Q&A with Vladimir Radmonovic

By Jon Cooper

There were plenty of good reasons for the Atlanta Hawks to sign free agent forward Vladimir Radmanovic this recent off-season.

The former first-round pick of the Seattle SuperSonics in 2001 NBA Draft, signed by the Hawks on Dec. 9, 2011, began the ’11-12 season, his 11th in the NBA, as a career .381 shooter from three-point range — a number that should go up at his current pace, as heading into Tuesday night’s game, he was hitting at .397 (29-for-73).

Radmanovic also knows what it takes to get to the NBA Finals, having done so with the 2007-08 Los Angeles Lakers.

Vladimir Radmanovic of the Atlanta HawksOff the court, he’s a guy with a big heart, running his own foundation (The Vladimir Radmanovic Children’s Foundation), having traveled to South Africa in 2009 and 2010  to participate in Basketball Without Borders and avidly helping out UNICEF, which illustrates his sense of commitment and gratitude, as he benefited from UNICEF growing up in Yugoslavia.

Talking with him, you’ll find he’s a free-spirit but well-spoken, with a neat sense of humor.

Hawks.com recently had the opportunity to sit down with Radmanovic following practice — once he finally stopped shooting, that is —and talked with him about everything from what it’s like to roll out of bed to hit a three, what in the NBA is comparable to feeling of being chased by a lion, and in what way he’d choose Atlanta over L.A. every time.

HAWKS.COM: Even on an off-day, you find a way to get extra shots in.

RADMANOVIC: That’s what we’ve got to do. Even with this scheduling. We still have to come here and do our work. So any break you get you get some shots.

HAWKS.COM: It’s said of some guys that they could roll out of bed and hit a three. Are you one of those guys?

RADMANOVIC: You take so many shots throughout your career it becomes second nature. As a shooter, the best day in your life is after a long break, you get in the gym and everything goes in. So, rolling out of bed, it’s nice to hit those but going full speed is probably a better option.

HAWKS.COM: Have you ever literally rolled out of bed and hit a three?

RADMANOVIC; That’s one of those things that you’re on a long road trip, you get to the shootaround, you don’t know what city you are in, you’re sleepy and you just walk in the gym, take the ball, first shot you make it. It’s happened a few times. Quite a few (laughs). I’m not the only one. I think a lot of guys have done it.

HAWKS.COM: The Hawks began another long road trip (five games in eight days, starting Feb. 14 in Los Angeles). How have you dealt with the crazy road trips this season, especially that last crazy 10-day, five-city trip?

RADMANOVIC: You know what? The longer you’re in this league the shorter the days are. It was a 10-day road trip but it didn’t really feel like that for me. I’m here by myself. So not having anything to look forward to come back home probably makes things easier. For me, being on the road or being at home, is pretty much the same thing.

HAWKS.COM: Atlanta won four of five on the last road trip. Is it easier to fly so much when you’re winning?

RADMANOVIC: Winning makes life easier. Even when you feel miserable, as long as you win the game, you forget about your misery. Losing just exaggerates things, though. I’ve been on winning teams. I’ve been on losing teams. I can tell you, when you’re on a winning team it’s a really short season. When you’re on a losing team that season kind of stretches. Even though you don’t get in the Playoffs, it feels like you’ve played for five years because you can’t get a win.

HAWKS.COM: You’ve gotten to the NBA Finals. What was the experience like and how can you help this team get there?

RADMANOVIC: I had a chance to experience being on a team that competed for the championship at the level where every night when you walk out you feel like you’re going to beat the team that you’re playing against. That feeling is priceless. That’s something that, as a player, no matter how many minutes you play, no matter what your role is on the team, when you know you can step up and beat any team, that’s just the ultimate feeling. Obviously, I was with the Lakers when we lost in the Finals (2007-08, they lost 4-2 to Boston). That’s one of the worst feelings in the world, getting to the end and not being able to accomplish your goals. It’s tough. When you see that team celebrating, your whole world just breaks down. You go deep in the Playoffs, you get into June, your legs are out, you’re giving your last source of energy and you just can’t do it. It’s like running away from a lion but in the end you don’t escape that lion. He catches you. That’s basically the feeling that you have.

I think we’ve got a pretty good group of guys, guys with experience. Obviously, we don’t have any rookies, Ivan [Johnson] is a rookie but he’s 27 years old. There are some things he doesn’t know about this league but when it comes to maturity, I think we’re all at the same level and we don’t have to deal with the stuff that young players go through. They all want to play big minutes. They want to prove themselves. Everybody here has accomplished something at some point in his career. All we have to do is get the best out of each and every player and try to get as far as we can.

HAWKS.COM: With you here, the Hawks currently rank third in the NBA in three-point shooting (39.2 percent) and the team is 6-1 when you make two threes. Coincidence?

RADMANOVIC: I think shooting is a contagious thing. It’s all about confidence. Sometimes when you see somebody making a shot it builds your confidence as well. I think that’s what’s happening here. Joe [Johnson] is a good shooter, [Jannero] Pargo is a great shooter, J.T. (Jeff Teague) has improved a lot from what I knew of him, obviously, Willie {Green] and I were brought here to bring that. T-Mac is another guy that can shoot a three. So once you start making a couple of them — not you personally, but the team — the whole thing just opens up and for other teams, it’s really hard to guard that. When you have a one-dimensional team that can just go inside, they all get in and they don’t let you do that. But when you can do a couple of things, if your team is balanced, whatever the defense gives you, there’s more confidence for the team.

HAWKS.COM: You’ve been in L.A. and now Atlanta. Which city has worse traffic?

RADMANOVIC: I have to go with L.A. Atlanta, there is a highway that’s backed up and if you use streets you can pretty much get anywhere you want. That’s not the case in L.A. There are quite a few highways over there and they’re all packed in rush hour. If you try to use streets, you hit pretty much the same traffic, just with the lights. I don’t think it’s comparable, but whoever lives here, it’s probably the worst traffic for him. So I don’t blame him.

HAWKS.COM: How have you handled navigating Atlanta?

RADMANOVIC: It’s pretty easy. Once you’ve picked up a few orientation spots, it’s easy and with new technology, a GPRS system, it’s not that hard to get around town.