Ben Gordon Blog | 2006.07
Bulls guard Ben Gordon checks in to discuss winning Game 4 and avoiding a second round sweep, the team’s mentality as they head back to Detroit for Game 5, the Pistons’ All-Star guards, and having nothing to lose.
Posted by Ben Gordon on May 17, 2007 at 8:17 a.m. CT
The first three games were really uncharacteristic of my abilities. I just wanted to come out and redeem myself, relax and play my game. When I’m able to do that, I think good things happen. The main thing why I shot much better in Game 5 was I eliminated the hesitation in my shot. They have some really long athletes, guys like Rip and Tayshaun, who can recover really quick so it caused me to hesitate sometimes when I was making decisions on the offensive end. On Tuesday night, there was no hesitation. Being able to get off to a good start and get a rhythm early really helped my shot and allowed coach to look to get me off a little bit more. It’s something I’ve struggled to do throughout the series and I just showed what I can do by having a good shooting night. I just need to continue to be aggressive whether my shots are falling or not and make plays for my teammates if I’m not making them myself.
The playoffs are all about having x-factors. You know who your usual suspects are on each team, and it’s about who is going to step up. Which guys off the bench can come in and kind of shock people and put your team over the edge when maybe someone is struggling or when it’s a really tight game? In Game 5, P.J. played really well and the young boy, Tyrus Thomas, came off the bench and was doing everything – blocking shots, running the floor, catching lobs, putbacks. So we really need that energy and intensity from him. We need him to be the x-factor for us.
Early on in the series, people were wondering if we needed to have another team meeting or if we needed more pep talks. But at that point, we were all pep talked out. It was time to show what we could do with our actions and stop talking. Actions do speak louder than words. I think a lot of people did count us out, but we’re still here, we have another game Thursday night we’re going to go out and try and just compete. Every game we win, we’re giving ourselves a chance to do something special.
Right now we have a good mindset. Even when we were down 3-0, we felt like we had nothing to lose, so for the most part we’re up against history. The reason why we were confident was because we watched a lot of film and from watching the film we found that we weren’t playing anywhere close to our best basketball. That was the main reason why we were losing those games. We figured if we came out and just played our type of basketball, we would definitely have a chance to win. For Game 6, we’re going to go out there and relax, play hard with energy, and see what happens.
The whole pressure thing is kind of like a hot potato – no one wants to hold it. The majority of the pressure is on the Pistons even though the series is still in their favor. They’re probably disappointed that they didn’t close us out yet. They had two chances to do it, but like Ben Wallace said after Game 5 when he was getting interviewed, the Pistons are a team he went to war with and those guys aren’t rattled. They’re still confident they can win again. I don’t think they’re shaken or rattled or whatever, but at the same time, they’re very disappointed that they didn’t put us away yet. But there is also pressure on us also now that we’ve gotten ourselves back in the series.
The main difference is Kirk Hinrich coming out and setting the tone. If you look in the beginning of the games we’ve won, he’s come out and put pressure on guys as far as pushing the ball up the court, hitting the open man and looking for his own shot. The key is Kirk getting us off to a good start and then me doing what I do. Using our youth and athleticism is a big part of our game. If we can continue to do that, along with playing well in the halfcourt where we’re running our sets and taking advantage of our quickness, then that will help us. Against a team like Detroit, you have to put pressure on them because they’re a very good halfcourt team and you want to disrupt their tempo as much as you can.
When we’ve had success, we’ve really been active defensively. We’ve been doing a better job of rebounding the basketball, which is something we struggled with in the first couple of games. That’s something we definitely addressed in practice and even during the game. Coach kept getting on us to get in there and get more boards. Detroit is a team that has more size than us, and it’s something you have to give up sometimes. If you put a small lineup out there, it’s tough for us guys to get in there and get those boards. We have to continue to use our quickness and get all those loose balls and long rebounds. And we’ve been getting some more of our ball movement back that we lacked. Guys weren’t getting their normal looks. We were kind of stagnant in our offense. The first couple of games, we allowed them to put us back on our heels and we didn’t have any counter for that. Now, we’re taking their punches and we’re able to have an answer for certain things they do out there. Throw in the fact that we’re going to have our crowd in Game 6 to rally us when we need them, and I like our chances.
