The three Warriors representative were burning up the recorders at the media availability session on Friday
got milk? Sophomores
Friday, February 7, 2003
Arenas | Murphy | Richardson | Fratello | Chandler | Gasol | Jefferson | Kirilenko | Parker | Tinsley
Q: Are you looking forward to hooking up with former college teammate Richard Jefferson?
Arenas: No. It took longer than to ice melt. I mean we joke so much that we are going to go out there and have fun, try and pull out the win because $7,500 looks better than $5,000.
Q: Are you guys in contact a lot during the season?
Arenas: No, I think we just stopped talking after draft. I mean when we see each other we have a whole bunch of fun, but we just let each other do our own thing, you know me, him and Loren Woods.
Q: You’ve got a current teammate in the dunk contest and a former teammate in the dunk contest? What are your thoughts?
Arenas: I can’t cheer for anyone, last year, I gave Richardson’s one of Richard’s dunks he did in college. So Richard’s mad at me about that. It was the one at the end. So, they are going to go for it and pull out something they have never tried before.
Q: What is the state of the Golden State Warriors?
Murphy: We’re a young team, but if we can get to the playoffs, I think we can make some noise. As we get older, we’ll get better.
Q: What does it mean to you to take part in the NBA All-Star weekend?
Murphy: It’s great to be here participating in the Rookie Challenge. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I really look forward to it.
Q: What did you do to step up your game this year?
Murphy: I just tried to concentrate more on rebounding. Defense became a higher priority as well. If I can hit an open jump shot to help the team, then that’s what I try to do. Things have worked out pretty well for me.
Q: What is it like to play for a young team?
Murphy: It’s exciting. We have a talented team and a young coach in Eric Musselman and there’s excitement. I’m happy to be a part of it.
Q: What does the team need to work on as you grow as a unit?
Murphy: I think we just need time. We need time to play together and develop our skills together. Once we play together more, we’ll be fine.
Q: What do you need to work on to become a better player?
Murphy: I just need to be stronger and become a better defender.
Q: What is it like playing in the tough Western Conference?
Murphy: The road is tough, but that’s what you want. You want to play and beat the best.
Q: What can be done to help bring back the excitement to the Slam Dunk contest?
Richardson: Well, I think it hasn’t been big in years because it’s so difficult to create new dunks. People are tired of seeing the same old dunks every year. I think this year it will be a little bit different. I think it will be a contest that people will remember. Hopefully I’ll be able to repeat as champion.
Q: Who would you compare yourself to from the past?
Richardson: Dominique Wilkins. I’m also a two-foot dunker. I can’t dunk off of one leg, but I’m also a powerful dunker. He’s my favorite even though he was robbed back in 1988. I guess since Mike (Jordan) was on his home court it’s hard to lose a dunk contest in front of the hometown people.
Q: What’s been the key to Golden State’s improvement this season?
Richardson: I think our guys worked really hard over the summer and put in the effort to help us get better. Troy Murphy put on 25 pounds, Gilbert (Arenas) and I stayed late in the gym and Antwan Jamison did, too. I think Eric Mussleman’s game plan has been a big help, too. Every time he touches a basketball or steps on a basketball court he’s very competitive about it and I think that rubs off on the players.
Q: Talk about Earl Boykins and how he has helped the team?
Richardson: I knew Earl could do it all along. Growing up in Michigan, I used to watch him all the time when he was at Eastern Michigan and I knew he had it in him all along. I saw how he could perform in college so I never doubted him.
Q: I just spoke with Cotton, and he’s concerned with the length on the inside and with the experience of your team.
Fratello: I had a lengthy conversation with Cotton on the phone about a week ago. He was watching TV and he heard Jeff Van Gundy say the rookie team would beat the sophomore team by 10. He said that wasn’t true and that they would win by 20. He immediately posed a challenge for this group to overcome. All we can do is go out and play hard and unselfishly. We’re going against a coach that is a legend, at least in his mind.
Q: Let’s talk about some of the young players on your team.
Fratello: We are fortunate that we can play a number of players in a number of positions. The tough thing here is that you’re playing two 20-minute halves. You want to give the players equal number of minutes as possible. You want to see what players have a hot hand, and use him down the stretch. Hopefully, they are here to win a basketball game, and show the great fans of the NBA that these are the stars of the future. I hear people say that they just want to have fun in these types of games. Well, to me winning is fun. We’ll see how they approach this thing and then come out tomorrow and see how it goes.
