NBA.com Blog: Ben Gordon
Posted May 17 2007 9:25AM
Why My Shot Is Back
Posted by Ben Gordon on May 17, 2007, 9:17 a.m. ET
The first three games were really uncharacteristic of my abilities. I just wanted to come out and redeem myself, relax and play my game. When I’m able to do that, I think good things happen. The main thing why I shot much better in Game 5 was I eliminated the hesitation in my shot. They have some really long athletes, guys like Rip and Tayshaun, who can recover really quick so it caused me to hesitate sometimes when I was making decisions on the offensive end. On Tuesday night, there was no hesitation. Being able to get off to a good start and get a rhythm early really helped my shot and allowed coach to look to get me off a little bit more. It’s something I’ve struggled to do throughout the series and I just showed what I can do by having a good shooting night. I just need to continue to be aggressive whether my shots are falling or not and make plays for my teammates if I’m not making them myself.
P.J. & Tyrus -- Our X-FactorsThe playoffs are all about having x-factors. You know who your usual suspects are on each team, and it’s about who is going to step up. Which guys off the bench can come in and kind of shock people and put your team over the edge when maybe someone is struggling or when it’s a really tight game? In Game 5, P.J. played really well and the young boy, Tyrus Thomas, came off the bench and was doing everything – blocking shots, running the floor, catching lobs, putbacks. So we really need that energy and intensity from him. We need him to be the x-factor for us.
No More Pep TalksEarly on in the series, people were wondering if we needed to have another team meeting or if we needed more pep talks. But at that point, we were all pep talked out. It was time to show what we could do with our actions and stop talking. Actions do speak louder than words. I think a lot of people did count us out, but we’re still here, we have another game Thursday night we’re going to go out and try and just compete. Every game we win, we’re giving ourselves a chance to do something special.
Game 6 Key -- RelaxRight now we have a good mindset. Even when we were down 3-0, we felt like we had nothing to lose, so for the most part we’re up against history. The reason why we were confident was because we watched a lot of film and from watching the film we found that we weren’t playing anywhere close to our best basketball. That was the main reason why we were losing those games. We figured if we came out and just played our type of basketball, we would definitely have a chance to win. For Game 6, we’re going to go out there and relax, play hard with energy, and see what happens.
Pressure? What Pressure?The whole pressure thing is kind of like a hot potato – no one wants to hold it. The majority of the pressure is on the Pistons even though the series is still in their favor. They’re probably disappointed that they didn’t close us out yet. They had two chances to do it, but like Ben Wallace said after Game 5 when he was getting interviewed, the Pistons are a team he went to war with and those guys aren’t rattled. They’re still confident they can win again. I don’t think they’re shaken or rattled or whatever, but at the same time, they’re very disappointed that they didn’t put us away yet. But there is also pressure on us also now that we’ve gotten ourselves back in the series.
What We Need To Do To Force Game 7The main difference is Kirk Hinrich coming out and setting the tone. If you look in the beginning of the games we’ve won, he’s come out and put pressure on guys as far as pushing the ball up the court, hitting the open man and looking for his own shot. The key is Kirk getting us off to a good start and then me doing what I do. Using our youth and athleticism is a big part of our game. If we can continue to do that, along with playing well in the halfcourt where we’re running our sets and taking advantage of our quickness, then that will help us. Against a team like Detroit, you have to put pressure on them because they’re a very good halfcourt team and you want to disrupt their tempo as much as you can.
When we’ve had success, we’ve really been active defensively. We’ve been doing a better job of rebounding the basketball, which is something we struggled with in the first couple of games. That’s something we definitely addressed in practice and even during the game. Coach kept getting on us to get in there and get more boards. Detroit is a team that has more size than us, and it’s something you have to give up sometimes. If you put a small lineup out there, it’s tough for us guys to get in there and get those boards. We have to continue to use our quickness and get all those loose balls and long rebounds. And we’ve been getting some more of our ball movement back that we lacked. Guys weren’t getting their normal looks. We were kind of stagnant in our offense. The first couple of games, we allowed them to put us back on our heels and we didn’t have any counter for that. Now, we’re taking their punches and we’re able to have an answer for certain things they do out there. Throw in the fact that we’re going to have our crowd in Game 6 to rally us when we need them, and I like our chances.
Avoiding The Sweep
Posted by Ben Gordon on May 14, 2007, 6 p.m. ET
On Sunday we came out and guys were aggressive. I though Kirk and Luol got off to good starts. They really sparked us in the beginning and everyone kind of followed their lead. The difference between Sunday’s game and Game 3 was we were able to continue to be aggressive for the entire game, not just the first half, and we did a better job of handling some of the defenses they threw at us. If we want to be successful the rest of the series, we have to continue to do that.
It was important for us to not get swept. You don’t want to go into the summer ending your season that way and thinking about what you could have done to avoid it. Guys responded well. A lot of people were counting us out, so it shows a lot about the team.
Trying to Avoid Foul TroubleI didn’t shoot a very good percentage in Game 4, but I got to the free throw line. That is what you have to do sometimes when you’re struggling, you have to find other ways to score. I just have to continue to find ways to be effective to help my team and I have to stay out of foul trouble. The first three games, I was in foul trouble, but on Sunday, I only had one foul in the first half. That allowed me to stay in a lot longer and play my game a little bit more. Solid defense without picking up any cheap fouls is key.
Our State Of MindGuys are relaxed. We really have nothing to lose heading into Game 5. We just want to go out there and make sure we leave everything on the floor, make sure that at the end of the game, regardless of what happens, that we tried our best to stick to our plan and play our game. Guys find comfort in that. That’s something we did Sunday and it worked for us.
Game 3 Fall-OutAfter Game 3 much was being said in the media about the Bulls needing this and the Bulls needing that. The beat writers and media always ask those types of questions, like, “Would things be different if they had a low post scorer?” Well, we’ve had the same team all year, and pretty much for the last two seasons we haven’t had a low post scorer. The last one we had was Eddy Curry. I think we’re used to it. It definitely would help obviously, but it’s not an option, so we have to make use of what we have.
After winning Game 4, it would have been natural to wonder what might have been if we had held on to that 19 point lead in Game 3, then we could have evened up the series but personally I haven’t thought that way. Sure the series would have been a lot different, but right now it’s 3-1 and we have to go into their building and try to win another one.