Posted by Ben Gordon on May 14, 2007 at 4:33 p.m. CT
On Sunday we came out and guys were aggressive. I though Kirk and Luol got off to good starts. They really sparked us in the beginning and everyone kind of followed their lead. The difference between Sunday’s game and Game 3 was we were able to continue to be aggressive for the entire game, not just the first half, and we did a better job of handling some of the defenses they threw at us. If we want to be successful the rest of the series, we have to continue to do that.
It's do or die time for Ben Gordon and the Bulls when they face the Pistons in Detroit for Game 5.
It was important for us to not get swept. You don’t want to go into the summer ending your season that way and thinking about what you could have done to avoid it. Guys responded well. A lot of people were counting us out, so it shows a lot about the team.
I didn’t shoot a very good percentage in Game 4, but I got to the free throw line. That is what you have to do sometimes when you’re struggling; you have to find other ways to score. I just have to continue to find ways to be effective to help my team and I have to stay out of foul trouble. The first three games, I was in foul trouble, but on Sunday, I only had one foul in the first half. That allowed me to stay in a lot longer and play my game a little bit more. Solid defense without picking up any cheap fouls is key.
Guys are relaxed. We really have nothing to lose heading into Game 5. We just want to go out there and make sure we leave everything on the floor, make sure that at the end of the game, regardless of what happens, that we tried our best to stick to our plan and play our game. Guys find comfort in that. That’s something we did Sunday and it worked for us.
After Game 3 much was being said in the media about the Bulls needing this and the Bulls needing that. The beat writers and media always ask those types of questions, like, “Would things be different if they had a low post scorer?” Well, we’ve had the same team all year, and pretty much for the last two seasons we haven’t had a low post scorer. The last one we had was Eddy Curry. I think we’re used to it. It definitely would help obviously, but it’s not an option, so we have to make use of what we have.
After winning Game 4, it would have been natural to wonder what might have been if we had held on to that 19 point lead in Game 3, then we could have evened up the series but personally I haven’t thought that way. Sure the series would have been a lot different, but right now it’s 3-1 and we have to go into their building and try to win another one.
Those guys, Chauncey and Rip, they’re experienced. Chauncey is a seasoned vet. He is a lot smarter as far as his approach to the game, and as a pair, they’re All-Star players that can beat you in a lot of ways. Chauncey is real crafty. You never know what he is going to do. Sometimes it looks like he is just running the offense, but at any given moment he can try and take the game over offensively. We always have our hands full with those guys.
Some people might see it as shocking that Chris Webber has gone scoreless over the last two games, but personally, I don’t think he is the focal point of their offense. Those couple games he killed us, guys were caught off guard. He’s not typically one of their usual scoring suspects. I think the Pistons will probably try to get Webber going a little bit more knowing that when he has a great game, they have success.
The Pistons are definitely looking to get this series over with as they were for Game 4. We have to continue to do what we did on Sunday which is be aggressive, attack those guys, and just try to stick to what was helping us win. Every time they step on the floor they are looking to win. The first two games, we really didn’t show up, so we can’t have that type of thing happen again. Like I said, we have nothing to lose. Time to leave it all on the court Tuesday night.
Posted by Ben Gordon on May 2, 2007 at 3:56 p.m. CT
Beating the Heat was a big accomplishment for us. The group of guys we’ve had here over the last few years, we’ve made it to the playoffs, but we’ve never been able to get out of the first round. So for us to win in the fashion that we did, sweeping the world champs, it was a big accomplishment for us. It showed a lot about our character and our maturation level over the last few seasons. I don’t think we would have been able to sweep a team like that the last few years. It shows that we made a lot of progress.
Gordon averaged 25.5 ppg, 5.5 apg, 5.3 rpg and 1.25 spg as the Bulls swept the Heat in the first round.
We worked really hard and it was just frustrating to not be able to get by that first opponent every year. This year our attitude is totally different. We know that we want to advance far into the playoffs. We want to try and win a championship. That’s why we’re really excited about the way we played against Miami. It really didn’t matter what opponent we faced in round one. Winning that round, that was something that we wanted to accomplish for ourselves.
After the game the Heat just wished us luck and congratulated us on the way we played. That showed a lot about them as far as their character and their being able to congratulate us during what I’m sure was a very disappointing time for them. I really respected that about the Miami Heat. Those guys are a class act.