Q: Are there sophomores that you think have developed from a year ago?
Fratello: There are several guys that have taken big steps. I think Pau Gasol has really shown that he is one of our bright young big men down the road. Murphy spent the entire summer dedicating himself to becoming stronger and bigger and working on his perimeter game. I think Gilbert Arenas has really done some really good things. Kirilenko by his willingness to go to the bench and play a sixth man role, has been so vital to the Jazz. He’s played terrific for them. That’s what you’re supposed to do in your sophomore year is be better than you were in your rookie year and continue to grow.
Q: Talk about Stoudemire and Caron Butler. Two players you’ve seen a lot of this season.
Fratello: I think Stoudemire caught everyone in the league by surprise as to how good he really is. Miami has to be really excited about Caron. As you follow his numbers each month throughout the season, he has gradually put better numbers on the board and helped his team. He has won Pat Riley’s trust over. Caron has worked very hard and gotten better. Stoudemire has taken that Phoenix franchise and made it better. Both of these young men have had impacts. The difference is that Phoenix is full and healthy and they’ve been able to accomplish more that Miami. Miami has some huge pieces missing.
Q: Have you seen any areas in their games, I’m talking about the international players, where their game many be a little deficient in certain areas compared to the American players?
Fratello: They may be over there doing interviews saying our players are a little deficient in certain areas. A lot of their people come in highly skilled. The speed, quickness and athleticism can’t be taught. The skills that we try to develop -- passing, shooting, dribbling -- most come in highly developed.
Q: What is some advice you would give younger players on behavioral issues?
Fratello: You wish you get them all to understand what voices to listen to. It’s difficult when they are surrounded by different people who all want to get a piece of them. They have to filter out the ones not to listen to. There are critical times when you hope that they make the right decisions.
Q: Can you talk about the adjustments from going from the high school to the NBA?
Chandler: I’m glad that I made the move. I’m just learning and trying to adjust. I learned a lot throughout my first year, and now I’m just trying to put that in place.
Q: Was it harder than you thought it would be?
Chandler: It was much harder than I thought it would be. There were so many different circumstances: playing for the Bulls, coaching changes. It was a difficult adjustment.
Q: How difficult was it learning the triangle?
Chandler: It wasn’t as hard learning as it was actually playing in it. The triangle was pretty simple for me as far as understanding it. It was hard applying my game to it, though.
Q: Does it take a lot of maturity to make it into the NBA at such a young age?
Chandler: It takes a lot of maturity. Without it, you’ll fall by the wayside.
Q: Who is your candidate for MVP the year?
Gasol: Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are having good years. They are averaging double-doubles almost every game.
Q: How are you dealing with your previous injuries now?
Gasol: I’ve already erased my injuries that occurred earlier on this season. I wear a brace for my wrist and I feel much better, now. I haven’t had any problems with it. I learned that I just had to deal with them. It’s hard when you play with an injury because it always bothers you, but you just learn and compensate best you can.
Q: Can you be on another Rookie Challenge winning team?
Gasol: We’re going to go for it. We just want to have fun and enjoy the experience. If we win the game, it will make for an even better experience.
Q: Will there be any smack talk between you and your two Memphis rookies?
Gasol: I’m sure there will be a little talk once the game starts. We won’t be teammates then and we all want to win.
Q: How difficult is it to come to Atlanta and play after a long first half of the season in Memphis?
Gasol: I’m just going to have fun. It’s an honor to be here this weekend. It’s a break and it gives you a time to adjust your focus. When we start again next week, we still want to win in Memphis.
Q: Is this more of a break for you than last year with the amount of media exposure?
Gasol: It is a little lighter. Last year, I learned as the weekend went on.
Q: Talk about Amare Stoudemire.
Jefferson: First of all, he has an unbelievable body, which allows him to play so much more physical, that’s what they have to understand, especially for a kid coming out of high school. But he just plays and attacks the basket with a recklessness that a lot of people don’t do. And I think because he is young and jumping around, you think about what Shaq used to try and do, try to break the backboard and try to dunk it, when he first came into the league, and I think that is what Amare is trying to do right now.
Q: Does being here feel like vindication for not being selected as a rookie last year?
Jefferson: It doesn’t matter to me. For whatever reason I wasn’t here last year. You know, again, like I said. I would just much rather be in the Finals, be in the playoffs then be here in this situation. You know Kenyon (Martin) is another one, you know when all is said and done he may not be here, but the guys like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and some other players, they are going to be watching us play in the playoffs, so you just have to put it in perspective.
