to show teams that you can do at the next level?

“That I can shoot from the outside and handle the ball. Those are two things that I know each team that I worked out for saw.”

Which skill of yours will enable you to compete and contribute right away next year?

“Defense. I really stressed it on defense. Playing under Tim Floyd for a year, he really helped me out on defense and understanding the defensive end. And that’s one thing that I really take pride in, one thing that I use to really try to separate myself from other players at my position.”

Did you always take pride in defense?

“That’s something I really took pride in under Tim Floyd. He really helped me out in my understanding of how to play defense and really lock down your man, really cause havoc for your opponent.”

You’re going to face guys like Kobe and LeBron. Can you defend every night and still be productive on offense?

“Exactly. I think that’s why I’m happy to have played under Tim Floyd, because I have that asset coming into the NBA. At this position, you’re playing against Kobe, LeBron, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter. Players night after night that you really have to be prepared for.

How much attention do you pay to the buzz leading up to the Draft?

“I doubt every player here paid attention to the mock drafts, but you definitely pay attention to the trades because you can get an idea how the business is and the position that it could put each of us in.”

BRANDON JENNINGS: #10

What’s Ricky Rubio like?

Brandon JenningsBrandon Jennings “Actually, Ricky’s a cool guy. He’s kinda quiet and laid back, but he’s a cool guy. We really didn’t talk much, but in December, I was asking him if he was coming out and he was telling me no.”

What prompted you to make those comments about Rubio prior to the Draft?

“Well, I’m a competitor, and I like to compete against the best. Since he’s the best PG in the draft as everyone says, then I wanna go against the best. I was wrong for saying the kid is all hype. Like I said, he has more experience than everyone in this draft. But, I’m a competitor and I want the top spot, and I think I let my competitiveness get the best of me a little bit. I just want to prove to everybody that I’m the best. At the end of the day, I wanna be the best. That’s all.”

Do you think that you’re undervalued?

“Yeah, I think because I didn’t get a lot of playing time, my stats weren’t as high as everyone thought they were going to be. It was a real challenging season, but when I stepped into these workouts, I think I surprised a lot of people. You know, when you get in the open court with me, you gotta try to keep up because I am pretty fast.”

What’s your best memory from this past season?

“I think playing against Earl Boykins. Yeah, playing against little Earl. We were in the same league, so we played against each other three times. Just having to guard him full court for a good thirty minutes was kind of hard for me, but I held my own. It was a challenge. Just to go against a guy that played in the League for a long time was really good for me.”

How’s your Italian right now?

It’s alright. My little brother (Terrence Phillips) speaks it better than I do because he went to school out there, so he speaks it way better than I do.

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