NBA All-Star Interviews: Saturday
2005 NBA All-Star Weekend is in Denver, Colorado. Saturday, February 19 features the Slam Dunk contest, three-point shootout and other events. Below are some question and answer sessions interviews with players about last night's Rookie game and the upcoming Saturday events, as well as the actual all-star game.
LATE FRIDAY, DAYTIME SATURDAY INTERVIEWS
LUOL DENG, Chicago Bulls - After the Rookie Challenge
Q. The people were worried about whether this would be a genuine, competitive affair. I don't know whether you saw last year's game on television or not, but were you satisfied with tonight's game? Was it a genuine competitive game?
LUOL DENG: I thought it was. It was pretty decent. I think the second half, everybody picked it up a little bit, especially just coming out right in the second half. I think the Sophomores must have spoke about it in the locker room because they came out pretty intense, and we could see that.
Q. You had a pretty good game, and the thing that was rather obvious, you and your teammate, Ben (Gordon) had a balanced game. You not only looked to score but you looked to set up other teammates. Were you happy to display that all-around?
LUOL DENG: Yeah, when we came out here, we wanted to get everybody involved. We spoke about it in the locker room. We just wanted everybody to have fun, and I thought we did that as a team. Everybody was satisfied with what happened out there. But yeah, we're just looking just to have fun and just make plays. Yeah, didn't want to look greedy out there.
Q. What did you learn here? When you leave and go back to Chicago and you have to put your finger on something, what did you learn? What was the best thing that you take out of this?
LUOL DENG: I mean, just being around each other, we just kind of get a sense of the competitive nature of those guys. I mean, it's just good to be around these guys. It was a lot of fun. That's the one thing, I just got closer to the guys and I got to know them personally. I got to know them better than I did before, so that was a good thing. That's the main thing out of this one.
LEBRON JAMES, Cleveland Cavaliers - After the Rookie Challenge
Q. You're the busiest man in show business. How are you going to get it all done this weekend?
LEBRON JAMES: It's called a schedule. Everything is in time frames, to my liking. I'm going to take care of business on and off the court and get everything done.
Q. What's it like to be a prodigy?
LEBRON JAMES: Can you rephrase that? Give me a better sense, I don't understand that.
Q. What's it like to be so good at something, a maestro?
LEBRON JAMES: I don't even look at it like that. I just go out, just play my game. I'm glad I've got the God-given talent to go out and showcase my talent. I don't take that for granted. I'm happy to go out every night and play the game of basketball.
Q. Was there any chance you would not play tonight?
LEBRON JAMES: No, the only chance would have been me missing the shoot-around this morning, but that's not going to keep me out of no game. The fans are here for us to come play and I'm not going to sit out.
Q. Obviously it's been tough for Carmelo to be here in his home court and not be able to play the All-Star Game, and he put extra motivation into tonight's game. Was it nice to see him play as well as he did?
LEBRON JAMES: Always. I know he can play this game of basketball. Things have not went his way this year, but he's starting to get his mind straight and not worry about the off-the-court things. I'm so happy for him he got the MVP tonight. It's supposed to work out this way. It's going to work out the best for him.
Q. A lot of the so-called big names don't do the Slam Dunk any more, if you were completely healthy, would you have done it and how do you feel about that?
LEBRON JAMES: I think it would have been a great possibility to be doing that. Right now, you could just see that my jumping ability right now is not where I want it to be. I think if I was very healthy or 100 percent healthy, like I was before, there would be a great possibility of me being in the contest.
Q. I understand Usher is going to buy a piece of the Cavaliers with this transaction, do you have any aspiration in music or movies?
LEBRON JAMES: No, not right now. My main focus is on winning basketball games, helping my team get better and taking of business.
Q. Why don't the big guys don't do it any more (dunk contest)?
LEBRON JAMES: Because all the dunks is taken. Ain't no more dunks. If we come up with some new dunks, people might do it. Every time it's a dunk contest, people say "we have seen that before."
Q. How is the learning curve speeded up for you so fast to where in this second year, you're really just seem to understand things in advance?
LEBRON JAMES: Just being a student of the game, just wanting to get better. Knowing that if I got better that my teammates will also get better and that it will help our team. That's all it's about.