Facing the Pistons is going to be a very tough series. The Detroit Pistons are one of the best executing teams in the NBA. We are going to have to be on our toes.
And you know Ben playing against his old team is another game within itself. He hasn’t really talked about it much to us. It is just one of those things that goes without saying. Ben is going to be real hyped for this series. He said it in one of his postgame interviews that he couldn’t have drawn it up any better for him to be going against his old team. It kind of speaks for itself. I’m sure he is relishing this moment and this series more than any other one because he is playing against his old team. Both fives want to win, so it is going to be real interesting.
The Pistons are a team that can beat you in so many ways, so it’s really just sticking to our game plan. We have a lot of key things that if we want to win this series, we’ll have to get accomplished. Knowing that they are a great team, they are going to make adjustments. They have a very good halfcourt offense, kind of methodical in the way they run things, but they are very efficient. They are an underrated transition offense. They don’t run a lot, but when they do, they usually capitalize off that. For us, we have to keep our turnovers down and make them work for everything they do out there. You don’t want to give a team like Detroit easy baskets off turnovers.
The Pistons and Bulls rivalry has been one of the best rivalries in the NBA. MJ was always going up against the Pistons, and for a couple of years, he couldn’t get past them. I remember people telling me that he really started to hit the weights because the Pistons had no lay-up rules and stuff like that when they played Chicago. He would always be getting up off the ground. He really dedicated himself to the weight room and the Bulls started a thing called the “Breakfast Club” where he had his teammates working out with him in the summertime so those guys could be prepared for when they were in the playoffs the next season. It must have been a really intense rivalry for guys to go into the offseason thinking about how they have to be physically and mentally ready for the next time they played the Pistons.
There has been some talk about Luol Deng having asked me about playing for the British National Team. Truthfully, I haven’t really talked to Luol about it since the summertime. It is something I would consider. I wouldn’t say yes or no right now, but it’s something I would have to look at and see what the best decision for me is. That said, if the U.S. were to ask me to play, I would have to consider that as well. However, I like having my summers off and being able to work on my game, so if I didn’t play for any of those teams, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
Posted by Ben Gordon on April 25, 2007 at 4:57 p.m. CT
Through the first two games of our series against Miami, but really throughout the whole season, the international guys – Luol Deng, Andrés Nocioni, and Thabo Sefolosha – have been the ones who have really lifted this team up. You look at Luol from the Sudan, Andrés from Argentina, and Thabo from Switzerland, all of them have had key contributions at very critical times in the game that have put us over the hump. It hasn’t been your usual suspects. It is always good to have an x-factor in playoff basketball.
Gordon and the Bulls are heading to Miami with a 2-0 advantage.
Luol has been having a great year, a breakout season. By no means is he a best kept secret anymore. He is an opportunistic scorer. That is what Pat Riley calls him and I thought that was a great way to describe him. He is just one of those guys who always finds a way to slither in there and get a lay-up or if a guy is too far off him, he has that great midrange shot. He runs the floor really well. You just never know how he is going to score and when. His game has been key to us playing so well in the first two games.
Andrés is picking up right where he left off before getting hurt. He is coming in and shooting the trey ball for us, he is rebounding, and doing a good job defensively. He is something that we missed while he was out all that time. It’s great to have him back and he’s played well for us so far.
Thabo is a guy a lot of people don’t know a lot about because he hasn’t played a lot of minutes this year, but he is one of the most versatile players on the team. He is one of those guys who can play the one through the three. He can defend three or four positions. He just has a wealth of talent and I think throughout these playoffs he has shown just a fraction of the things he can do.
We’re heading down to Miami tomorrow afternoon. Guys are going to have to do the same things and be a lot sharper because we won’t have our home crowd behind us. Miami is down two, so they’re going to be playing extremely hard. We’ll have to try to be as sharp as possible and be ready for them. I think I have done a decent job of taking what the defense is giving me. I’m just trying to do more than one thing out there. I try to rebound, I try to get guys open shots, I try to be as aggressive as I can offensively, so it’s been paying off for me.
Something that stood out to me from Tuesday’s game was the fact that I didn’t shoot any free throws. I would like to see us as a team overall draw more fouls and get to the free throw line because you can’t expect to shoot that well (55%) every single night. Getting to the free throw line is a big part of putting points on the board.
