Archive for the ‘TBJ Q+A’ Category

It’s been a busy few months for Timberwolves rookie Derrick Williams. First was the draft, then on Wednesday, Under Armour announced that they had signed Williams, their second big signing from the 2011 draft class following the signing of Kemba Walker earlier this month. They’ve been busy too.

We spoke with the 6-foot-9 forward shortly after the deal was announced and despite having to make a whirlwind of phone calls and phone interviews, Williams was game to talk shoes, hoops and even the dreaded L-word.

When talking about the lockout, his otherwise upbeat tone changed immediately to one of disappointment as he explained the situation that draftees from this year’s class are facing and then gave his take on potentially losing a season:

“If they told me I was going to miss all 82 games next season I would have stayed in college and enjoyed myself and enjoyed all of my teammates and everybody else who is involved with Arizona. I definitely would have went back.”

Williams spoke about the thrill of signing with a company and of sharing the moment with his friends and family and then talked about what he’s most excited for next season, whenever that may be.

Despite the damper of the lockout, things are pretty good in his world. Here’s more with Derrick Williams.

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Special New York correspondent, David Weinfeld, can be found at PhD Octopus, a blog written by a group of PhD historians. When not writing or studying, he continues his quest to eat every animal in the world.

Are you at work today? The nine to five grind getting to you? Is old man Leland busting your hide just to get those TPS reports done on time? If that sounds like your life, well then former NBA star and sportscaster Bill Walton has a message for you: “Quit your job and chase your dream!”

I heard Walton repeat that mantra again and again yesterday, but it never got old. I was one of several bloggers who had the opportunity to live a dream themselves (admittedly a strange dream): drinking Guinness in an Irish sports bar in New York and talking hoops with Big Bill Walton.

The theme of the gathering was the coming March Madness NCAA basketball tournament, which according to Walton, by “perfect harmonic convergence,” would begin on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day.

Walton was in good spirits as he stooped underneath the low ceiling and plopped into a comfy chair and addressed his eager audience. He immediately got laughs when he informed the group that he was still “undefeated” in his bracket. While I drank a pint of Guinness, Walton limited himself to a cup of hot water, focusing instead on sharing the wisdom of the ages in anticipation of the big day.

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Yesterday, following the debut of the EA Sports version of the Nike Zoom KD III, I had a chance to talk to Thunder All-Star Kevin Durant in Santa Monica, CA. He talked about all the important things — playing basketball against rappers, shooting in the three-point contest and which actress should win an Oscar.

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Trey Kerby: We’re in California this weekend. So the big question is — Are you finally going to take on Lil B?

Kevin Durant: Lil B’s scared of me. (laughs)

TK: Yeah? I can’t imagine he’d want to step to you. Anyway, it’s your first time starting the All-Star Game. What does it mean to you to be voted in by the fans?

KD: It means a lot, man. It just means that as a player, people are starting to recognize how hard I work and what I do on the floor and also how I carry myself off the floor. It just means a lot. I really appreciate everybody voting for me. It’s a dream come true.

TK: There are a lot of guys playing in the game this year from this summer’s Team USA. Do you think playing together was big for all you guys’ growth? I mean, between you and Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love, you’re all playing excellent basketball this year. It’s pretty impressive.

KD: Once you put that team together, people kind of pushed us to the side. But now we’ve got four All-Stars that came from the 2010 World Championship team. So that says a lot. I’m very happy for all the guys that made it — Derrick Rose, Kevin Love, Russell.

TK: Lamar Odom’s had a great season.

KD: Yeah, we’re just playing good basketball. We’re all playing great. I think playing for USA basketball kind of pushed our confidence to the next level. Maybe upped our work ethic as well, just pushing us a little bit more.

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Stephen Jackson has been around the league for 11 years now. He’s won a ring with San Antonio, served a hefty suspension with Indiana, and ruffled some feathers in Golden State. He’s earned a colorful reputation — both good and bad, depending on who you ask — around the league. Former Spurs’ teammate Tim Duncan has called him the “ultimate teammate.” Larry Bird has said he is the toughest player in the league and many of his current Bobcats teammates would surely agree.

In the aftermath of a game-clinching steal against the Toronto Raptors, Jackson was thrilled with the win and allowed me to ask him a few non-game-related questions about his fellow NBAers. While answers one and two didn’t shock me, I wasn’t expecting the response I got for number three. Celtics’ fans, rejoice.

HM: Who is the best teammate you’ve ever had?

SJ: (without hesitation) “Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan because he is the same person every day. He comes to work every day and he wants to win. He has the same passion for the game that I have.”

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TBJ Q+A: Bill Walton

Earlier today I had a chance to talk on the phone with Hall of Fame big man and all-around awesome guy Bill Walton for about 10 minutes. We talked about Shaquille O’Neal, the Lakers and Celtics, the Heat, the importance of coaching and home court advantage in the NBA, dominating the paint, the beauty of Pau Gasol and most important, Bill’s work with Taco Bell and World Hunger Relief. Basically everything you could ever want to hear Bill Walton talk about.

The interview is below. It’s long, but it is so, so worth it. The man can talk.

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Bill Walton: Good morning, Trey! Bill Walton here. How are you, sir?

Trey Kerby: I’m doing good. How are you?

BW: Never better, thank you.

TK: I just have to let you know that my mom was very excited when I told her I’d be interviewing you. You’re the first person’s she’s recognized without me having to explain who you are.

BW: (laughs) I hope it’s for the right reasons.

TK: Oh, she’s very excited. I just wanted to start by talking a little about this coming season. You played on some legendary teams when you were still in the league, and one of those teams — the 1986 Celtics — you joined that team in a sixth man role after being a star your entire career. It’s very similar to the way that Shaquille O’Neal has joined the Celtics. How do you go about adjusting to that new role?

BW: There’s no adjustment at all in terms of what your personal goals are, with regards to helping the team win. You do whatever you can to figure it out, which is a basic mantra as we try to fight through all the challenges. As Shaq has proved through his career, he’s one of the more incredible forces in the history of basketball. Now, he finds himself in a fantastic situation, with great teammates, remarkable fans and a great history and legacy. It’s just going to be a perfect situation for Shaq. I couldn’t be happier for him. I think we’re going to see a huge contribution from Shaq this year, and he will make a major difference for this team and he will continue his huge presence on the financial level for the NBA and the Celtics. But also, he has the ability to inspire and to lead and to help other people’s dreams come true. That’s really what all life is ultimately about.

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