Bonzi Wells Interview
Sacramento Kings shooting guard Bonzi Wells spent most of his NBA career as a Portland Trail Blazer, before heading to Memphis and then becoming a King. Aside from injuries, he's had a great individual season. A few days ago, Sacramento traded Peja Stojakovic to the Indiana Pacers for Ron Artest. Right around the time it became official, InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner met with Wells for an exclusive interview.
InsideHoops.com: So the trade happened, you guys send Peja away and get Ron Artest. What's your reaction?
Bonzi Wells: It's a tough situation, because this is my first year on the team, so I got to know Peja. He's a great guy. But you got to understand the way the business is. You can't take it personal. But in return, we get a great player. We lose Peja but in return we get a great player who can score the ball but also defend the ball. I think it's going to work well for both sides. Jermaine O'Neal is my friend, and I think it's going to help him a whole lot, having a guy like Peja to stretch the defense. I think Ron's going to bring another dimension to our team. Another tough defender on the wing. A guy that can score inside and out. And hopefully help us turn this thing around and hopefully can help us get in the playoff hunt.
InsideHoops.com: How closely were you following the progression of all the trade stuff? The trade was on, off, on, back and forth.
Bonzi Wells: We had heard this stuff back when the whole stuff started with him and Indiana, that he (Artest) might get traded for Peja. We had heard the rumors, so we had a general idea. But when it happened... I like Peja, but it ain't like he got sent to a dog. Indiana's a great team, and I think it's going to be good for them. The way coach Carlisle coaches, Peja's going to be great for them, coming off of screens, stretching the defense. He isn't going to really have to worry about his man blowing by him no more because Jermaine's going to be there manning that rim. So, it's going to be good for Peja. But Artest's going to be good for us. Hopefully, all the stuff that went on in his life before he came, hopefully he can leave that behind and just start a new chapter. Sacramento gave me a second chance, so I know exactly what he's going to have to go through. You have to go out there and let the fance embrace you, and go ahead and embrace the system, and he should be fine. As long as you don't get to doing no stuff that's going to steer him off the straight and narrow, he'll be fine. But if he veers off to the left or the right, it becomes a problem. But hopefully it doesn't happen.
InsideHoops.com: Chances are it won't because it's not like stuff was happening every week or every month, but when it did happen, it happened in a big way. I assume it's on people's minds?
Bonzi Wells: Oh, that's the first thing you're going to think about. Because when they probably first got me, they were probably thinking, this guy's probably wild, because of the way they used to try to make stuff out on me, like I was a wild child. But if you ask any of the people in the organization now, when they got to know me they knew it was the total opposite of what they may had heard. So hopefully Ron can come to this team and have that same effect. And hopefully people can just judge him from what they see.
InsideHoops.com: As for Portland, and not you personally but the media and the team in general, it seemed like it was a love-hate thing, between the local media and the team.
Bonzi Wells: Aww man. But you know, they always just boosted stuff up more than it really was. They were just making it seem like we was the devils, some wild guys. Because your team media is supposed to be on your side. They ain't supposed to always trying to keep your down. They just tried to keep us down, because some guys may hate egos, some reporters may hate egos, or something. And they probably weren't feeling the way we were. We were our own persons out there. We loved the fans and everybody out there, but we understood it was us against the world. That's the way we felt, because sometimes we had thought that everybody wasn't for us in Portland, because of all the bad stuff they used to write about us. It was tough, but I think it made us stronger all along. And they ran us out of town. You see what happened as soon as they ran us out of town, they had a decline. Once they got me and Rasheed [Wallace] out of there, it's like, downhill. So I bet if they could do it over again they'd go ahead and just embrace our team and hopefully just let us continue to win 50-plus games like we did every year.
InsideHoops.com: And back to these days, now that you have Artest, how do you think it changes the outlook for the team and the future of this season?
Bonzi Wells: I know we're going to be definitely more defensive-minded. I try to pattern myself on trying to play some D on the wing, and I know when Ron gets out there, I know he's going to definitely bring a different element on the defensive end. A very aggressive element. So hopefully we can turn this thing around and start winning some games and get ourselves in the playoff hunt. But I don't think Ron's going to be a problem, and if he is, I'll definitely pull him to the side and try to get him on the right track. And I know my teammates will, too.
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