We did this a couple of times last season, and I’m not surprised that I’m doing it again. Reggie Evans is turning into a quote-machine. Particularly when you get him focused on a topic and just let him go. Today, I hung around after his scrum to talk with him about helping Amir Johnson and on the change in Andrea Bargnani since the departure of Chris Bosh and the addition of some new pieces.
He spoke so long and so honestly, cutting these quotes just didn’t seem right. I think you’ll agree.
One thing I’ve been noticing during the games this preseason is how often it’s Evans and a point guard who is pulling someone aside to explain something to them, both on the floor and during timeouts. Last game, specifically, after Jarrett Jack had tried explaining something to Amir Johnson, Evans spent a timeout explaining, pointing, drawing out where he was supposed to be and why. So often we think of point guards as the floor leaders –as we should– but it’s not like a big man can’t also drop knowledge. Here’s what Evans had to say on the continued education of Amir Johnson:
You’ve gotta understand, Amir’s still young. If you don’t say nothing, that means you don’t care, that you don’t want to see a person have success. This is a team sport. If you see something that ain’t right or you see something that could make things better, address it. Amir he’s young, he’s still learning he’s got great potential. He works hard. You wanna just make sure everything is in the right place. That’s part of communicating on the court and communicating off the court, communicating during the whole game. We’re a young team. Right now we’re going to go through things that mess up, things that might not work. As long as we work hard, as long as we correct things, we can’t wait until later, we’ve gotta correct now if somebody do something wrong or if we see something where we can have an advantage. We may be like, ‘hey, you get him,’ ‘who do you want,’ or ‘I’m going to go over here,’ that’s just all a part good chemistry. That’s just great chemistry, great vibe. It’s real healthy. One thing about it, you see the respect there. Everybody will listen and vice versa. If somebody says something to me, it’s whatever, I’ve got to listen. It’s all good intentions.”
Continuing, Evans spoke about the keys for this team, this season:
“Communication on the court, communication off of the court. If something goes wrong, nip it in the bud right then and there. You can’t wait. We can’t relax. Never feel relaxed, never feel too comfortable. You’ve got to always feel uptight as if you’ve got something to prove and we do have something to prove. What we do have to prove is for us, is for the organization and for this city and really for this country. That’s the main thing. Never get too comfortable. No matter if we win 10 games in a row. We can’t get comfortable. We don’t have the type of players like that, we don’t have the type of team like that where we get comfortable and relaxed. We can’t get too high .We’ve got to stay in the middle, stay humble. Continue to work hard. It’s the little things that will stay on it.”
And then went on to talk about how the stricter, more intense version of Jay Triano is helping them with this:
“He’s [Triano] still the same person and stuff like that. Still the same coach, but as far as direction we’re going as far as how intense he wants it, it’s definitely a good direction .We just have to stick with it. I think it’ll work. It’s a good policy. I like it a lot, I’m going to be honest with you, I love it a lot compared to what we were doing last year. This year it’s a lot more aggressive. It’s more aggressive than anything. I like aggressive, I’m not a laid back type of defensive player. Offence is still pretty much the same, tweaked a couple little things, but the defensive end that’s totally changed and the direction we’re doing is good.
Then, the conversation got interesting. Another player we’ve all been writing, thinking and talking about throughout preseason is Andrea Bargnani. Prior to Sunday’s 121-100 victory against the Suns, Bargnani was shooting a horrific 16-for-64 from the floor throughout the preseason. While his game hasn’t looked pretty, he’s been talking, a lot, on the defensive end of the floor. I’ve noticed as much from my press row seat and wanted to ask Evans, known for his communication on the floor, if he had noticed it as well. I didn’t expect such strong statements from Evans on Bargnani, but it’s clear to see that he sees some of the same qualities in the seven-footer that the coaching staff does. Oh yeah, Evans also refers to Bargnani as “Dre”:
My biggest thing that I like about Dre is he’s more hands-on with the whole unit. Last year we were kind of like separated, not in a bad way at all, but now, for instance, we’re on the bus, Dre’s back there with us. He’s back there chilling with us and stuff. We communicate, we’re texting and stuff, so it’s like totally different. I even think Dre even senses a difference. He said some stuff on the bench not this game but the other game where we got beat and he said some stuff about something he didn’t like during the game which was good. He voiced it. We were like, ‘Yeah, you’re right, you’re right.’ Dre’s definitely growing. I can’t say he was shy or whatever, but I think he feels more comfortable with this team here and I think he is a lot more relaxed with what we have here. It’s really starting to show and he’s really starting to open up a lot. Me personally, I definitely see a major change in Dre.”
