2007 NBA Basketball All-Star Interviews: Friday
The weekend began today (Friday). Here are some NBA AllStar player interviews from this afternoon.
GILBERT ARENAS, Washington Wizards
Q: There is a mass of humanity in this town. I'm assuming with your personality this is right up your alley?
Arenas: It is. Although I'm going to bring it down a notch here. People say I'm the best dressed out of the East All Stars, so note that: Best Dressed, East All Stars.
Q: Is there a better venue than this city for the All Star Game?
Arenas: This is going to be great. When the USA Basketball was here the fans came out and showed their support. So this is going to open up David Stern's eyes to see if he really wants the game here.
Q: In this kind of a game can we see a little bit more of one on one battle between you and Kobe Bryant?
Arenas: I don't know. We might have to stick each other, but it's nothing personal. What happened up in LA and what happened in Washington is just part of the game. So if we have a chance to stick each other, we're both going for an award.
Q: The word is that you have some jerseys laid out, what are you going to do with them?
Arenas: At tomorrow's practice with the fans I'm going to give out 100 Agent Zero jerseys. And since everybody knows, we'll see if I can still sneak it on. I'm going to try to wear the Agent Zero jersey in the game. What's the chances of me getting away with that?
Q: This is your third All Star Game, but it's the first time you'll start. How do you feel about that?
Arenas: It's an opportunity just to be here, period. I get my third ring. I never imagined this growing up. You always wanted to be an All Star, but three consecutive, I mean, it's amazing that I'm here again for the third consecutive time. And starting, you know, I get more than nine minutes this time (laughter). So we'll see how that plays out. If I'm rolling, the hibachi is on, you know what I'm going for.
CHRIS BOSH, Toronto Raptors
Q: Can you talk about the play of Andrea Bargnani?
Bosh: He's been playing well. He kind of struggled early, which happens with rookies, but he's been working on his game. He works so hard every day. The things that guys don't see every day is he's putting in the work. He's working on his jump shot, working on his post game. He's really helped us out. He's that guy who can spread the defense out, rebound for us, and give us some good minutes at the post spot.
Q: Are you completely comfortable as a Top 15 player in the league?
Bosh: I think so. I don't know what the ranking is, but I'm pretty comfortable in my situation. I always know it's a challenge. I always know it's going to be pretty difficult, but that's what it's about. It's what I expected when I came into the league. Just to be in my position, I'm proud of it and I have to make sure I put in the work necessary to keep it up.
Q: Does it hit home, though, that you're coming here as a starter in the All Star Game, that you're one of the elite players in the league?
Bosh: Yeah, it hit home. The starting thing, it still blows my mind when I think about it. My family, they're all excited. Everybody is really excited. This one is a lot different this one is a lot different from last year.
Q: How has the success of the Raptors changed your All Star Weekend?
Bosh: Well, we won our last game and I just came in with a great attitude (laughter).
LeBRON JAMES, Cleveland Cavaliers
Q: When you got drafted you said you were going to light up Cleveland like Vegas. How does it feel to actually be in Vegas for the All Star Game?
James: It feels good. Any time you get the opportunity to come to Vegas and the fans voted me in and you get the opportunity to go out there and play in front of the fans that love your game, it's a good time. It's a good thing for the NBA.
Q: With you being the MVP of last year's game, I really haven't seen your picture around in the city much, how do you feel about that (laughter)?
James: I really don't understand that. I don't have an answer for that. Maybe we can go to Kinko's, get some pictures and post them up on the walls.
Q: Is it more special for the players because it's here?
James: I'm not sure. I think it's always special, because it's All Star Weekend. I think with Vegas, though, being the brightest city in America, and having the brightest stars coming to this venue, I think that it has a little bit more funk to it.
Q: With the players from your draft class doing so well, have you guys talked about trying to be the best draft class ever?
James: Definitely, definitely, of course. We want to be the best class to ever come into the NBA. It's good for our draft class. We just keep trying to do bigger and better things.
Q: Yourself, Carmelo and Dwyane have sort of been the cover athletes for that class. Do you think Chris Bosh belongs there, too?