Chauncey -- CraftyThose guys, Chauncey and Rip, they’re experienced. Chauncey is a seasoned vet. He is a lot smarter as far as his approach to the game, and as a pair, they’re All-Star players that can beat you in a lot of ways. Chauncey is real crafty. You never know what he is going to do. Sometimes it looks like he is just running the offense, but at any given moment he can try and take the game over offensively. We always have our hands full with those guys.
Expect To See More Chris WebberSome people might see it as shocking that Chris Webber has gone scoreless over the last two games, but personally, I don’t think he is the focal point of their offense. Those couple games he killed us, guys were caught off guard. He’s not typically one of their usual scoring suspects. I think the Pistons will probably try to get Webber going a little bit more knowing that when he has a great game, they have success.
Win Or Go Home For Game 5The Pistons are definitely looking to get this series over with as they were for Game 4. We have to continue to do what we did on Sunday which is be aggressive, attack those guys, and just try to stick to what was helping us win. Every time they step on the floor they are looking to win. The first two games, we really didn’t show up, so we can’t have that type of thing happen again. Like I said, we have nothing to lose. Time to leave it all on the court Tuesday night.
On To Detroit
Posted by Ben Gordon on May 2, 2007, 5:30 p.m. ET
Defeating the Heat – Nice But Not EnoughIt was a big accomplishment for us. The group of guys we’ve had here over the last few years, we’ve made it to the playoffs, but we’ve never been able to get out of the first round. So for us to win in the fashion that we did, sweeping the world champs, it was a big accomplishment for us. It showed a lot about our character and our maturation level over the last few seasons. I don’t think we would have been able to sweep a team like that the last few years. It shows that we made a lot of progress.
We worked really hard and it was just frustrating to not be able to get by that first opponent every year. This year our attitude is totally different. We know that we want to advance far into the playoffs. We want to try and win a championship. That’s why we’re really excited about the way we played against Miami. It really didn’t matter what opponent we faced in round one. Winning that round, that was something that we wanted to accomplish for ourselves.
The Miami Heat – A Class ActAfter the game they just wished us luck and congratulated us on the way we played. That showed a lot about them as far as their character and their being able to congratulate us during what I’m sure was a very disappointing time for them. I really respected that about the Miami Heat. Those guys are a class act.
Detroit Upcoming – Big Ben ReturnsIt is going to be a very tough series. The Detroit Pistons are one of the best executing teams in the NBA. We are going to have to be on our toes. And you know Ben playing against his old team is another game within itself. He hasn’t really talked about it much to us. It is just one of those things that goes without saying. Ben is going to be real hyped for this series. He said it in one of his postgame interviews that he couldn’t have drawn it up any better for him to be going against his old team. It kind of speaks for itself. I’m sure he is relishing this moment and this series more than any other one because he is playing against his old team. Both fives want to win, so it is going to be real interesting.
The Game Plan Against The PistonsThey are a team that can beat you in so many ways, so it’s really just sticking to our game plan. We have a lot of key things that if we want to win this series, we’ll have to get accomplished. Knowing that they are a great team, they are going to make adjustments. They have a very good halfcourt offense, kind of methodical in the way they run things, but they are very efficient. They are an underrated transition offense. They don’t run a lot, but when they do, they usually capitalize off that. For us, we have to keep our turnovers down and make them work for everything they do out there. You don’t want to give a team like Detroit easy baskets off turnovers.
Anyone Remember ‘The Jordan Rules?’The Pistons and Bulls rivalry has been one of the best rivalries in the NBA. MJ was always going up against the Pistons, and for a couple of years, he couldn’t get past them. I remember people telling me that he really started to hit the weights because the Pistons had no layup rules and stuff like that when they played Chicago. He would always be getting up off the ground. He really dedicated himself to the weight room and the Bulls started a thing called the “Breakfast Club” where he had his teammates working out with him in the summertime so those guys could be prepared for when they were in the playoffs the next season. It must have been a really intense rivalry for guys to go into the offseason thinking about how they have to be physically and mentally ready for the next time they played the Pistons.
Ben Gordon – Member of the British National Team?There has been some talk about Luol Deng having asked me about playing for the British National Team. Truthfully, I haven’t really talked to Luol about it since the summertime. It is something I would consider. I wouldn’t say yes or no right now, but it’s something I would have to look at and see what the best decision for me is. That said, if the U.S. were to ask me to play, I would have to consider that as well. However, I like having my summers off and being able to work on my game, so if I didn’t play for any of those teams, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Two Wins Down, Hopefully 14 To Go
Posted by Ben Gordon on April 25, 2007, 7:15 a.m. ET
International Impact: Deng-Nocioni-SefoloshaThrough the first two games of our series against Miami, but really throughout the whole season, the international guys – Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni, Thabo Sefolosha – have been the ones who have really lifted this team up. You look at Luol from the Sudan, Andres from Argentina, and Thabo from Switzerland, all of them have had key contributions at very critical times in the game that have put us over the hump. It hasn’t been your usual suspects. It is always good to have an x-factor in playoff basketball.
Luol has been having a great year, a breakout season. By no means is he a best kept secret anymore. He is an opportunistic scorer. That is what Pat Riley calls him and I thought that was a great way to describe him. He is just one of those guys who always finds a way to slither in there and get a layup or if a guy is too far off him, he has that great midrange shot. He runs the floor really well. You just never know how he is going to score and when. His game has been key to us playing so well in the first two games.
Andres is picking up right where he left off before getting hurt. He is coming in and shooting the trey ball for us, he is rebounding, and doing a good job defensively. He is something that we missed while he was out all that time. It’s great to have him back and he’s played well for us so far.
Thabo is a guy a lot of people don’t know a lot about because he hasn’t played a lot of minutes this year, but he is one of the most versatile players on the team. He is one of those guys who can play the one through the three. He can defend three or four positions. He just has a wealth of talent and I think throughout these playoffs he has shown just a fraction of the things he can do.
Up 2-0We’re heading down to Miami tomorrow afternoon. Guys are going to have to do the same things and be a lot sharper because we won’t have our home crowd behind us. Miami is down two, so they’re going to be playing extremely hard. We’ll have to try to be as sharp as possible and be ready for them. I think I have done a decent job of taking what the defense is giving me. I’m just trying to do more than one thing out there. I try to rebound, I try to get guys open shots, I try to be as aggressive as I can offensively, so it’s been paying off for me.
... With Work To DoSomething that stood out to me from Tuesday’s game was the fact that I didn’t shoot any free throws. I would like to see us as a team overall draw more fouls and get to the free throw line because you can’t expect to shoot that well (55%) every single night. Getting to the free throw line is a big part of putting points on the board.
