Michael Finley Interview
Friday night the San Antonio Spurs beat the Dallas Mavericks 91-86 to tie the series at three games apiece, forcing a Game 7. Spurs swingman Michael Finley, who spent most of his career as a Maverick, was very good with 16 points and 6 rebounds. Here's what he said to the media in the post-game press conference:
Question: Do you get additional motivation when Mavs fans boo you?
Mike Finley: The boos, I think, it's unfortunate. Especially in a place where I felt I gave my all for eight years. Blood and guts on the court. Tried to be a model citizen in the community. And to come back and hear the boos, it's kind of disheartening. Not even able to [have] my family come to the games and enjoy the games because of the things they're saying. So from that standpoint, it's kind of disheartening. But I try to always turn a negative into a positive. The first game I came back this year, I got a lot of cheers. And it was a little bit emotional for me. That game was tougher than any of these games since they've been booing me. So now that they're booing me, it makes me focus a lot more. I know now that I'm the enemy. And it makes me go out there and play harder. It was difficult to play when they were cheering me. So I just made a negative into a positive.
Question: Do you think it's just a product of the playoffs, the rivalry?
Mike Finley: I don't know, because I'm hearing things like "traitor." I'm not a traitor. The Mavs got rid of me. I'm hearing things like "whiner." I didn't do anything. I got hit. So it's kind of disheartening to hear the things that some of the fans are saying. Like I said, I thought I'd done a lot for this organization, as far as just being a model citizen, but I guess that doesn't matter.
Question: When you signed with the Spurs, was the championship tradition a big reason why? And talk about your terrific game tonight.
Mike Finley: One of the reasons I signed with the Spurs, I wanted to put myself in a position to have a chance to be on a championship-caliber team. Me signing here doesn't guarantee us a championship. I just felt that if I sign here, we had a great opportunity to make a championship run. They had a lot of things established already, as far as coaches, players and such. I knew I was coming to something that I wouldn't mess up. That I would just basically just fit in. And the situation, these last couple of games, has been real intense. Ten, eleven guys on the team already before me have been in even tougher situations. The NBA Finals. Getting blown out by Detroit by 20-plus points a couple of times and having to go back to Game 7 in San Antonio to win a title. All the experienced that they've been through, they're just carrying me along... I'm just riding their coattails right now.
Question: How much do you think the Spurs past playoff experiences in key Game 7's will help?
Mike Finley: It will be very beneficial. We have a lot of guys who have been in that experience on the highest level, being in the seventh game of an NBA finals. Hopefully that can be to our advantage. We still can't go into that game, because we were successful last year, in Game 7, overconfident. We still have to go in and play with a chip on our shoulder, so to speak, and go in there to have one purpose, to win a ball game.
Question: Popovich looked to you for leadership a lot tonight.
Mike Finley: Those guys have been in the situations a lot more than me, more intense situations. I pick and choose my chances to speak. To tap guys on the back when they need it. To give encouragement when they need it. Just try to be a vocal leader, like I was here, when I played in Dallas. But it's kind of in a different role. I don't want to overdo my leadership role, just pick and choose my points, and hopefully it's carrying over.
Question: How comfortable are you as a starter?
Mike Finley: This certain series, it makes me real comfortable. Being that they were booing me, I can get that out of my system early. You get to get into a flow a lot easier. Defensively you know the strategies. Offensively you know what we're trying to do. It fits me well for this series. Next series, I don't know.
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