James: He's playing very good basketball. I think so. He's leading his team to a lot of victories and playing very inspired basketball in Toronto. The fans love him, and they should. The guy is a good player.
JASON KIDD, New Jersey Nets
Q: Amare Stoudemire said he reached out to you about micro fracture surgery, what did you tell him?
Kidd: I talked to him over the summer, and the first thing I told him was not to participate in the qualifying for the Olympics, just because it was too soon. You have to give the knee time to rest. You know, it's like when you have a pothole, you have to fill it and you have to let the cement dry before you drive over it. So I just told him to relax and be patient with rehab and do the little things. He did all the hard work.
Q: Are you surprised by how quickly he's gotten back to form?
Kidd: Yes, because big guys have had a lot of problems with that surgery because of their weight, but he's done a wonderful job by keeping his weight down. It's also just his character. He wants to get back to that level and he's back.
Q: How do you handle all the trade rumors?
Kidd: Well, the way that we've performed up to this point is definitely maybe below average in the sense of our record as a team. So anytime that you're not where you're supposed to be there's going to be rumors or things are going to start flying about guys being traded. And that's just part of the business.
EDDIE JORDAN, Washington Wizards
Q: From a coach's perspective, would you like to have a team in Las Vegas?
Jordan: I think our commissioner is a very bright man and his decision is something that we all can live with. And if he thinks that Vegas is ready for a team, I think that's sound. I think it's good. After all, he is a Rutgers grad.
Q: For a guy who might win a third straight MVP, do you think people have any clue how good Steve Nash is? As a coach, why is he so good?
Jordan: Nash is good because, it's the old adage, if you help a teammate first, you've helped yourself. He's the ultimate in that. He makes sure that everybody is good, everybody has quality looks and eventually he's the man. He's just a special player. He can get where he wants to get with the dribble. He possesses all the skills. He can make tough layups, he can make shots, he can make threes, he can get easier looks. If you go by, if you help your teammates first, you eventually help yourself. He's the perfect example.
Q: Miami has been on a roll lately, are they still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference?
Jordan: Miami and Detroit. I wouldn't count New Jersey out. They've lost guys for extended amounts coming down the stretch, but certainly Detroit, they've had a great run. We beat them twice in one week. I hate to remind them, but they had won seven or eight in a row and I think them and Miami are the team to beat.
Q: Can you talk about being the coach for the East?
Jordan: Well, you don't go into the season saying, "We really want to be the All Star coaching staff." That's the last thing on your mind. It's just how things work out.
DWYANE WADE, Miami Heat
Q: Talk about your party last night.
Wade: It was beautiful. I had an unbelievable experience. Converse really did an unbelievable job. The party was great. We had fun. Rick Ross and Common came and shut it down. A lot of people came out and supported me. I really appreciate that, especially during All Star Weekend, when there are a lot of things going on.
Q: If you had to put together the ultimate All Star team, who would your five starters be?
Wade: I would take the five that's here right now.
Q: Can you give us your picks for the dunk contest?
Wade: I'm going to go with it's a tough one, but I'm going to go with the defending champion, Nate, just because he's the champion, and us champions have to stick together.
Q: Have you heard about the race between Charles Barkley and Dick Bavetta?
Wade: Yes, I did, I've heard about it. I'm going with Dick all the way. Dick Bavetta is going to kill him by a mile. That's for Chuck not putting me in his Top 5. I don't really appreciate that, Chuck, wherever you're at.
Q: Scottie Pippen has talked about making a comeback and he mentioned that he thought he'd be a perfect fit with you and Shaq. Has he talked to you about that?
Wade: No, I haven't talked to him. But just like I said earlier, Pippen is a great player. I'm open to anything. I never thought I would play with Shaq, so I'm playing with Shaq and Gary, guys I used to play with on video games. If you put Pippen in that mix, it would be crazy.
RAY ALLEN, Seattle Supersonics
Q: Do you think Vegas would be a good city to have an NBA franchise in?
Allen: I think so. I think Vegas is one of, if not, the fastest growing cities in this country. There are a lot of markets that we can grow to in the NBA, and I think this should definitely be the front runner for the NBA. Because you talk about this game and there are so many great players and now we're talking about the international market, the game has grown and before too long 30 teams might not be enough to fill the level of basketball competition that the world possesses.