It is tough to tell if Dwyane Wade is fully healthy or not because I know he just had the shoulder thing, but at the same time he still requires so much attention. I look at him as being maybe 90 or 95 percent. Guys like Thabo and Kirk have been doing a really good job on him, so I can’t really tell if he’s struggling with the shoulder. I haven’t really heard him say much about it, but he’s still very tough to guard and very tough to stop.
Do we want to beat the Heat? Yes, of course but we really want to get out of the first round. We’ve been stuck here the first two years with the group of guys that have been together. It is big for us to do that. The last couple years we were known as the “Baby Bulls” and all that stuff, so just for the evolution of the team and the players, it would be a great sign if we can get out of the first round against the defending champs.
They are on their home floor, so I’m assuming they’ll play a lot better there. Just the circumstances of the series, they’re going to come out and leave everything on the floor from start to finish. We just have to be ready. We can’t be surprised or taken back on our heels because they come out playing so hard.
Posted by Ben Gordon on April 17, 2007 at 4:27 p.m. CT
It’s been a long season and I’m excited to get the playoffs started, but we have to take care of business with one more game left. I am definitely not overlooking the Nets. We have a chance to lock up the two seed and get our 50th win, which was a goal of ours early on in the year.
Gordon's Bulls will take on Kidd's Nets in the regular season finale.
Truthfully, I don’t really care who we play. Once you get into the playoffs, whoever you go up against, you have to be ready. The teams we have a possibility of facing, they’re all tough teams. I am just concerned with the way we play. If we play to our capabilities, we can beat anybody.
Preparation during the playoffs definitely changes. You are keyed in on one opponent. You watch a little bit more film than you would in the regular season, try and get an idea of what they like to do and how you can stop it, and what to expect from the other team. The mental aspect of the game comes into play a lot more because guys aren’t going to allow you to do the things you’ve been doing all year. You have to come up with different ways to counter what they throw at you.
I would say Tyrus Thomas more than anybody else from our team is our X-factor just because of the way he can impact our team in our system. He gives Big Ben a great amount of help as a weak side help defender and he finishes with the best of them in the league when he is on the offensive end. The more he can help us in the playoffs, the better off we’ll be.
We definitely feel like we can reach The Finals. We have shown that we can beat tough teams; it’s just a matter of executing our game plan, being there for each other and playing to the best of our abilities. Some people might say that our lack of a low post scorer is going to really hurt us. Right now, we’re concerned about working with what we have and I think we have great perimeter players. We have big guys that can defend the post. The strength of our team is sharing the basketball, trying to get out in transition and get some easy baskets and rely on our perimeter.
By now most have you saw or read about our recent game against the Knicks where they accused us of running up the score. Truthfully, they were the first team I heard all year complain about the score. Last time I checked basketball was a competitive game, and if you have a chance to blow somebody out, you blow them out. I really don’t have any sympathy for whatever they were talking about.
At the end of the game, all of our starters were out and we had guys in there who don’t play as many minutes, so you can’t be mad at those guys for going hard. It’s a professional game. I don’t know why they were mad. I don’t think the Big Mac was the main reason. I just think guys were out there playing. Every time we came down court, no one was thinking, OK, we’re going to get the fans a Big Mac.
That’s not how it goes. Guys are out there competing. When you’re on the court, you want to look good in front of coach because you know that might get you more minutes next game. I think the guys who were complaining on the Knicks were just sore losers.
Now that the regular season is almost over, there has been talk of us possibly getting a pretty good draft pick because of the trade the Knicks made to get Eddy Curry last year. I think the people in the front office are more concerned with that that we are. Us as players, we’re just going out there trying to do what we can control. That really hasn’t crossed my mind. In the offseason when people are talking about it, you’re forced to think about what it could be like if we land a great pick and swap with the Knicks. Until then, it’s not an important thing on my mind.
I say Dirk gets my vote for the MVP this year all day because they have the best record in the NBA. He is the best player on that team. Without Dirk, I don’t think what they are doing now would even be possible. That is an easy one.
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 29, 2007 at 1:30 p.m. CT
Thursday night’s game against the Pistons is going to be a real good measuring stick for us just to see how we match up against them since the last time we played them at their place. That game we had a 16-point lead but we just couldn’t keep the lead and finish them off. I think we made something like three shots over a 10-minute stretch spanning the third and fourth quarter. Hopefully if we get in that position again, we’ll be able to have a different outcome. With them leading the pack right now, a win would be a great accomplishment for us. As always, we just need to come out and play with a lot of energy and compete from the opening tip.
