Savage: Q&A With Brandon Bass

May 24, 2011's Dan Savage recently caught up with Magic power forward Brandon Bass to talk about his offseason workout routine, Orlando's First Round loss to the Atlanta Hawks, his search for mental toughness and more.

Savage: First off, what’s up? I see you’re already back in action.

Bass: “This is my third week working since we’ve been knocked out of the playoffs. I took some time off and went to Universal and Disney with my son, my sister and my girlfriend and spent a couple days with the family. Three days (laughs). That’s all they got. Three days. Then I just started back working because I figured whoever is going to win the championship is still playing. I just want to get myself that much better and I figure they’re playing, so I should be working and getting better. That way next season I can come back better and I can help this team in any way they need me to help them in.”

Savage: What have you been working on with Magic Scouting Information Manager Charles Klask?

Bass: “Today, I was working on expanding my range. Not to shoot threes, but to still be able to spread the floor like a three and to still get better at stepping into my range and knocking down the shot. Because no matter what personnel we have here, our whole system is around Dwight (Howard) and having the floor spread. So I just want to be able to do those things and be effective whether I am shooting a long two or a pullup or being decisive on a drive. I’m just trying to absorb more knowledge about the game and life itself."

Savage: From what I was watching, it looks like you’re attempting to be able to create space whether you’re on the baseline or at the top of the key, etc.

Bass: “Right, wherever I am at I want to be able to create space for Jameer (Nelson) to drive, (Hedo) Turkoglu to be able to drive and create or kick it out and know that I’m going to be able to knock down an open jumper. And at the same time, just be out there spreading the floor.”

Savage: What fuels you as a person? Right now, there are a lot of other players around the league, who are taking vacations instead of working out.

Bass: “My goal is to be the best, the best I can possibly be. When I am finished playing, I want to be able to say to myself, ‘You did everything you could possibly do to be the best player you could possibly be.’ That’s what gives me the energy to come and workout and that’s what motivates me, just to be the best. So really me coming here and working out and doing things to improve myself is kind of easy. It’s kind of a catch-22, it’s kind of easy and it’s kind of hard, but I just want to be the best and be the best me.”

Savage: Last offseason was a little bit different for you, because you were preparing to be the backup power forward to Rashard Lewis. You worked hard and did very well in that role. Then he gets traded midseason and you come into a starting role. So do you think you can make an even bigger jump this summer, because you know where you’re going to be and you’ve played those minutes and now know what you have to work on?

Bass: “Last offseason I prepared myself to be great defensively, to be a better rebounder and to be more efficient in the things I do. So therefore, I just knew how I was going to come in. This year I am kind of preparing myself the same way, but I just want to be a lot stronger and tougher mentally. Because this year, there were things that bothered me that were pretty much out of my control. I feel like I am going to get better physically by staying in the gym and by reading and by being around guys with knowledge I want to have. I want to be strong mentally, because the majority of this game is mental. There are guys in this league with not as much talent, but they’re so strong mentally that they overachieve. So that’s what I want to be able to do.”

Savage: What inspired your desire to be that mentally tough?

Dan Savage

Bass: “Growing up for me, my mom passed – I don’t have a mom around me all the time in my life – my dad is far away and we don’t have a great relationship, so I really don’t have too many people that are close to me that are older than me that have experienced things that I can talk to personally. Not like coaches or things like that, just personally. I just feel a lot of things I lack or I just don’t have because my mom passed at an early age and my father wasn’t close. I had to learn a lot of things myself. And if you’ve never went through something, you can’t really teach yourself, so I have been just kind of learning on the go. So now I have just been reading different things and trying to seek knowledge from different people and seek mental strength and toughness, so I can prepare myself to handle anything that presents itself at any given time.”

Savage: It sounds like this summer is not just a journey about finding knowledge on the basketball court, but about finding knowledge in general?

Bass: “Yeah, knowledge in general. With my mom and dad not being married or together and everything, I really don’t know so much about family structure. One day, I want to start a family, but I don’t just want to start one without knowledge of it first, because marriage is a big thing. You know what I mean; it’s a crazy thing. So from now on instead of learning from mistakes I want to be able to know about a bunch of different things before I jump into them and have to learn from different things.”

Savage: On the basketball court, obviously it was disappointing losing to the Hawks, is that something that is still surprising to you or still burns inside?

Bass: “I feel like we’re the better team. I feel like we were supposed to win that series. But I also feel like, we were the perfect match for them to play, especially in the First Round, because we beat them by so many points the previous year. For them, it didn’t matter if they lost every game; they just wanted to beat us, while we wanted a championship. It’s kind of like we met our match, because I feel like if they would have played any other team they wouldn’t have been as successful and if we would have played any other team we would have been that much more successful. I still think we’re the better team and I feel like I could have done a lot more to help us. And that’s why I am in the gym now, because when I feel like I could do more and I want to do more that really bothers me. It really bothers me. I can’t live free. I can’t relax knowing that I could have done more. I want to do more so I am working now so I can do more next season.”

Savage: Every day I’ve come down to the practice court, I’ve seen you here either shooting or in the weight room. What have you been doing in the weight room and how do you balance the need for rest vs. the drive to keep working? Clearly, there’s a fine line between working hard and wearing yourself out after a long NBA season.

Bass: “When I come (on to the court) I’m kind of doing 45 minutes to an hour of hard work. And in the weight room what I’m doing is corrective exercises, things to correct the injuries I had earlier in the season. I am not really lifting that hard. At some point, I am going to go on vacation and relax, but I feel like it’s important for me right now, while the best of the best are still playing, that I’m working, because I want to be that much better. So that next year, I can be at where they are this year. I don’t think it’s cool for me to just sit back and watch them playing. By going through this experience, they’re going to be that much better and I want to be that much better too. So I am working.”

Follow Dan Savage on Twitter here