Dwyane Wade - Healthy or Not?It is tough to tell because I know he just had the shoulder thing, but at the same time he still requires so much attention. I look at him as being maybe 90 or 95 percent. Guys like Thabo and Kirk have been doing a really good job on him, so I can’t really tell if he’s struggling with the shoulder. I haven’t really heard him say much about it, but he’s still very tough to guard and very tough to stop.
Eastern Conference Semifinals or BustDo we want to beat the Heat? Yes, of course but we really want to get out of the first round. We’ve been stuck here the first two years with the group of guys that have been together. It is big for us to do that. The last couple years we were known as the “Baby Bulls” and all that stuff, so just for the evolution of the team and the players, it would be a great sign if we can get out of the first round against the defending champs. They are on their home floor, so I’m assuming they’ll play a lot better there. Just the circumstances of the series, they’re going to come out and leave everything on the floor from start to finish. We just have to be ready. We can’t be surprised or taken back on our heels because they come out playing so hard.
The Postseason's Close
Posted by Ben Gordon on April 17, 2007, 11 p.m. ET
Playoff Time ... AlmostIt’s been a long season and I’m excited to get the playoffs started, but we have to take care of business with one more game left. I am definitely not overlooking the Nets. We have a chance to lock up the two seed and get our 50th win, which was a goal of ours early on in the year. Truthfully, I don’t really care who we play. Once you get into the playoffs, whoever you go up against, you have to be ready. The teams we have a possibility of facing, they’re all tough teams. I am just concerned with the way we play. If we play to our capabilities we can beat anybody.
Playoff Preparation vs. Regular Season PreparationPreparation during the playoffs definitely changes. You are keyed in on one opponent. You watch a little bit more film than you would in the regular season, try and get an idea of what they like to do and how you can stop it, and what to expect from the other team. The mental aspect of the game comes into play a lot more because guys aren’t going to allow you to do the things you’ve been doing all year. You have to come up with different ways to counter what they throw at you.
Our Playoff X-FactorI would say Tyrus Thomas more than anybody else from our team is our X-factor just because of the way he can impact our team in our system. He gives Big Ben a great amount of help as a weakside help defender and he finishes with the best of them in the league when he is on the offensive end. The more he can help us in the playoffs, the better off we’ll be.
Finals Bound?We definitely feel like we can reach The Finals. We have shown that we can beat tough teams, it’s just a matter of executing our game plan, being there for each other and playing to the best of our abilities. Some people might say that our lack of a low post scorer is going to really hurt us. Right now, we’re concerned about working with what we have and I think we have great perimeter players. We have big guys that can defend the post. The strength of our team is sharing the basketball, trying to get out in transition and get some easy baskets and rely on our perimeter.
The Knicks and Big MacsBy now most have you saw or read about our recent game against the Knicks where they accused us of running up the score. Truthfully, they were the first team I heard all year complain about the score. Last time I checked basketball was a competitive game, and if you have a chance to blow somebody out, you blow them out.
I really don’t have any sympathy for whatever they were talking about. At the end of the game, all of our starters were out and we had guys in there who don’t play as many minutes, so you can’t be mad at those guys for going hard. It’s a professional game. I don’t know why they were mad. I don’t think the Big Mac was the main reason. I just think guys were out there playing. Every time we came down court, no one was thinking, OK, we’re going to get the fans a Big Mac. That’s not how it goes. Guys are out there competing. When you’re on the court, you want to look good in front of coach because you know that might get you more minutes next game. I think the guys who were complaining on the Knicks were just sore losers.
NBA Draft Thoughts (Courtesy of the Knicks)Now that the regular season is almost over, there has been talk of us possibly getting a pretty good draft pick because of the trade the Knicks made to get Eddy Curry last year. I think the people in the front office are more concerned with that than we are. Us as players, we’re just going out there trying to do what we can control. That really hasn’t crossed my mind. In the offseason when people are talking about it, you’re forced to think about what it could be like if we land a great pick and swap with the Knicks. Until then, it’s not an important thing on my mind.
My MVP VoteI say Dirk all day because they have the best record in the NBA. He is the best player on that team. Without Dirk, I don’t think what they are doing now would even be possible. That is an easy one.
Showdown with Motown
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 29, 2007, 11:45 p.m. ET
Thursday night’s game against the Pistons is going to be a real good measuring stick for us just to see how we match up against them since the last time we played them at their place. That game we had a 16-point lead but we just couldn’t keep the lead and finish them off. I think we made something like three shots over a 10-minute stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter. Hopefully if we get in that position again, we’ll be able to have a different outcome. With them leading the pack right now, a win would be a great accomplishment for us. As always, we just need to come out and play with a lot of energy and compete from the opening tip.
They have guys that have been playing together for a long time now and as a result, their chemistry is great. Everybody pretty much plays their role to a tee and nobody ever deviates from that. They’re one of those teams who have a knack for taking the game over when they need to and always seem to be playing under control and poised. A lot of that is due to their point guard play with Chauncey. He really gets those guys going and makes them a really tough team to beat, especially come playoff time.
Chasing The No. 2 SeedI think the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference is still realistic with us only a game-and-a-half behind Cleveland. Obviously we have to win as many of these games as we can and we need some other teams to lose. It can definitely happen, but it’s going to take some good luck and some good basketball.
We can do a lot to help our cause when the Cavs come to Chicago on Saturday. We got them last time at their place which was a really big win for us because we hadn’t beaten them in a while at the Q. LeBron is playing his best basketball of the season, he’s making everybody over there better, and they’ll be coming in seeking some revenge. A win would not only get us closer to that two spot, but it would put that much more pressure on them knowing we’re right on their heels.
Both of these games, against Detroit and Cleveland, are going to be playoff-type games. We’ll be playing on our sold-out home court in front of our fans who you know are going to be jacked up. I can’t wait.
Final Four PicksFinally, if you’re looking for my thoughts on the Final Four, you’re going to have to go somewhere else because I am boycotting the whole thing. UCONN didn’t even make the tournament, so I’m a little bit salty about that. I can’t make it through a whole game, so I just watch the highlights. I guess you can say I’m bitter.