Q: Considering that you've made so many All Star teams, what was the feeling like when you arrived in Vegas to participate this year?
Allen: It's like when you have that sense of home, when you arrive at the airport and you're picking your car up from the parking garage and you know you're going home and you feel relaxed. It's somewhat the same feeling because you've been here, you know the people who you're about to encounter from the NBA side, from your peers that you play with from the peers that you play with. You know where you're going, you're in a comfort zone and that's a great feeling to have.
CARLOS BOOZER, Utah Jazz
Q. Who do you like in the dunk contest?
Boozer: I don't know, all those guys are obviously high flyers, but I think I'm going with Gerald Green from Boston. I think he wants to bust out on the scene. He's probably got some tricks for us. But I'm going to go like everyone else and be a fan.
Q. What's been the biggest difference this year for you?
Boozer: Obviously health is a big thing, but I've also improved and I think I've gotten better from year to year. As long as you look at it like you always have something to improve on I'm going to continue to get better.
KOBE BRYANT, Los Angeles Lakers
Question: Do you think this city deserves an NBA team?
Bryant: From what I've seen so far the response has been incredible, people supporting the All Star Game. I don't see why not.
Question: How much more special is it for the players to have the All Star Game here this year?
Bryant: It's fun. It's fun. It's the first time it's ever been in a neutral city. So when you bring the All Star Game to a neutral site, the energy picks up. For us it's special to be a part of it.
Question: What do you like best about All Star Weekend?
Bryant: Just the interaction with the other players, a chance to catch up with them. During the summer we get a chance to cross paths and talk a little bit. It's always special to do it at the midpoint during the season.
Question: You guys are rivals during the regular season, how hard is it to get along during the All Star Weekend?
Bryant: We get along perfectly. We get along extremely well. We have a mutual respect for one another when we play. And because of that respect we compete extremely hard against each other. But outside of that we're all close.
Question: Talk about Phil Jackson being a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Bryant: It's more than deserving. He's the greatest coach of all time, in my opinion. Just look at his accomplishments and what he's been able to do and maximize the talent that he has on the team. And all the records that he set. It's actually a no brainer.
ALLEN IVERSON, Denver Nuggets
Q: I've never known you not to be able to play through an injury. How bad is your ankle hurt?
Iverson: It's better, actually. I just want to make sure I was ready for the stretch run. I think when I came back I came back too fast. I was too anxious just trying to get back to help my teammates and I set myself back a little bit. For right after the break, I think I'll be ready to go.
Q: Do you think you'll be back for Tuesday's game?
Iverson: Yeah, I think I'll be back Tuesday. I'm going to try to practice Monday and see how it goes. If it doesn't bother me as much, then I'll try to go on Tuesday.
Q: Is it too soon, with you having this injury, and Carmelo coming back recently, to know whether this team has what it needs to have a good stretch run?
Iverson: We can be good. Even without me in the lineup the team has been playing well and I think with me in the lineup we'll be better. We have a good team and I think once everybody gets a chance to be on the floor at the same time and practice with each other we can be better and better. I'm just happy about my situation and I'm just looking forward to finishing out the regular season.
Q: Do you look back at all and do you have any leftover feelings?
Iverson: No, I'm going forward. I just wish that organization well, especially my teammates, and I hope they can be successful. I just hope everything goes well for those guys, because I had relationships with them. I've been in the foxhole with those guys and I know how much they care about winning and trying to accomplish something. I know their struggles, I know their pains. I've been with them through ups and downs. I just want to see them do well.
YAO MING, Houston Rockets
Q: How disappointing is it not to be able to participate in the game because of your injury?
Ming: Yeah, but the reason I came here is because a lot of fans voted for me and I come here to appreciate them. But I'm more focused on the rest of the season and the playoffs. That's very important for us.
Q: How was your conditioning?
Ming: Horrible now, but I'm working on it.
Q: When do you think you'll be back?
Ming: I would say in about two weeks.
Q: How are you feeling now?
Ming: Of course I need to work on my conditioning, having missed eight weeks. I am totally out of shape. So I'm doing a lot of work to get my conditioning and strength back.
