Darrell Armstrong interview
The New Jersey Nets finished the 2007-08 regular season with 34 wins and 48 losses, failing to make the NBA playoffs. Veteran point guard Darrell Armstrong, whose pro career began in 1994, played 11.0 minutes per game as a backup. While his stats are low, his leadership drive is high. InsideHoops.com contributor Randy Zellea recently met with Armstrong for an exclusive interview.
Q: You have been seen on the sidelines shouting instructions to players and showing leadership on and off the court. Are you thinking of following the same route that Avery Johnson took and become a coach?
Darrell Armstrong: Yes, that's my plan. Not just to be a coach, but a head coach. I think you have leaders in this game and some are learning how to be great leaders, both on the floor with the kind of game they play and making the transition into becoming a coach. You basically learn how to coach while playing in the game and get guys in place and where they have to be on the floor. With all that said, you have good top assistants, you have good assistants, and then you have assistants who can be moved into being a head coach and that's the job I want to take. I know what I want, I know what type of training camp, the offense and defense I want to run. I have a lot of different material with me and together and that's what a lot of coaches start doing. You take something from each coach you play under, and that's what I have done. Byron Scott has told me that. So I try to let it all soak it all in. I still love to play the game. Hopefully I can come out and play another year. That's what I am looking forward to right now.
Q: Out of all your coaches, who did you learn the most from?
Armstrong: All of my coaches. I have gained confidence from all of my coaches. I watch and I learn. I learn from just watching the coaches at practice and different situations because you want to know how to talk to and motivate and push guys. Then you have to learn there is a time not to push as well. It's a lot to learn and you have to lead by example on the floor, guys usually listen to me and they follow me. When I pick it up full court, they pick up full court. I can't do it like I used to it but I can still do it.
Q: Besides the situation with Jason Kidd, what was the toughest part of this season for the Nets?
Armstrong: The toughest thing has been being stagnant in games... we would be mentally tough and there were times where the toughness went out the window when the other team made a run back at it and we just would never get it back together. That's where our mind-frame would lose it; we would make a comeback and make a run or the other team would make it run and we would never get it back together. It might be one of the most disappointing things. That was happening when Jason was here... We just have to compete and find a way to make things happen. Whether it's with defense or going to the rim, or a good solid shot at the basket, we need to work together. We usually do that well in the first half, and usually at the end of the second quarter we usually let that fade away and let teams make runs. The team has to learn to take advantage of every situation and if we can do that we can grow as a team and once we do that we will be on top.
Q: There are a lot of young guys on this team. Do you think with a full training camp and everyone healthy, this team can be an elite team in the eastern conference?
Armstrong: Sure we can. You know without Jason, I have really seen Vince Carter step up as a leader, I have seen Richard Jefferson step as a leader. Those guys are going to try and step up and do their best with a young group of guys. You always have to lead by example, that's what they have been doing. We just haven't been tough and things started to break down. You know you learn and you live and this team can learn from all the mistakes we have made this year. They have a great opportunity a head of them because they have talent with a young Devin Harris, Marcus Williams as well. You had Josh Boone shine this year, and it's going to be a challenge -- can he come back and do it again? Every year is different. So everyone is working hard in the off-season and hopefully everyone can work hard and better their game.