Some Things ... You Just Can't Explain
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 22, 2007, 6:10 p.m. ET
Denver Tonight at HomeIt’s a big game. You always have to come out and play with a lot of energy. There are a few things as far as our game plan that we’ll have to do. They like to get out and run on the break. Our transition D is going to be real important and obviously our man-to-man defense since they’ve got two of the best scorers in the game with Melo and AI. If we stay on those two things we should be fine. But that duo is dangerous any way you look at it. Even when they’ve been losing, they’ve been playing well together. AI got there halfway through the season, so I think it takes a little bit of time for them to get used to each other. They’ve been figuring out how to win lately, taking their last five in a row. I mean, just look at Indiana. They made that deal for Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy and they haven’t been able to put anything together. I don’t know why they’ve struggled so much. When we played them, they were fresh off the trade and they played pretty well and beat us. I really can’t explain their lack of success.
Our Loss to the ClipsThe team was just tired, plain and simple. It happens through the course of the season. Guys were out there playing hard, but at certain points in the game, it seemed like we couldn’t muster enough energy to get things done. Energy and effort is really important on a night to night basis and that night we lacked it and they took it to us.
A Look at the Home StretchAt this point in the season with 13 games left, we just want to win every game. When teams ahead of us lose, like Cleveland and Detroit did recently, we have to understand it’s even more important to get a win and capitalize on their losses. And the way Miami has been playing as of late and moving up in the standings, we need to be moving up too so they don’t catch us.
More Important Things – New ShoesRecently I got a new pair of anaconda Air Force Ones, made in Italy from real anacondas, you know, the snakes. They retail at like $2,000. All white. I guess they must have dyed the skin. They’re mean and vicious. These are low top, regular walking sneakers. I don’t wear them to the game or play in them. They’re an extremely limited, exclusive edition that Nike put out. At that price, they’re for people that really, really love to collect shoes. Since I’m a Nike guy, they know what I like, so they sent me a pair. That’s how it usually works. Or if I find out about a product first, I’ll ask them about it. But I haven’t worn the anacondas yet. I usually like to put them away until I find the right moment to bring them out. You don’t want to be introducing an exclusive pair like these just to go to the corner store. You have to do it right.
The Bond Between a Man and His ShoesI keep track of all the shoes I own in my head. There have been times where I thought I was missing a pair, and people will tell me that I’m crazy, that I’m not missing anything. But I know. Sooner or later, a box will turn up somewhere and they’ll be like, Damn, how did you know that? One pair missing out of all the sneakers I have might not seem like a big deal, but I just have this connection with my shoes. They’re part of my soul (no pun intended).
Good Times All Around
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 15, 2007, 4:41 p.m. ET
We’re on a nice little roll right now at 39-28 having won our last four. This is actually the most games over .500 that we’ve been all season, which is what you want as a team when you are getting closer to the playoffs. Our schedule over the next couple of games is favorable – we play Memphis, the Clippers, Denver, Indiana and Portland – so we really want to capitalize on this and make sure that we don’t drop games that we feel we should win.
Tough Times in Memphis, L.A. and DenverMemphis is a team that has been struggling all year and they’re actually one of the teams people were mentioning that I could be traded to. They’ve got talent, but they’re young and it has shown in their record. We’re not underestimating them, but that is a game we definitely think we should go in and get. The other teams like the Clippers and the Nuggets, they are two teams that have beaten us already. Even though they are different teams from when we saw them last, we still have a bit of payback on our minds.
The Clippers, in particular, have really struggled after making the playoffs last year. Right now they wouldn’t be in action if the playoffs started today. I know sometimes when you have a really good year like they did last year, the next year, teams are expecting you to be good and they’re a little better prepared for you. I remember my rookie season, we came out and we shocked a lot of people and we ended up playing really well that year, pushing the Wizards to six tough games in the playoffs. Then the next year, people knew we were a good team so they were ready for us and we didn’t do as well. Sometimes it’s just hard to come out and shock people because they know what you’re capable of. That would be my explanation for L.A. this year.
Denver is a team that has surprised me a little bit. When they made the trade for A.I., they were really desperate for someone to come in and keep the team going without Carmelo there. I thought it was a great idea at the beginning to get those two together, and I still think it can work, but maybe they still need more time to gel. If you look at their individual numbers, it seems like they’ve been playing well together, but they’re obviously struggling in other areas of the game.
The King Has ReturnedI think we can put to rest that talk of LeBron James struggling. The Cavs have been playing great lately and LeBron is doing what everyone expects him to do. I couldn’t understand how LeBron had been taking criticism all year because he was still putting up great numbers. Maybe his points were down a few, but he was just trying to get his teammates involved and do what it took to win this season as opposed to going after stats. Now he is starting to pick it up going into the playoffs. You can’t ask any more from a guy than to be playing his best basketball at this time of the year. Last year they surprised some people. This season, they’re even better.
Dirk + Nash = ClassicUnfortunately I didn’t get a chance to catch that crazy Phoenix-Dallas game last night, but I saw that it went two overtimes. Anytime you have Nash and Dirk going at it, it is going to be good. Those are two of the top MVP candidates right there. If I had to choose one right now, I would have to go with Dirk just because of the dominance Dallas has had in the NBA this season. I don’t think any of it would be possible without Dirk. You can say that about Steve and the Suns too since he is pretty much the sparkplug for that whole offense, but I would still go with Dirk.
Toe-to-Toe with Michael Redd
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 6, 2007, 1 p.m. ET
That game the other night against Milwaukee was one of those games that you can’t help but enjoy. When your opponent is going shot-for-shot with you like Michael Redd was, it is just fun out there on the court. Forty-eight points wasn’t just my NBA career high, it was my basketball career high. I had never scored that many points in a game -- ever. But I wasn’t just shooting to shoot. We needed every single one of those points and the most important thing was that we got the win at the end of the night. It was an important game for us. We’re in the five spot right now, but we’re only a game behind Cleveland for the No. 2 seed in the conference and have a chance to put ourselves in a great position. Right now I feel I’ve got a good flow going, but, at this time of the year, I basically need to be playing well all the time.
Let the Coaches WorryWhen it comes to thinking about the playoffs and our positioning, the coaches think about it more than us. Really the only thing we can do as players is focus on what we can control, which is our playing and the energy we bring every night. As a team we’ll speak about where we stand in our conference and our division every few games, but it’s not a main focus for us. We just focus on what we can control – our playing and our energy – and that’s what we bring every night. As a team, we’ll speak about it every few games just to keep it in the back of our minds.