Q: What are you doing now?
Ming: Full workouts, but with no contact.
Q: When are you going to start with full contact?
Ming: That depends on the doctors.
Q: The fact that you received so many votes, is that really the most important part of making an All Star team, to know that you have the love of the fans?
Ming: An All Star team is about giving the fans the kind of team that they want to look at. I think that's what All Star means. So I'm very appreciative and very honored.
SHAWN MARION, Phoenix Suns
Q: Your mother is helping to build a house this weekend with Habitat For Humanity. Are you impressed with her carpentry skills?
Marion: She's talented. She's always been a hard worker. I guess that's where I get some of my working skills from. But she loves doing stuff like that and I do, too.
Q: Is there any pressure for you this weekend being a former UNLV star?
Marion: No, not at all. I think it's an honor and a privilege. I played my college ball here after I transferred, but to just come back and represent UNLV, I think I'm holding it down real strong for them.
STEVE NASH, Phoenix Suns
Question: Can you see Las Vegas eventually being an NBA city?
Nash: Yeah, I can see it happening. There is danger, but I think there's danger in every city, in every city, in everything. I see it happening and I don't see why being in Vegas has to rule that out. I think it's up to people to make the right decision.
Question: Do you think free agents would be excited to come here?
Nash: Outside of the Strip, I think Vegas is a vastly growing community and one that people really love living in. I think this would probably be a nice place to play.
Question: What are you trying to get out of this weekend?
Nash: Primarily I'm trying to rehab so that I can try to play (not many people try to rehab in Vegas) (laughter), but I'm going to try to see if I can practice on Monday. Other than that, I'm going to try to have some fun and do what everyone does in Vegas. I'm not a big gambler, and I'm not playing this weekend, but I'll try to give you guys as many quotes as I can.
Question: What qualities make a great point guard?
Nash: I think you really have to understand the game and have an intelligence on the court and a comfort in what you're doing. It's so important the intangible quality out there of making the right decision, of being able to read every act and understand your teammates and the situation of the game and kind of adapt to situations really naturally and easily. That's the big skill, understanding what your team needs and being able to read every act.
DIRK NOWITZKI, Dallas Mavericks
Question: Talk about being in Las Vegas and having the game here?
Nowitzki: I'm excited to be here. It's obviously a fun city. It's going to be a great weekend. Obviously it's always an honor to be an All Star. Bringing it to Las Vegas for the first time and being a part of it is going to be great. Hopefully we can put on a great show for the fans here.
Question: Being the defending Three Point Champ, do you think you're going to beat them again?
Nowitzki: Since we played last night I barely got any practice in, but hopefully I'll be able to find the rhythm. It's always important to find your rhythm in the first or second rack. Once I do that, I think I should be in pretty good shape.
Question: David Hasselhoff is starring here in The Producers, is there any chance you're going to get to see him in it?
Nowitzki: I don't think so (laughing), there are a lot of things going on. We're practicing tomorrow and the game is Sunday, so I don't think I'll have a lot of time.
TONY PARKER, San Antonio Spurs
Q: What's the most difficult thing for a young point guard in this league?
Parker: To earn the respect and the trust of your teammates and your coaching staff to make sure that you're going to make the right decisions every time. I think that's the toughest thing you have to get through, because for me, as my own experience that was my toughest task: To earn the trust of Timmy and David (Robinson) and Pop and be able to make good decisions and have the ball in my hands.
Q: Which young point guards do you think have the opportunity to move into that group that you're a part of now?
Parker: The two obvious ones right now are Chris Paul and Deron Williams. I think those two point guards are very, very good and they're going to be good for a long time. And I think they're going to be All Stars in the next couple of years.
Q: What do you think about a guy like Shawn Livingston?
Parker: He's good, he's talented, but I'd still take Deron Williams and Chris Paul over him.
Q: Is it a little easier to enjoy this weekend finishing up the first half with those two wins?
Parker: Definitely. It was a nice trip here because if we lost that game against Detroit it would be bad. But it was a great win, especially after that tough loss against Orlando, and then we played Miami, just a tough schedule. And to be able to come back and win a back to back, and, you know, with back to backs, we have a hard time every time. So it was a good win.