Q&A: Ronny Turiaf
Ronny Turiaf Conference Call | July 18, 2013
Editor’s Note: New Wolves center Ronny Turiaf spoke with the Twin Cities media on Thursday after the team officially announced signing the eight-year veteran. Below the Q&A Turiaf had with the Twin Cities media about why he picked the Wolves, his relationship with Flip Saunders, how Fred Hoiberg helped him through the most difficult time in his life, and what Mickael Gelabale said about the Minnesota winters.
Your agent said Minnesota was the right fit for you, what was it about the Wolves?
Just looking at it first and foremost from the outside looking in, when you have Flip making decisions, that’s very important to me. He knows what type of player I am, and he wants to get me in places I want to be on the floor. To talk about his vision he has and the way we’re set up, I felt like I was a rookie all over again.
Did you ever play for Flip?
I played (four) games, I was 3-for-3 from the floor but I was hurt after that. I broke my hand, but Flip definitely saw that I had my playoff experience and not only in the locker room but also on the floor as well. I only played four games, but I was like an extra coaching staff on the court.
What’s the experience of playing for and winning an NBA Championship like?
When I think about the path of my career, I’ve been fortunate to have played pretty much on successful teams for eight years. I’ve been to the playoffs six times. When you experience things such as going to the playoffs and losing in the playoffs, I lost in the Finals when playing for the Lakers. That’s the stage when you find basketball is a game a detail, a game of dedication, a game where you have to play with team chemistry and the same tempo, like what Phil Jackson said back in the day. Going through all those experiences and ups and downs, it showed me finally what I can bring to the table. It’s a fresh new start, and I’m looking forward to it.
Did you talk to them about that experience?
Yeah, I definitely talked about it. I talked about how I would be in the situation where I can affect the game on and off the court. We talked about the situation in Washington in the past and the situation here. It’s funny how things work out. I remember saying eight years ago when I was going through my whole deal with my heart surgery, you had a guy up here named Fred Hoiberg who was almost a father figure to me. He helped me through the worst time in my life, and it all worked out. Hopefully it comes full circle.
How much did you talk?
He had his surgery three weeks ahead of me, and he told me what would happen right ahead of me. He told me what would happen right ahead of me. Anytime I had a question, he was there for moral support.
Do you still maintain contact with Fred?
Of course. It’s a bond we have. I congratulated him on his deal, when he first got there (to Iowa State). I think that for me that shows the basketball game, that goal. That transcends generation to have someone like Fred Hoiberg and myself just becoming partners in this crazy whole deal. It’s a wonderful thing to me.
What perspective do you have continuing to play afterwards?
Every situation is different, but I know when Fred went through it he didn’t see it as the end of his career, he saw it as the start of a new career. He didn’t want to put his health in jeopardy for his family. For me growing up in the Caribbean on the island surrounded by water, you learn to appreciate life. When I look at my heart surgery, it gave me a platform necessary to save people’s lives. I want the Ronny Turiaf legacy to help others. That’s why I have the heart foundation, why I work in the Caribbean for kids with heart problems.
Did you talk to Mickael Gelabale about the Wolves?
We started playing ball together, so throughout the year we talked about the Timberwolves. We did charity work together, and we had a chance to talk about the Timberwolves. I only heard great things. The one thing he said that I appreciated, with the cold weather you don’t need to walk outside with the skyways.