CHRIS BOSH, Toronto Raptors - After the Rookie Challenge
Q. Who did you enjoy playing with the most?
CHRIS BOSH: I enjoyed playing with everybody, no one particular person. Everybody shot the ball. The second half we stepped our defense up and we just went out there and played the right way.
Q. What are you looking forward to for the next half of the season?
CHRIS BOSH: Well, I'm looking forward to turning our slump around. We have to hit the ground running the second half. We don't have much room for error at all as a team, so I'm looking forward to that challenge. Our team is just stepping up and taking the challenge and hopefully, you know, getting on a roll, and you know, let's see what happens. Hopefully we'll make the playoffs.
Q. Now that you're in your second year, how has your game developed and what can we look forward to from you in the future?
CHRIS BOSH: I'm just being more aggressive. I've stepped up my rebounding, as far as scoring is concerned I have a lot of -- a lot of great coaches that help me with scoring, getting extra shots. Just working hard and stepping my role up on the team and trying to be more of a leader.
Q. What was with all of these minutes you played out there, do you get tired at all and are you going to be all right for Tuesday's game?
CHRIS BOSH: I'll be fine. This altitude got me a little bit but I probably needed a nice work out so it won't be too bad for practice on Monday.
CARMELO ANTHONY, Denver Nuggets - After the Rookie Challenge
Q. How does it feel to get the MVP in your hometown?
CARMELO ANTHONY: It's a wonderful feeling. You know, this is another positive thing I can put on my resume. It's a great feeling coming out here on my home court and getting MVP of the Rookie-sophomore Game.
Q. Any extra incentive that you were not chosen for the regular game; you wanted to really show your stuff in this affair?
CARMELO ANTHONY: I play basketball, man. I go out there and I play basketball. I can't hold my head down because I didn't make the game. Like I tell everybody, this is only my second year in the NBA. I am going to be here for a long time. I ain't going nowhere.
Q. For a guy who is not playing on Sunday, you've had yourself a busy couple of days. Can you take us through it all?
CARMELO ANTHONY: All I can say is I'm hosting the All-Star Weekend, so I don't think I've got to say no more about that.
Q. What was the difference between last year's game and this year's game in terms of the style?
CARMELO ANTHONY: It's a little bit more competitive I think. That's what I'm talking with, the Sophomores, we have one year under our belt to really figure out the game and everybody got better. I mean over that one-year span everybody got better, and you could really see it in the second half.
Q. The Commissioner said he was going to talk to you guys before the game about making it not like last year. Did he end up talking to you guys?
CARMELO ANTHONY: I think he sent some of us messages.
Q. What did they say?
CARMELO ANTHONY: They said, you know, make the game competitive. He didn't want the game like it was last year. Got a little out of hand last year, which we all agreed on.
Q. What do you like about playing with LeBron?
CARMELO ANTHONY: That boy got eyes on the front and back and both sides of his head. He got eyes everywhere. He's always playing hard. Only thing I like about him, he looks for his teammates first, then he goes out there. He's not a selfish player. I can play with somebody like that all year long, maybe in the future we can get him out here in Denver.
VINCE CARTER, New Jersey Nets
Q: Does some of whatís happened in Toronto over the last two months in a way vindicate your belief that you needed to leave the Raptors?
Carter: I donít know. Itís always tough when youíre losing and itís always tough when everyone is scrutinized for every little thing. Itís tough. For me, it was time for a change. As far as whatís going on now, Iím seeing it from the outside. When I talk to some of the guys on that team, I donít ask about that stuff. Iíve been there before. I know it can be sensitive and it tends to wear on you and you try to not let it wear on you.
Q: Is it nice to have another marquee player, like a Jason Kidd, to shoulder some of the burden when things arenít going well?
Carter: It makes it easier, because you can look out for each other. You can protect each other, on and off the court. First and foremost, I know and understand itís his team. And Iím looking to bring what I can every night to help us win.
Q: What would you like your legacy in Toronto to be?
Carter: Everyday, I tried to accomplish my goal and that was to put Toronto on the map, bring the love of NBA basketball to Canada and to help Canada get the recognition it deserves. The NBA should educate fans and players on Canada and everything about Canada. Most people donít realize what it has to offer. It wasnít an easy sell on other players in terms of our team trying to bring in good players to compete for a championship.
Q: Does it still feel weird not to be in a Raptors uniform?