Q: Are you looking forward to hooking up with former college teammate Gilbert Arenas?
Jefferson: Definitely. We were back there joking in a meeting and everything. Me, Gilbert and Jason Terry, some Arizona guys just back there having fun. It will be fun to be out there playing with them. I know his game hasn’t changed too much so I know he won’t be passing the ball too much.
Q: Are you surprised by how well he is playing?
Jefferson: No, he should have been … I thought he was a lot better than most of the players picked in the first round, and I think he is showing it, obviously. He is one of the best young players in the NBA, one of the top two or three young guards in the NBA in their second year and he is having a great year and you know I think he is going to show a lot of people what he is capable of doing.
Q: So how is it that you and Jason took separate planes?
Jefferson: Jason is a very, very rich individual, so that allows him to charter his own flights. For me, I get on the flight with 30 other people, where Jason has his own flight where he leaves when he wants to leave. You know, it’s just the snow.
Q: Compare the differences between players in each conference.
Kirilenko: In the West, you have four or five big guys (centers), and four of five (great) point guards. The East has four of five (great) twos and threes. The West has more big guys, more under the basket … The East has better forwards, the West better centers and point guards.
Q: Who do you think would win in a World vs. U.S. all-star type game?
Kirilenko: I think it’s pretty hard to say. I think American All-Stars would win the game, but it would not be an easy game. Probably a difference of 10, eight points.
Q: Do you think that would be a spectacle for the fans, the U.S. vs. the rest of the world?
Kirilenko: Yes. It’s like the NHL sometimes does, with USA and Canada against the rest of the world. I think in five years, maybe it would be the same (competition) when there would be more European guys.
Q: How does the media interest compare here as in Russia?
Kirilenko: It’s a big difference. Here, sports in America are No. 1. Sometimes, it’s more than show business. In Moscow, show business is No. 1.
Q: What are the Spurs doing to compensate for the recent injuries?
Parker: We have a little bit of a problem. We’ll have to change our rotation. Now Steve Smith might be back in the lineup or maybe Danny Ferry will play more minutes. We’re going to play a little different, but everybody knows that when their number is called, they have to go in and perform to the best of their abilities. Hopefully, the changes won’t break our rhythm.
Q: What are your feelings on the number of European players in the NBA now?
Parker: European basketball has progressed. We are getting better and it’s good for the NBA. We can really say that the NBA is the best league in the world because of the different countries represented. We have players in this league from everywhere.
Q: Why do you think the U.S. lost in the World Cup?
Parker: They didn’t send their best players. I think it makes the USA realize that they need to send their best players to play and win against European players. If the USA had sent Shaq and Tim Duncan, I believe it could have been a different story. We had no one who could play defense against those guys.
Q: How do you feel about being in All-Star Weekend your second season?
Parker: It’s great, but I’m still trying to improve and progress. I just want to get better, our team to get better and continue to reach our goals.
Q: How do you feel about Michael Jordan?
Parker: He’s huge. I looked up to him when I was younger. He was huge in France. It’s an honor to even say I’ve played with him. He made me want to play basketball.
Q: How have things changed for you this season?
Tinsley: Not much. My role has been the same this year. It’s all about decisions I make on the court. As I get older, my coach (Isiah Thomas) expects more from me, so if something has changed, it’s that he expects more. When I’m doing something wrong, I’m not a rookie no more.
Q: How did it feel to make splash last year?
Tinsley: It was something I knew I was capable of doing. I didn’t know it would be this easy, not saying it’s easy like that, but certain guys just don’t play hard and I’m the type of guy, I’m always playing hard. I want to be the best. That’s a challenge for more.
Q: Do you have a better feel for the league now?
Tinsley: I know what to expect now, as far as living on the road, what my coaches want and basically what my teammates like to do and don’t like to do, where they want the ball, where they don’t want the ball.
Q: How do you feel about Ron Artest as a person and a player?
Tinsley: I love him. We’re both from New York. I know how it is. He’s a guy that’s playing hard-nosed basketball. That’s what I love about him. I’m like that, too, but I’m not going to show it like that, because everybody’s different. He’s just a good guy. People see what he does and think he’s a bad guy, but he really isn’t.
Q: Doesn’t he have to get it under control?
Tinsley: Sometimes, but everybody makes mistakes. He’s gonna learn from that.
Q: What are your thoughts on Jermaine O’Neal?
Tinsley: Jermaine’s been big for us. Every time we need a basket, he’s the guy.