Mike James Interview
Toronto Raptors guard Mike James has bounced around the league a lot in his short NBA career. Now in his fifth season, the 6-2, 188-pound player has already been a member of the Heat, Celtics, Pistons, Bucks and Rockets before being traded to the Rockets last season. With a career average of 10.6 points and 3.8 assists per game, James has exploded in 2005-06 with averages of 17.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met with Mike in Madison Square Garden for an exclusive interview.
InsideHoops.com: A lot of people knew you were pretty good, but didn't know exactly how good. Talk about breaking out and having the great season you're having.
Mike James: Just an opportunity. I work hard in the offseason, I work hard in the season. And I didn't work hard just, I don't get repetitions in games and stuff for no reason at all. Because I believe that as hard as I practice, I can carry that over to games. I just bring my hard work to the basketball court. And I was thankful just to get an opportunity this year just to showcase who I was as a person and as a player.
InsideHoops.com: Many people weren't sure exactly what type of guard you were, as far as point guard, shooting guard or a so-called combo guard. Because you can dish, but you also can score better than most points can.
Mike James: You know, it was just easy to judge me, because they never saw me. So, because they never saw me, they just judged me on basically what somebody else said. Not really knowing for themselves what type of person, what type of player I was. They just basically just made a statement and just went off on their own limb with, OK he's a combo guard, OK he's not a point guard. Now I'm getting the opportunity to let people know that I'm just a playmaker. That's just it. It's about making plays. Whether it's scoring or passing. The name of the game is making plays. That's one thing I'm striving on and trying to get better at is consistently making the right play.
InsideHoops.com: Did you think you weren't given a full opportunity to showcase yourself with Houston and other past teams?
Mike James: I thought it was something good starting in Houston, especially the way I [played] in the playoff series. And coming back this year, I thought that that would be where I was going to be. But this is a business, and I understand that things happen. And even though that trade happened, it hurt me a little bit, beacuse I thought Houston could be a place I could lay a foundation. And so, when it happened, you just have to pick your head up and keep moving, understanding that life goes on in this game.
InsideHoops.com: Yeah, it seemed like in Houston you were coming somewhat close to taking things to the next level, but then you got sent.
Mike James: But you know, my hard work wasn't just for the Houston Rockets or whatever. I worked hard this summer, going into this summer believing that I was going to be one of the best players in the game this season. So that's how hard I worked this summer - with that focus, that mindset. So no matter where it would have been, that's the approach that I took coming into this season.
InsideHoops.com: And you're an unrestricted free agent this summer, right? Or restricted?
Mike James: Unrestricted.
InsideHoops.com: How likely is it that Toronto will get to keep you?
Mike James: I like Toronto a lot. They've given me a great opportunity here to showcase myself. And I just have to keep playing hard, just keep working. There's a lot of basketball to be played. So anything can happen at any given time. I could have had a great first half and then bombed the second half, and nobody's talking to me any longer. They're going to basically say, you're basically what we said you was in the beginning. You know what I mean? So, it all comes down to how well I play the game, for the remainder of the season. So that's my focus. My focus is nothing more than trying to play the game the right way.
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