Back-to-Back: Magic and HeatWe’ve still got three games left on this road trip with Miami our next stop. Everyone always likes to say that Shaq is slowing down, but the 31 and 15 he put on the Pistons the other night showed that he is still arguably the most dominant player in the game when he wants to be and with D-Wade rehabbing to get back in the lineup, it seems like Shaq has that in his mind. And don’t be fooled, the Heat are still a really tough team. I wouldn’t count them out of the playoffs or anything. They’re still the defending champs.
Then if Big Ben didn’t have his hands full with Shaq, he’ll have to try and keep Dwight Howard in check on Thursday when we play the Magic. Dwight is really something, man. He’s one of those guys who wants to be a great player. Actually I heard him say he wants to be the best player ever. Whenever you have a young guy like that who wants to put the work in, wants to learn, and has the talent and physical abilities that he has, the sky is the limit. Hard to believe he just turned 21.
There's No Place Like HomeWhen we’re on the road, I am pretty boring. I basically just stay in my room and watch the games of whoever is playing that night. I really don’t like to do too much except get my rest, get ready for the game and stay focused. If you’re a person that likes to party, it’s definitely there for you if you want it, but that hasn’t ever been my thing even though we do go to a lot of nice cities. Miami and Los Angeles are my favorites, but I love when we head to New York since it’s my hometown.
Tough Luck for UConnFinally with March Madness coming up, I had to talk about my UConn Huskies even though we haven’t been playing too well this year. It’s OK, though; we’ve got a really young team that’s rebuilding. I know Coach Calhoun will have the team back where they need to be in the near future.
The Sneaker Game
Posted by Ben Gordon on March, 3 2007, 1 p.m. ET
I shouldn’t really say that I am sneaker collector because I eventually wear most of mine, but I like sneakers a lot. I probably have about 300 to 400 pairs, all Nike though. That is the only thing I wear since I am a Nike athlete. I have all types of unique Nike kicks.
How They Do ItWhen I signed with Nike, I got to go to the official offices in Beavertown, Oregon. They took me around the campus and I got to talk to some of the designers and everything. I asked them how they come up with some of their ideas and concepts. Obviously they get them from a lot of different things. Sometimes it might be an old TV show or a favorite character, other times it could be a unique picture from a magazine. Then they bring those ideas to life by designing a shoe to fit those visions. At the time I think they showed me LeBron’s shoe. Overall, it was a real cool experience. I haven’t been back since, though, because whenever we are in Portland, I usually don’t have time to get over there. Maybe sometime in the summer.
If You Feel Good, You Play GoodI usually try and put on a new pair of sneakers at least every other game. It is important for me that my feet feel good. Usually I am cutting and making sharp turns, so I need something that is going to give me some stability and comfort. Nike has a custom shoe for me that I wear. They’ll send out maybe two or three dozen at a time and I’ll just give them a call when my supply is getting a little low. Then they’ll send another couple boxes. It is pretty easy. They know how often guys need shoes, so they do a good job of supplying everyone with sneakers on time.
Where They GoAfter I wear a pair, I usually just put them in my garage and save them. I’ll have people come to me that need a few pairs for charity or an auction. The Bulls have their Char-it-a-Bulls, which I give some to. I put some on my website. So I always hold onto my sneakers.
My Top 5In no particular order, my top five Nike designs:
1) Air Force Ones – Number one on the list right there, but they have to be white on white. You can wear those with any outfit, man. You can wear them with a tuxedo. You can wear them to your wedding. Where I come from, you can only wear them one time. I know it’s a little silly, but being that the shoe is completely white, it doesn’t look the same when you wear them multiple times because they pick up a lot of dirt. You always want to have them looking really nice and fresh.
2) The Penny Hardaways – They were a foam posite shoe, all royal blue with the clear bubble gum sole and no Nike check on the side. That was one of the illest shoes I have ever collected. They recently came back out, so I got another pair.
3) The very first pair of Air Jordans – They were all red and black. When he came out with those, he would get fined every game that he wore them because they went against the uniform rules. That was a classic shoe.
4) The Air Max 95s – Another classic
5) Air Force 25s – Of course I had to plug the shoe I am wearing now. It’s a real comfortable shoe.
Bottom line, I take pride in a nice sneaker.
Tough Break For D-Wade And The HeatI saw a couple of the replays of his injury and I felt bad for him. You never want to see a fellow player get injured because it is something we all fear. It’s just an unfortunate situation, but at the same time, I don’t think it is career-ending, so that is a positive. I think he should just take care of it. If surgery is the best step long term, then have the surgery. Especially for someone that is as talented as him who has already won a championship, there is not much more he can do right now. If it was me, I would take the most precautionary measure to make sure that I could come back and that it wouldn’t happen again. This is the time of the year when the Heat usually make their run. They started off a little slow last year and then they made a surge into the playoffs. Without Dwyane, I’m not sure they can do that. Obviously he is the main person who helped start that thrust. Without him, it is going to be difficult to do that again.
Our Season-Ending GoalWe feel good. I’ve been saying it all season, but we want to hit our stride and get on a winning streak, maybe run off double digit wins. We still have our eye on winning 50 games. That means we would have to go 17-5 the rest of the season, but we think it is an attainable goal. The key is putting together some streaks.
Trading Deadline Looming
Posted by Ben Gordon on February 21, 2007, 10:15 p.m. ET
We’re getting close to that 3 p.m. deadline on Thursday and I don’t really know what is going to happen. Guys here with the Bulls aren’t dwelling on it too much. So far, nothing has happened yet. I’m thinking that I’ll be staying put since nobody has said anything to me yet. Until I hear something, I have no reason to think that I’ll be involved, at least I hope not. But it really hasn’t deterred my focus. Anytime I hear something about the trade deadline, I try to focus more on the game. So it has actually helped me focus a little bit more, enjoy my teammates and go out there and have fun. When it passes it will be as if there never were any rumors. I wouldn’t mind, though, adding a consistent low post scorer. That is the only thing we’re really missing.
All-Star WeekendThis wasn’t my first time participating in All-Star festivities since I had been part of the Rookie/Sophomore game in both 2005 and 2006, but this time was probably my best All-Star experience. It was a lot of fun. I got know some of the players a little bit better while enjoying all the different competitions and then the game on Sunday.
