Hornets.com 1-on-1: L.A. Lakers' Steve Blake
By: Clyde Verdin, Hornets.com
February 5, 2011
Before the third matchup between the Hornets and Lakers on Saturday at the New Orleans Arena, Hornets.com caught up with Los Angeles backup point guard Steve Blake.
Currently in his eighth year in the league, and first with the Lakers, Blake was a four-year star at the University of Maryland, leading the Terrapins to the 2002 national title where he was an All-ACC first team selection as a senior.
Since being drafted 38th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2003 NBA Draft, Blake has played for six teams, including two stints with the Portland Trail Blazers where he would eventually become teammates with current Hornet Jarrett Jack. In the 2008-09 season Blake had his best overall statistical year, averaging 11 points per game and close to six assists in 69 starts.
Hornets.com: Is it hard to believe youve been in the league for nearly eight years now?
Blake: Yeah, when you look back it seems a little crazy to think that Ive been in the NBA this long. Its been fast, but long at the same time. Its fun, definitely a fun job.
Hornets.com: For the first time in your career youre on a true contending team competing for a championship. What is that feeling like knowing what you might be able to accomplish this year?
Blake: Its a great feeling to know you have a chance to win it all. Its the main goal, and its the goal of every player in the league. But to actually be on a team that really has a chance is a great feeling. I just hope we can finish out like everyone expects us to.
Hornets.com: What aspects of your game best complement why youre here with the Lakers this season?
Blake: I think that Im pretty solid all around, really. Being able to hit open jump shots, be a team player and defend the ball well I think are my strengths. Being a good point guard that understands the game also helps, because I think they saw that I could fit into the triangle offense.
Hornets.com: Did you have any preconceived notions about playing with so many superstars like Kobe Bryant, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol before you joined the team, and what are they now?
Blake: All the things that I knew about them by playing against them were their intensity, individual skill sets and how good they really are. Now, those ideas have been magnified. Day in and day out you see how good they really are. Im just glad now Im playing with them instead of against them. [laughs]
Hornets.com: Tell us about your time playing with Jarrett Jack in Portland, and what about his game you liked and vice versa?
Blake: I got to know Jarrett pretty well in Portland and I think we have a respect for each others games, and we know that we both can play. Hes somebody thats very good at attacking the basket, has a good jump shot, good defender. I enjoyed having my competition with him every single day in practice in Portland because that makes you a better player when you go up against someone that good every day. Hes a great guy off the court as well and I have a lot of respect for him.
Hornets.com: And you both have deep ACC roots with you being a Terp and Jarrett being a Yellow Jacket?
Blake: Yeah we had some great battles when we were both in school, and its great whenever you play against a guy and then you get to know him as a friend when you finally play with them. So I was glad to have both of those experiences.
Hornets.com: Another tie you have to the Hornets is with Assistant General Manager Tim Connelly from your days together with the Wizards. Were you able to catch up with him at some point the two times youve come to New Orleans?
Blake: Yeah I got to talk to him the last time we were in town. I hadnt seen him in a while until that point, but we spent a lot of time together when we were both in Washington. Good guy, great guy to be around, extremely smart and just a great basketball mind. Its always good talking to him.
Hornets.com: Is it too early for people to start questioning whether or not the Lakers have what it takes to win another title?
Blake: Weve had a tough stretch, but I think with the guys we have here were going to use that to our advantage to learn something about our team. Its easy to cover things up when youre winning, so the fact that weve lost some bring those things to the surface, but all that does is allow us to fix those problems and get better.
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