Clippers center Michael Olowokandi, the No. 1 draft pick in 1998 tipped off the Draft Cybercast with a live chat before the picking began on June 26. Here's what he had to say:
Michael, who do you want the Clippers to take tonight?
Probably one of the better guards. It's going to be difficult depending on who's left in the draft, but we'd have to trade up ahead of Chicago to get Jason Williams. Our teammates are friends with him. He played with Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, but we're afraid Chicago might get him. We have every other piece, but we need a good solid point guard.
Are you planning to re-sign with the Clippers?
We're trying to do the right thing and the Clippers are getting the team together. I'm confident the team will make the right decision. It would be a shame to lose players when you're putting the team together. I want to stay and I think the Clippers want me to stay. And I'm confident we'll all do the right thing.
Sir Michael, are the clippers finally ready to take the title and the city of Los Angeles in the 2002-03 NBA season?
We'd definitely love to. There's a big Clipper fan base in LA. And contrary to what people think, the city is big enough for the Clippers and the Lakers. They've won the last three and I think they could keep winning. But Phil Jackson has said he doesn't want to coach past 60 and Shaq has said he only wants to play for Jackson. So I could see it being like the Bulls and we have a lot of young guys so we can definitely take LA back.
How does it feel to play with Lamar Odom, Elton Brand, Darius Miles, and Quentin Richardson?
It's great. I don't think I've ever been on a team that's had as many talented players as we have. Everyone is very talented on our team. It's the best talent I've been around. And talent is fine but now we have to take the next steps to win. Talent looks good on paper, but sometimes to win, you have to re-align that talent so that's what we're doing next.
Are there any players you see out of these draftees that you think will make a impact in the NBA?
I think Caron Butler is definitely ready to come in and start playing. Jason Williams is definitely going to be ready. Kareem Rush is going to be ready. Those are the main guys I'm thinking about right now. The Chinese guy, I don't know because I've never seen him play. But you can't teach the size. They've said he can shoot threes, but I don't know how many threes you can shoot in the NBA. He'll be better rebounding down low. I think those guys will definitely make an impact.
tony (telford, UK):
Hi I know you used to play basketball in England and was wondering what do you think of the new international prospects that are entering the draft especially the brazialian NENE
Good. There's a lot of them this year. Last year there were a lot of high school kids that came out. This year it's a big international kid. I think we might actually end up with the Brazilian kid. I've heard he's very athletic, plays soccer. Those guys can play, like Nowitzki, Gasol. They can play, especially the big ones.
Stephen (new zealand):
What do you remember most about draft day Michael?
A lot of anxiety. I remember the night before I couldn't sleep. Kids are tense, not knowing where they are going to end up. Nothing against Milwaukee, but it's the difference between enjoying sunny California and the snow in Wisconsin. You never know. It's a day you never forget, because it starts a significant difference for the rest of your life. It's also very tedious. Tomorrow morning they'll have to fly to whatever city and then the next two weeks are very hectic. Then training camps, there are more interviews, plus wherever they travel on the road, the media is interested in them. The first year is very demanding.
Every team needs a certain feature to win a championship such as Shaq and Kobe or Jordan, what would you say the clippers need to win a championship?
I think we have everything. I don't know what the situation is with Jeff McInnis. I don't know if they're going to sign him or not. If they don't we're going to need a point guard, but not a point guard who wants to come in and score. We need someone who can play defense and penetrate and then we'll be fine.
What was the turning point for you last year as far as your development and resurgence went?
I definitely had a game plan coming into the season. I was even lighter than I was in college. In college I was 260-270 and I came in at about 256. When you're fatigued, it takes away the chances for you to do the things that you're capable. I think at some point during the season you get a very good feel for the game. You get a very good feel for how your teammates play with you and how they play around you. I just think at some point last season everything feel into place and everything felt comfortable. I think I gave myself more of an opportunity by being in shape.
Who is your favorite basketball player?
I always liked the Dream, Hakeem Olajuwon as a big guy. If you diminish him in size, probably about 4-5 inches, will he still be a good player? That is definitely the case with Hakeem. You don't compromise his game with his size. He was very agile and ran the floor well. He's almost like a big guard. Not everyone is going to be a Shaq, be that big and take up that much space.
Hi Michael, You match pretty well with Shaq!! What do you do differently that others in the league have been trying to do??
I don't know. I think when you play against a guy as dominating as Shaq, it's important to play as a team. I don't think one person is capable of playing against Shaq. I think I do have a lot of help from my teammates but at the same time, it requires a different mental approach when you play against a guy like Shaq. Strength helps, but it's also important that you have a big guy who can go against Shaq. Most big guys stay away from him, but you have to attack. He can't live in his comfort zone whereby he's the aggressor and you're just passive. So it's important that you run up and down the court.
What is your personal advice to those who are beginning their journey into the NBA?
This is going to sound very repetitive, but the more you practice the better. When I came into the NBA, I had very limited basketball experience so it was going to be difficult to come in and produce right away. Just playing in a lot of different games and being in a lot of different situations helps you adapt. And the only way you're going to get to that level is with a lot of repetitions just like everyone else.
Thank you fans. Thanks for your support. It's much appreciated. Go Clippers!
Thanks to everyone who sent in their questions to Michael Olowokandi!