Shooting Stars CompetitionWe had a chance to win, but my trigger finger was itching a little bit and I shot a little too early. It looked like both mine and Candice’s basketball hit the rim at the exact same time. Once it left my hand, I knew I had shot out of turn, but then when both of the basketballs hit the rim, we couldn’t tell whose went in or not. So we kept going on to the next spot. Then we looked at the tape and saw that mine went in before Candice’s. It was disappointing, but at the same time we had a lot of fun still. It was real cool playing with Scottie Pippen. He’s a top 50 guy and to see him out there and being part of a competition with him, that is something I’ll remember for a long time. Candice is a real nice girl too. Hopefully when their season starts I’ll be able to go and root them on a little bit.
Slam Dunk ContestI think Tyrus was a little nervous. It was his first competition. Hopefully he can get invited back and have a better outing. Gerald Green had some really nice dunks. I thought he was out there with a lot of energy. He and Paul Pierce were probably the most charismatic of the group. They were out there entertaining people a little bit after each of their dunks, so I thought it was a nice dunk contest win for them.
Meeting With Some LegendsI was able to attend the Legends Brunch which was a great experience for me. I think I might have been the only active player there. I just wanted to go and pay my respects to all those guys that paved the way for us and meet a few of them individually. I got to take some pictures. Actually I took pictures with so many guys that I can’t remember all of them. Of course I got a few with Dr. J and George Gervin. I enjoyed it a lot.
Post All-Star GoalsWe got back to business on Tuesday night by beating Atlanta. Our goal for the rest of the way is to be able to bring it every night. We don’t want to have any lapses during any of our last 27 games. We have a tough schedule coming up this week with two back-to-backs and four games in five nights. It is going to be very important just finding a way to win every night. When guys’ shots aren’t falling we have to be able to do the rest on the defensive end to make it up. That is our main focus right now, especially with a game against Detroit over this next stretch.
Motown On The HorizonIt will be tough. I’m not going to lie. They are playing their best basketball right now. If we want to catch them, we have to get on a really good winning streak, especially when we see them. We have to develop a winning streak starting now.
West Coast Trip
Posted by Ben Gordon on February 1, 2007, 1:15 p.m. ET
We're one game down with six more to go on this road trip, and we had hoped to get off to a little better start last night in L.A. We were in a position to win against the Clippers and had a nice comeback after being down 16. We tied it up, but we made too many mistakes and couldn't hit our shots when we needed them the most. You're going to have nights like that; you just have to fight through. We missed out on a lot of opportunities, and I had some terrible turnovers down the stretch that really hurt us. But we'll be ready to play on Friday in Seattle.
Right now, all we can do is to stick to our game plan on this trip. We don't want to make some of the same mistakes we made earlier in the year, when we went out west and clearly did not play our best basketball. We want to focus on being sharp and playing hard. If we can do those things, I think we'll do well on this trip.
We want to come home and say this was a successful road trip. Coach Skiles always tells us to put more weight into how we play rather than the result of the game. In essence, I think it will be a successful trip if we can go out and be as flawless as we can be and play our style of basketball. If we can be tough on defense, rebound the ball and share the ball, that's Bulls basketball and we'll win our share of games. Even if we don't win as many games as we'd like, we'll have nothing to hang our heads about if we play the style we need to play.
Shaking Off RustBefore Wednesday night, we hadn't played since the Miami game in Chicago on Saturday. We had a couple really good practices where we were able to get ready and prepared for the road trip. More than anything, Coach Skiles has instilled in us the importance of being sharp night in and night out and getting the job done on the road. We've had a lot of success at home this season, and we want to bring that same kind of energy and effort on the road with us. That's been our Achilles heel this year, getting wins away from home. Improving on that is a focus for us right now.
This time of year, our work primarily revolves around what we need to improve on. We cut all the fat out of the practices that we had earlier in the season, and we concentrate on what is really necessary to get better. There is more of a focus now on ways to get sharper on offensive execution, tightening up on defense, and things of that nature. At this point in the year, whatever we do, we do it at full speed and we go at it hard. Practices might not always be as long, but they are as intense as they can be.
West Is the BestEveryone knows that the Western Conference has better teams than the East from top to bottom. But at the same time, I think that the top-notch teams from the East can definitely compete on any given night with the best teams in the West. That's something we want to prove on this trip when we go against some of these teams. We need to show we belong with the NBA's elite, and we've done that so far at home this season. On the road, though, is a different story, which again is why we want to have a good showing these next two weeks. Our wins over Dallas and San Antonio in January tell us we can beat those kinds of teams if we play our style of basketball. That is something that can go a long way for us when we are on trips like this. Whether or not we're going to compete is not the question; it's more about us coming in with a mindset that we can win a lot of these games.
All-Star Call? Hope SoFor me, I feel like I'm playing the best basketball of my career right now. I've grown as a player and I've become more mature. The game hasn't become any easier, but I've become more experienced and that's a big thing in this league. I've got a better feel for what to do out on the court, and that helps in how I play and how I can help my team win. They announce the All-Star reserves tonight on TNT, and I really hope I get the call. We're one of the best teams in the East, so it would be nice for a few guys on the team to make it. We'll see what happens, but it would be a huge thrill to make the team. I'll actually be in Vegas that weekend either way since I'm one of the player reps for the Bulls. The NBA Players Association hosts meetings so I'll attend those… but hopefully I'll be on the court, too.
Addressing the Trade Rumors
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 25, 2007, 5:15 p.m. ET
Mavs Visit Chi TonightMatching up against the best team in the NBA is never easy. This is going to be a really good measuring stick for us. They have arguably three All-Stars on their team with Dirk, Josh Howard and Jason Terry. But we showed we can play with the best teams in the Western Conference when we beat San Antonio last week. That's our goal again tonight, to play a big-time game against a big-time team.
Dirk: the Match-Up NightmareDirk is basically a seven-foot guard, which poses a bunch of different threats and match-up problems for teams on a nightly basis. See him play point against the Magic on Tuesday? What did he have, something like seven assists ---in the first half?! Crazy. Dirk and the Mavs are on a mission this season after getting to the Finals last year and coming so close before losing to Miami. That's probably the biggest factor in why they've been so tough to stop this season – they're driven and they have a purpose. I would too if I had come that close to a title and missed.
Me and the Pau Gasol Trade RumorsTrade rumors are something that I have been exposed to over the last couple of seasons since I've been in Chicago, so it's nothing new to me. It's tough, but you just have to focus on the game and the situation that you're in right now. It doesn't make any sense to worry about things I can't control, like the trade rumors with me and Pau Gasol. I can only control what I do out there on the basketball court. That is the easiest way of me handling it. Right now, my main concern is Dallas and that's tonight. I'm not thinking about the rumors. Everybody is definitely cognizant of them, but it's counterproductive for us to focus on them. As a team, we try to avoid talking about all the speculation. I would definitely like to stay in Chicago. I've been here and been a part of the rebuilding process. If we can continue to develop the young players and the nucleus we have and add a piece each season to get better, we can win a championship. That is my main goal while I'm on this team, which I hope is for many more years.