Expect the next few games for Ben Gordon and the Bulls to have a playoff-like atmosphere.
Detroit has guys that have been playing together for a long time now and as a result, their chemistry is great. Everybody pretty much plays their role to a tee and nobody ever deviates from that. They’re one of those teams who have a knack for taking the game over when they need to and always seem to be playing under control and poised. A lot of that is due to their point guard play with Chauncey. He really gets those guys going and makes them a really tough team to beat, especially come playoff time.
I think the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference is still realistic with us only a game-and-a-half behind Cleveland. Obviously we have to win as many of these games as we can and we need some other teams to lose. It can definitely happen, but it’s going to take some good luck and some good basketball.
We can do a lot to help our cause when the Cavs come to Chicago on Saturday. We got them last time at their place which was a really big win for us because we hadn’t beaten them in a while at the Q. LeBron is playing his best basketball of the season, he’s making everybody over there better, and they’ll be coming in seeking some revenge. A win would not only get us closer to that two spot, but it would put that much more pressure on them knowing we’re right on their heels.
Both of these games, against Detroit and Cleveland, are going to be playoff-type games. We’ll be playing on our sold-out home court in front of our fans who you know are going to be jacked up. I can’t wait.
Finally, if you’re looking for my thoughts on the Final Four, you’re going to have to go somewhere else because I am boycotting the whole thing. UConn didn’t even make the tournament, so I’m a little bit salty about that. I can’t make it through a whole game, so I just watch the highlights. I guess you can say I’m bitter.
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 22, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. CT
Taking on Denver tonight is a big game. You always have to come out and play with a lot of energy. There are a few things as far as our game plan that we’ll have to do. They like to get out and run on the break. Our transition D is going to be real important and obviously our man-to-man defense since they’ve got two of the best scorers in the game with Melo and AI. If we stay on those two things we should be fine. But that duo is dangerous any way you look at it. Even when they’ve been losing, they’ve been playing well together. AI got there halfway through the season, so I think it takes a little bit of time for them to get used to each other. They’ve been figuring out how to win lately, taking their last five in a row.
Ben Gordon and the Bulls are fighting for the best possible playoff seed as the season winds down.
I mean, just look at Indiana. They made that deal for Mike Dunleavy and Troy Murphy and they haven’t been able to put anything together. I don’t know why they’ve struggled so much. When we played them, they were fresh off the trade and they played pretty well and beat us. I really can’t explain their lack of success.
The team was just tired, plain and simple when we lost to the Clippers. It happens through the course of the season. Guys were out there playing hard, but at certain points in the game, it seemed like we couldn’t muster enough energy to get things done. Energy and effort is really important on a night to night basis and that night we lacked it and they took it to us.
At this point in the season with 13 games left, we just want to win every game. When teams ahead of us lose, like Cleveland and Detroit did recently, we have to understand it’s even more important to get a win and capitalize on their losses. And the way Miami has been playing as of late and moving up in the standings, we need to be moving up too so they don’t catch us.
Recently I got a new pair of anaconda Air Force Ones, made in Italy from real anacondas, you know, the snakes. They retail at like $2,000. All white. I guess they must have dyed the skin. They’re mean and vicious. These are low top, regular walking sneakers. I don’t wear them to the game or play in them. They’re an extremely limited, exclusive edition that Nike put out. At that price, they’re for people that really, really love to collect shoes. Since I’m a Nike guy, they know what I like, so they sent me a pair. That’s how it usually works. Or if I find out about a product first, I’ll ask them about it. But I haven’t worn the anacondas yet. I usually like to put them away until I find the right moment to bring them out. You don’t want to be introducing an exclusive pair like these just to go to the corner store. You have to do it right.
I keep track of all the shoes I own in my head. There have been times where I thought I was missing a pair, and people will tell me that I’m crazy, that I’m not missing anything. But I know. Sooner or later, a box will turn up somewhere and they’ll be like, man, how did you know that? One pair missing out of all the sneakers I have might not seem like a big deal, but I just have this connection with my shoes. They’re part of my soul (no pun intended).