Carter: Itís definitely weird at times, mostly after I watch them play, because I watch their games when I can. Iím a Net now and I can definitely differentiate it. But itís still weird, because I talk to some of the guys and I try to help them out. I love a lot of these guys.
GRANT HILL, Orlando Magic
Q: What has been the most satisfying thing for you this season?
Hill: I think just being out there and playing, being healthy. That to me, is believe it or not, more satisfying to me than being an All-Star. Iím appreciative of being an All-Star but my main goal is to be healthy. For the most part, Iíve felt great. I havenít had any real problems. Itís good for the local media to talk about how bad Iím playing as opposed to how my ankle is.
Q: As someone who was once touted as the savior of the NBA, what advice would you have for LeBron James?
Hill: Stay healthy. (Laughter) LeBron, to be so young, has handled himself tremendously. A lot has been put on him, even this weekend, wanting him to be in the slam dunk contest, heís playing tonight, heíll play Saturday, he played last night, he played this past Sunday. Heís handled himself so well. Heís a great talent, a great person and itís good to know that in guys like LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Amare Stoudemire, we have some really talented young players to help keep this thing going in years to come.
Q: Were there times during the comeback process that you felt it wasnít going to happen for you?
Hill: There were some times when I thought I maybe wouldnít be able to get back, that perhaps it wasnít meant to be. But, I just kept pressing on and each time I learned a little more about what works and what doesnít, and I think, sitting out last year gave me much-needed time to completely heal. Usually at this time of the year, Iím on crutches, so itís good to be sitting here healthy.
ANTAWN JAMISON, Washington Wizards
Q: Who helped you the most during the tough times when you were traded and trying to find a home in the NBA?
Jamison: Definitely my family and friends, but Vince was there, too. We talked a lot all the time and he told me to stay focused, keep my head up and itís ironic because when he was going through his trying times, I was there to really help him out.
Q: What is it like for you and Vince [Carter] to be on the same All-Star team?
Jamison: We never talked about it at North Carolina. We always talked about being drafted and playing against each other. This might be the only time we might be teammates in an NBA uniform and we are both enjoying it. Itís always fun to enjoy a moment like this with somebody you grew up with.
Q: What is it like playing with the best of the best?
Jamison: Itís unbelievable. We just had a meeting not too long and youíre in there with Shaq, LeBron and Grant Hill. It says a lot and this is the biggest day for the NBA, all these guys playing with each other, playing against each other. Iím fortunate that I have the opportunity. Itís like a dream come true.
BEN WALLACE, Detroit Pistons
Q: How do you feel to be playing in this yearís All-Star Game?
Wallace: Iím just excited to be here and to have the first half of the season over with so all of can come together and give the fans what they want to see so we can get back to playing basketball. Iíve played with most of these guys or against most of these guys, and Iím just excited to be out here and having fun.
Q: What are your thoughts about Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton not being here? Wallace: Both of them could have made it, or one of them could have made it. If you look at this team, you say ďWho are you going to bump off?Ē You know, I would give up my spot to one of them because they are my teammates. But anybody else, you look down the line, and who are you going to bump off?
Q: How do you feel about your team right now? Wallace: Weíve been to the championship, and we know what it takes to get there. Right now we are really trying to win the championship in the first quarter of every game. Weíre also going out there trying to have a little fun and play some good basketball.
Q: What kind of impact do think the addition of Alonzo (Mourning) to the Heat will have on the Eastern Conference this season? Wallace: Adding a guy like Alonzo to a team thatís already number one in the East definitely makes them the favorite. Heís going to bring a light to the team. If Alonzo comes in there and plays half as decent as we know he is capable of playing, weíre going to have our hands full going down there trying to face Mourning, (Dwyane) Wade, and Shaq.
Q: How do you feel you relate to non-NBA basketball players and the fans in this league? Wallace: I think a lot of fans can relate to me as a player. You know, Iím somebody who wasnít drafted, somebody who was told that they werenít good enough to play in this league. Fans can relate that to everyday life. I think thatís why they can relate to me so well.
Q: What has been the key factor to the Pistonsí success? Wallace: We have a group of guys who enjoy winning, and we have a coaching staff that loves to win. Once you put that together, everybody goes out onto the court pulling for each other to succeed and have fun while you are doing it.