Pau Would Help the BullsWould I like Pau on the team? Of course. He's a guy who can score consistently night-in and night-out in the low post and that is something that we're missing. Yet he does a lot more than score. He can rebound and would serve as a nice complement to Big Ben who can really defend and rebound. I know having Pau on the team would make the game a lot easier for me too. As someone who demands a double team, Pau would give me a lot more open looks. Guys wouldn't be able to focus on me as much.
Let's Make a Deal
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 19 2007, 5:15 p.m. ET
Taking a look at the Western Conference standings and seeing teams like Phoenix and Dallas with single digit losses, it really makes me think even more how the East is up for grabs, a thought that I think a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference are thinking. That's why I think Milwaukee, Detroit and Indiana all made moves recently – they all think they can make a push and get in the playoffs. There just isn't one dominant team.
Bulls -- Staying PutWe're still one of the better teams in the East. All teams are always looking to get better if they can, so I'm sure if an opportunity presented itself, our front office would do what they have to do. Although I think we have enough pieces, another great player wouldn't hurt. We're focused on catching Cleveland right now, but anything can happen. Here's my take on the moves our Central Division rivals made.
Pistons-- C-Webb Goes HomeI don't know if he is going to make much of a difference for that team. I don't seem him replacing the things done by Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess or even Nazr Mohammed, so it will be interesting to see how they fit him into that lineup, especially now with Chauncey back after missing the last nine games. But the guy has been 20 and 10 for his whole career, so if he has anything left, they could be tough.
Pacers -- Bold Moves by IndyI wasn't really surprised by the move. Indiana has been having a lot of problems and turmoil over the last few years. Both teams benefited, but I definitely think Indiana got better. They added some more solid guys on the front line to help out Jermaine O'Neal. They got a guy who can do the point forward thing in Mike Dunleavy. By trading away Sarunas Jasikevicius, they really don't have a back up point guard, so Jamaal Tinsley will have the ball in his hands even more. He is one of the better guys in the league at setting people up for easy baskets, which will make them a more dynamic team.
Bucks -- A Healthy Body in Milwaukee … For NowI have never seen anything like what has happened in Milwaukee with three of the team's best players – Michael Redd, Mo Williams and Charlie Villanueva – injured in the same time frame. It is a real unusual situation there. Earl Boykins is really going to help them and when all those guys get back and get healthy, they'll be a very good team. I'm glad we already played them three times, but the next time we play them, they'll be back to full strength.
Playing the Contenders
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 17 2007, 6 p.m. ET
There are a handful of games left this month where we'll go up against the best teams in the league. It's our chance to prove we can play with those elite teams, whether they are in the Eastern or Western Conference. Beating San Antonio on Monday only helped boost our confidence. We were a few guys short, but we still came out and executed and got the job done against one of the top teams in the NBA. There's a good chance that they'll make another run to the Finals this year, and that's something we want to compete for as well. So it's important to play well against the top-tier teams in the league, especially at home. We want to bring our best effort when contenders like Utah, Dallas and Miami are at the UC later this month. One of our goals this season was to play well at home, and so far we've done that.
Over the last few weeks, we haven't always done a good job of closing out tight games. That is what it has come down to more often than not. We had been starting off games pretty well for the most part, but then in the fourth quarter we couldn't hold on to leads. We need to make sure we are sharp late in the game when it's close to get those wins.
One thing I know is that this group is going to stick together and bounce back from the adversity that we face. Whether it's a losing streak or playing without guys due to injury, we're going to go out and battle every night. That's what this team is about—we aren't going to give up on each other and we'll always work to bounce back from a loss or any kind of downfall that we encounter.
There's been a lot of talk about my role this season: starting at first, then coming off the bench, and back into a starting role the last few games. People make a big deal out of it, but it's easy for me to handle. I've been through similar situations in the past, so I'm accustomed to it. Whatever I'm doing, I just want an opportunity to be on the court and help our team win games. That's my focus. Stats show that I've had more success coming off the bench, but that's because I've played more games with that role. If I become a consistent starter, I'm confident that I will succeed in that role as well.
Don't Forget to VoteThere's only a few more days left in All-Star voting, and the guys on this team that would definitely get my vote are Ben Wallace and Luol Deng. I think Luol has easily proven to be one of the best forwards in the East. He's a completely different player than he was last year and he's improved in just about every aspect of the game.
Big Ben does what he does. There aren't many players in the league that can compare to what he brings to the court defensively and on the rebounding side of things. To me, he's a shoe-in. I'd love to be an All-Star, but it's not necessarily a goal because I can't control it. It would be a huge honor, though, and I think it's something that just about every NBA player aspires to achieve. I feel like the numbers I've put up make me a candidate, too. We'll see what happens.
History Repeats Itself
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 13 2007, 7 a.m. ET
Two games against the Nets in the past week and two losses for us. Thursday night's game was tough blowing an 18-point lead at home. It was especially frustrating because we had them on the ropes and we just couldn't capitalize off our lead. It's very discouraging. I have to give the Nets credit, but a lot of it is on us. We're having a tough time making adjustments during the game. Sometimes you have to break off away from the game plan and be unpredictable. We haven't been able to do that and it's been hurting us.
A Lack of Fourth Quarter MagicFor whatever reason we haven't been able to close games out. In the past that had been a strength of ours. When we are playing our best we are able to win close games with defense and the little things we do as a team. Why we haven't been doing those things? That is something we're still trying to figure out. If we don't find a solution soon, we're not going to reach the expectations and goals that we have set for ourselves. Maybe we need to be watching more film. Individually and as a team we can definitely get better.
A Look Back…Up to this point we've been up and down. So far we've had winning streaks of five and seven games as well as a six-game losing streak. Right now we're 20-17 which isn't the worst thing in the world, but the way we've been playing as of late gives the impression that we're on a downward slope. We just have to recognize that and see how we can counter this to change it for the better. We don't want it to turn into a snowball effect.
