5 Q’s With Michael Stewart
In his eighth NBA season, the athletic 6-10 center, originally signed with the Sacramento Kings as an undrafted free agent prior to the start of the 1997-98 season after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley as the school's single-game, single-season and career blocked shots leader. His rookie season he finished seventh in the league with 2.41 blocks per game. Coming into 2004-05 he was averaging a block a game (273 career blocks in 274 games). The Hawks are currently 23rd in the league, averaging 4.1 bpg.
Stewart recently took time out to talk with Hawks.com about being in Atlanta, what he brings to the team and his previous experience with current Hawks Head Coach Mike Woodson and Assistant Coach Larry Drew.
1. Hawks.com: What are your thoughts on being in Atlanta?
Michael Stewart: I'm happy to be here. I've had a chance to settle in, get a couple of practices, and get more familiar with the team and coaches. Hopefully I can get to work and earn some playing time.
2. Hawks.com: How do you see your role on this team?
MS: Once I get my legs under me -- I haven't played all year -- I can run, rebound, block shots, the same things I've always done. With the things I do I know my role on every team. I'm not a scorer. I'm not going to come out shooting. I do the little things. The dirty work, rebound, play defense. So I automatically know my role.
3. Hawks.com: Having played with Gary Payton and Jason Kidd, who is the best point guard you ever played with?
MS: Other than practice I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time on the court with G.P. But he was good. I've watched him his whole career. He still does a lot of the same things. Offensively he's not what he used to be but just in terms of leadership and the little things that he brings, he was great. (At Cal) I played with a young J. Kidd, so he was up and down. Distributing, he was the best point guard in the country.
4. Hawks.com: What do you remember about your experience as a ballboy for the Sacramento Kings and what was it like to later play for them?
MS: They were both fun. I actually was the ballboy when Mike Woodson and Larry Drew were in the back court. They were both good. One of the things that I remember was when Coach Drew would come down the court and hit a jumper the whole crowd would go "Drewwwwwwww!" I was teasing him, reminding him that was when I was a kid. I've been a Sacramento Kings fan my whole life. I got a chance to watch them play. To me, as a kid, it doesn't get any better than that. I was at every game, sitting at courtside seeing my favorite players play. But then getting a chance to stay home and actually play for my hometown team, that was an unbelievable experience. My parents were at every game, the crowd was cheering my name. I grew up playing in that same arena when I was in high school (Kennedy High School in Sacramento). You can't beat that.
5. Hawks.com: Is it nice to be back in warm weather in Atlanta?
MS: Yeah. I've been in Toronto, Cleveland and Boston back-to-back-to-back. So it's good to get out of that cold weather, make your joints feel a little bit better.
Jon Cooper is a freelance writer based in Atlanta