On what is responsible for the change:
“I think Dre just starting to feel comfortable with a lot of players and stuff. We make him feel comfortable and he makes us feel comfortable so, I don’t know what it is, but it’s good. Hell yeah, I’m cool with it. Me personally, I need him to voice his opinion. I said in the game, ‘Let’s go, get your stuff going,’ and then he went down and got more aggressive on the offensive end, started looking for his shot, being aggressive and then he was like, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’ It’s a whole totally different Dre. Not saying that last year he was bad or whatever, but you know, maybe because Chris was here. Maybe Chris overshadowed a lot of stuff and you know, I let him know, me personally, ‘You’re an All-Star.’
Evans continues to tell some of the hype he gives Bargnani, reminding him that he is the franchise player now and that he needs to start acting like it:
“Why you ain’t got your name on your shoes? You need to tell Nike to put your number on them or something, dawg.”
And finally, on the criticism Bargnani receives and whether it’s going to take some time before he gets used to being that franchise player and how he talks to him and reminds him of his talent:
“That’s all part of life. That’s all a part of the media being critical or not being critical. One thing you have to understand, media has a job to do. They’ve got to stay, the media’s got to stay hot. They’ve gotta bring a hot topic because if they don’t, they’ve got somebody to replace them. The media’s only doing their job that they’re supposed to do. The only thing he can do is use that at media. To me personally, ‘You’re an All-Star, dawg,’ that’s just what it is. Me personally, I can care less what media say or fans say, I know what I see every day in practice, in the locker room, on the bus, just whatever. I know what I see and I know what he brings to the table. Personally, he’s my franchise player. I’m happy to say it. He’s my All-Star player. I want him to make the All-Star. I need him to make the All-Star. That way I can sit back and watch a Raptor. That feels good. Every year I pretty much had an All-Star on my team, every single year but Philadelphia. I came back here and had Chris. It feels good and why not have the enjoyment of somebody representing your team and be like, hey, even thought he made the All-Star, to know, ,’Hey, I had some input on that,’ No matter if I made a pass, or he passed me the ball, we did a defensive assignment. We helped. We helped out for that individual to get into the All-Star, so it’d be feeling good.”
And finally, Evans on not dwelling on the past. Why doesn’t he dwell on the past? Because that’s moping and moping is what girls do. I’m not kidding. When I shook my head and him and said, “Oh, Reggie,” he compared player’s on the court moping to his daughter’s pouting when he says no. As a female, I’ll agree to disagree (while also acknowledging that sometimes we do pout, but so do men), while appreciating his candor as always:
It ain’t no thang. The past’s the past. That’s life. That’s business. you can’t dwell on spoiled milk. What’s gone is gone, you can’t bring it back. That’s business. Only girls sit around and mope. I’m speaking from a man’s perspective. Like if they come on the floor be moping and stuff, that’s what girls do. I’d look at them like a girl, doing what girls do, sitting around moping because of what happened yesterday, or last week that happened. Like my two girls, I have two girls, when I told them no, what they do? Put their heads down and mope. You know what I’m saying.
Do they get what they want, though?
It all depends… (laughs)
With the departure of Chris Bosh, I’m glad we’ve got Evans on this team because he’s always down to talk.