Sam Cassell Interview
It took Sam Cassell a long time to finally make the
all-star team. Of course, if you ask Sam - and lots of experts and fans - he should
have made the team several times already. As a member of the Minnesota
Timberwolves, he's finally done it. Cassell spoke with the media a few days before
the 2004 NBA All-Star game, in Los Angeles.
Q: Even though the Timberwolves have had success up to this point, are the Lakers the team to beat?
Cassell: Who won the championship last year? The Spurs won last year. The Spurs are the team to beat. The Lakers have a great team. They added Karl Malone and Gary Payton to Shaq (OíNeal) and Kobe (Bryant), but so far they are just a great team on paper. Sacramento is playing without Chris Webber and they have the best record in the league, so they are probably more of a team to beat than the Lakers. Thatís 24 (points) and 12 (rebounds) coming back in the next few weeks.
Q: How does it feel to finally make an All-Star team?
Cassell: Well, I donít know why it took this long. I mean, Iím not a bad guy, but I knew for a fact that I wouldnít get voted in. Itís all a political thing nowadays to make an All-Star team. Itís not like the old days when they knew what they were working with. Players got rewarded for playing on good teams. I sort of feel like a new-age version of Rod Strickland. I never understood why he didnít make it. I consider myself a student of the game, and thereís no way you can tell me that in back in 1993 Rod Strickland wasnít one of the two or three best point guards in the game of basketball. Rod Strickland was the top guard in the game of basketball, so this game for me, personally, goes out to Derek Harper and Rod Strickland. They were two guys from my era, two guys I played with, that didnít get to make it here, so I am representing for the three of us.
Q: What has happened to the Eastern Conference?
Cassell: I was talking to Baron Davis and they (the New Orleans Hornets) are moving to the Western Conference next year, so I told them they better make it to the Finals this year because in the West it is a dogfight every night. You have to be fundamentally sound and have a great gameplan for every game over here. Even against teams like Denver and Utah, games that used to be easy wins, you will get beat this year. Also, teams like San Antonio and Dallas and Houston figured it out that you need to start inside and then go outside. Once that happened, it was sickening because you just never get a night off.
Q: Is this your best year in the league?
Cassell: I think we are winning more. My numbers are better, but you have to remember, they were never bad. Now, Iíve got Kevin Garnett and Latrell (Sprewell) to throw the ball to. Iím the third option and Iím averaging 21 points a game. Itís not bad to be averaging 21 points and be the third option.