Josh Howard Interview
In the 2006 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks are up 1-0 over the Miami Heat. Here's what Mavericks swingman Josh Howard said to the media on Saturday, two days after Game 1, and the day before Game 2:
Q. First of all, did you workout for Miami before the draft?
JOSH HOWARD: No.
Q. When you came in, did you feel you had to prove yourself defensively first to just... you know, having been the last pick of the first round, to kind of get the first step in the door in the NBA?
JOSH HOWARD: Yeah, for the most part, coming to the Dallas Mavericks when they had Nash, Finley and Dirk, I knew there was going to be a shot of shots to pass around so I had to find some way to get on the court.
Q. Can you talk just about defending Antoine Walker and how you can kind of keep one eye on him while also having to help out on Dwyane and Shaq?
JOSH HOWARD: Walker is a difficult cover. You know, he's hitting his 3 now, so I have to keep on him at all times and not try to help too much on the weak side. When he's making shots, it's tough. But we just have to be ready to adjust.
Q. Dwyane says he really didn't have his legs under him in the fourth quarter. Did you notice any difference and do you expect him to be any different in Game 2?
JOSH HOWARD: I think nobody had their legs in the fourth quarter. But it's a long season, guys are out there fighting hard. If he doesn't have his legs or he does have his legs, we are still going to play basketball at a high rate.
Q. When you look at your class and we hear a lot about the Top 3, Dwyane and Carmelo and LeBron, are you looking to hear your name grouped in with those guys, and down the road, are you looking at this and maybe think this is one of the best classes in a long time in the NBA?
JOSH HOWARD: Well, definitely we had one of the best classes in a long time in the NBA. As far as me having my name up there with those guys, there's not a big difference to me. Like I enjoy the game so much that if I don't get the attention or if I do, I'm going to come out night in and night out and play hard and do my job. If I'm mentioned, it's great, because those guys that you just named are a great group of guys, but if I'm not, I'm still going to be the same old Josh.
Q. Do you imagine this is what Super Bowl week is like to get reporters and hear the same thing over and over before you play the game?
JOSH HOWARD: There's really nothing you can do about it, you know, it's y'all's job to ask questions, and but for the most part, I'm enjoying it. I'm enjoying this, it's a first for me I'm having a good time with this. Hopefully we'll be doing more interviews next week where we're happy and smiling.
Q. Dirk doesn't usually have two off-shooting nights in a row. Can you talk about expecting him to bounce back?
JOSH HOWARD: Well, the situation happened where we were in the Phoenix series where he had the 11-point game and he bounced back in the next one.
We're confident. Miami is a great team. We know they are going to come out and play hard and we can't count them out. But overall, Dirk is going to come out and do what he usually does, and that's score baskets.
Q. Between those two games, did you see that intensity from him, that kind of sense that he's going to do something?
JOSH HOWARD: Yeah, for the most part, I had a feeling, because that's not our typical Dirk. Like I said, he's going to correct anything from the first game to the next game. I mean, like I said earlier, he corrected it, a whole lot.
Q. You were ACC Player of the Year, and drafted surprisingly late, how did you and your entourage analyze that late draft position for you, and do you feel that you have improved a lot since you got to the NBA sort of as like a late-bloomer type player?
JOSH HOWARD: Well, as far as me and my entourage (laughter).
Q. Your agent, your family, how did you explain being drafted so late?
JOSH HOWARD: I still can't explain it to you to this day, to be honest. I've heard so many different scenarios, situations where I do everything good, which I think you want a person like that on your team if you do everything good. But we just rolled with it. Like I said, I knew in my heart I could play basketball and I'd been playing basketball five or six years coming out, and like I said earlier, I had to work to get on the court and while I'm working knowing I'm the underdog, I didn't back down from anybody and I just kept improving my game. The sky is the limit for me.
Q. It turned out to be an advantage, like with Tony Parker with San Antonio, you got drafted by a stronger team?
JOSH HOWARD: Yeah, and I got a lot of experience, especially Michael Finley, I respected that guy so much because he taught me a lot in my first two years here. It's just been a blessing for me just to be here.
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