Then A Look Ahead…The fact that Memphis is coming to town on Saturday is one of the best things about the NBA. There are so many games that you get a chance to correct the things you didn't do well in the last game and go out there and redeem yourself. So hopefully we can get our act together and get another win. Then on Martin Luther King Day, San Antonio will provide us with an early season barometer of where we really are as a team. We've seemed to have done a good job against some of the best having beaten the Lakers, the Pistons and the Heat so far. And we played Phoenix very tough last week. The Spurs are definitely in that class and we'll get to see how we stack up come Monday.
Gilbert Arenas - The Master of Motivation
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 10 2007, 7 p.m. ET
Gilbert Arenas has been playing incredible over the last month which is going to make tonight's game in D.C. that much more fun. It's a tough game whenever we play against the Wizards. They know what we like to do and vice versa. Every time we play it comes down to who has the most energy that night.
The Wizards were the first team that I faced in the playoffs. Gil made some big plays for them in that series, but he is playing at an even higher level now. He is one of those guys who just loves the game. He is a gym rat who wants to get better every season. Becoming a better player is something that he has taken upon himself and it has shown throughout the season. Forty-point games, fifty-point games, sixty-point games, he has done it all this year. He's just been on a rampage lately. Gilbert is the kinds of guy that never forgets about anything negative that happened in his life. He feels like he is the underdog. Proving himself every night is the only way for him to react to all those that said he couldn't do something. Take the situation with the U.S. team over the summer or his not being picked in the first round of the draft. He turns things like that around and uses them to help him play well.
No ConscienceOne thing that makes him so hard to stop is that he doesn't have a conscience. For the way that he plays, that is a great quality to have. He can score the ball so well that if he comes out and misses his first five shots, he still won't hesitate to keep shooting. He is going to continue to be very aggressive and take what the defense gives him. It is tough to stop him because he is relentless on the offensive end. He puts so much pressure on the defense at all times. He has been playing like an MVP of the league and it's tough to say anyone else is playing better right now.
The UConn Connection, D.C. StylePlaying in Washington means being able to catch up with Caron Butler, my former teammate at UCONN. We don't keep in touch too much during the season, but every time we see each other, it is like we were just together yesterday. Anytime I see him we sit down and talk a lot and make sure everything is going well with each other. Right now Caron is right up there at the top of the list of forwards in the East. He is another guy that pops up in my mind as someone who should play in the All-Star Game. He has been playing really well. It is tough sometimes when you are playing so well next to a guy like Gilbert who handles so much of the load offensively. Caron has really been a great supporting player.
How About Some All-Star Love for Luol?Is he playing well enough to be an All-Star? Of course. The only problem is that the East is so tough for individual players. There are so many guys that can make it, but Luol Deng is definitely one of the best scorers in the conference. One of the big differences that I have seen this year from him is that he is playing a lot smarter. Since he doesn't shoot threes, he has made a conscious effort to improve his midrange game. He is really focusing on the shots that he can make and he's knocking them down. If you give him an open look, it's pretty much in the basket.
All-Star Would Be Nice, But…Making the All-Star Team is definitely one of my top goals to achieve while I am playing in the NBA. I don't know when it's going to happen, but I'm going to continue to work hard. More importantly, though, is helping the Bulls win, especially after our loss the other night against Houston. Washington sounds like a good place to start a new streak.
Getting Into the Game
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 5 2007, 5:30 p.m. ET
What's up, NBA fans around the world. This is Ben Gordon of the Chicago Bulls and I'll be checking in with you, sharing insights throughout the remainder of the season as we find ourselves fast, fast approaching the NBA All-Star break.
High Expectations, Rough StartBefore the season started, a lot of people were envisioning big things for us as a team and we were certainly expecting a lot from ourselves. Starting off 3-9 wasn't exactly what we had in mind. Fortunately, we had a good, long home stretch at the United Center in December to help get us back on track. At the beginning of the year we made an emphasis of protecting our homecourt, and last month we certainly did that, winning 12 of 13 at the UC. We played with a lot more confidence and energy that month and ended up winning 14 of the 17 games. Now, at 19-13, and a game out of the Central Division lead, we're back in the hunt.
Missed Opportunity vs. SunsThe other night I scored a career 41 but ended up losing a real tough one to Phoenix. We definitely were looking at this a game as a barometer of sorts to see where we were since the Suns are probably the best team in the NBA right now. Most of the game we had them under control, but they made some great plays down the stretch and came back to win. I'm not a big fan of Leandro Barbosa right now if you know what I mean.
We've got some more tough games on the schedule too with Detroit coming into our house on Saturday. A lot of the media has been making a lot out of Ben playing his old team. Honestly, I really haven't talked to him a lot about that game yet, but I know he is going to be excited just to see his old teammates and play against the team that he had such a great career with. No doubt he will be pumped and ready to go. Don't be surprised if he has one of his best performances. But even if Ben wasn't playing for us, the Detroit-Chicago rivalry is still going strong. It is always a big game for us. Now with Ben on our side, it is a little more intense. Wait until we play the Pistons in Auburn Hills for the first time toward the end of February, that will be hyped up.
Having a guy like Ben Wallace on the defensive end each night really helps us. It's nice to know he's back there for support in case your man decides to drive to the hoop. Like us, Ben started off slow, but he has picked it up and is close to being the Ben that everyone saw in Detroit. Ben doesn't get enough credit for the other parts of his game, particularly his offense, where I think he is underrated. He is a really good passer, he gets guys open shots and he is always in there offensive rebounding and giving us second chances. He's a big part of our success.
Starter or 6th Man -- Doesn't MatterI feel like I've been getting in a pretty good groove lately. Everyone seems to bring up the question of whether I prefer to start or come off the bench. Really my whole mindset is that when I'm on the floor I just play my game and try to do what I do best. It really doesn't matter to me starting or coming off the bench as long as I'm in there at the end. I want to have some kind of control over the outcome of the game. That is the most important thing to me.
This season the coaches have shown a lot more faith in me. With the amount of work I put into the game every offseason, I have no reason not to be confident. But when the coaching staff shows you that little extra, it does nothing but help. I've been able to do a lot more of the things that I worked on in the summer instead of just always playing off the ball. Now I am a much better player when I have the ball in my hands. I can make plays for myself, whether it is getting to my midrange shot, getting to the basket or creating opportunities for my teammates.
Right now, we're still not where we want to be. We're doing a better job on offense, but defensively we still have work to do. Once we get playing the way we're capable on the defensive end, then the headlines will come and we'll really be a team to watch. Stay tuned.