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 16, 2007 at 10:05 a.m. CT
We’re on a nice little roll right now at 39-28 having won our last four. This is actually the most games over .500 that we’ve been all season, which is what you want as a team when you are getting closer to the playoffs. Our schedule over the next couple of games is favorable – we play Memphis, the Clippers, Denver, Indiana and Portland – so we really want to capitalize on this and make sure that we don’t drop games that we feel we should win.
Gordon and the Bulls will be back in the green uniforms on Saturday in Memphis.
Memphis is a team that has been struggling all year and they’re actually one of the teams people were mentioning that I could be traded to. They’ve got talent, but they’re young and it has shown in their record. We’re not underestimating them, but that is a game we definitely think we should go in and get. The other teams like the Clippers and the Nuggets, they are two teams that have beaten us already. Even though they are different teams from when we saw them last, we still have a bit of payback on our minds.
The Clippers, in particular, have really struggled after making the playoffs last year. Right now they wouldn’t be in action if the playoffs started today. I know sometimes when you have a really good year like they did last year, the next year, teams are expecting you to be good and they’re a little better prepared for you. I remember my rookie season, we came out and we shocked a lot of people and we ended up playing really well that year, pushing the Wizards to six tough games in the playoffs. Then the next year, people knew we were a good team so they were ready for us and we didn’t do as well. Sometimes it’s just hard to come out and shock people because they know what you’re capable of. That would be my explanation for L.A. this year.
Denver is a team that has surprised me a little bit. When they made the trade for AI, they were really desperate for someone to come in and keep the team going without Carmelo there. I thought it was a great idea at the beginning to get those two together, and I still think it can work, but maybe they still need more time to gel. If you look at their individual numbers, it seems like they’ve been playing well together, but they’re obviously struggling in other areas of the game.
I think we can put to rest that talk of LeBron James struggling. The Cavs have been playing great lately and LeBron is doing what everyone expects him to do. I couldn’t understand how LeBron had been taking criticism all year because he was still putting up great numbers. Maybe his points were down a few, but he was just trying to get his teammates involved and do what it took to win this season as opposed to going after stats. Now he is starting to pick it up going into the playoffs. You can’t ask any more from a guy than to be playing his best basketball at this time of the year.
Last year they surprised some people. This season, they’re even better.
Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to catch that crazy Phoenix-Dallas game on Wednesday, but I saw that it went two overtimes. Anytime you have Nash and Dirk going at it, it is going to be good. Those are two of the top MVP candidates right there. If I had to choose one right now, I would have to go with Dirk just because of the dominance Dallas has had in the NBA this season. I don’t think any of it would be possible without Dirk. You can say that about Steve and the Suns too since he is pretty much the sparkplug for that whole offense, but I would still go with Dirk.
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 7, 2007 at 4:23 p.m. CT
That game the other night against Milwaukee was one of those games that you can’t help but enjoy. When your opponent is going shot-for-shot with you like Michael Redd was, it is just fun out there on the court. Forty-eight points wasn’t just my NBA career high, it was my basketball career high. I had never scored that many points in a game -- ever. But I wasn’t just shooting to shoot. We needed every single one of those points and the most important thing was that we got the win at the end of the night. It was an important game for us.
Gordon and the Bulls face a tough back-to-back in Florida this week.
We’re in the five spot right now, but we’re only a game behind Cleveland for the No. 2 seed in the conference and have a chance to put ourselves in a great position. Right now I feel I’ve got a good flow going, but, at this time of the year, I basically need to be playing well all the time.
When it comes to thinking about the playoffs and our positioning, the coaches think about it more than us. Really the only thing we can do as players is focus on what we can control, which is our playing and the energy we bring every night. As a team we’ll speak about where we stand in our conference and our division every few games, but it’s not a main focus for us. We just focus on what we can control – our playing and our energy – and that’s what we bring every night. As a team, we’ll speak about it every few games just to keep it in the back of our minds.
We’ve still got three games left on this road trip with Miami our next stop. Everyone always likes to say that Shaq is slowing down, but the 31 and 15 he put on the Pistons the other night showed that he is still arguably the most dominant player in the game when he wants to be and with D-Wade rehabbing to get back in the lineup, it seems like Shaq has that in his mind. And don’t be fooled, the Heat are still a really tough team. I wouldn’t count them out of the playoffs or anything. They’re still the defending champs.
Then if Big Ben didn’t have his hands full with Shaq, he’ll have to try and keep Dwight Howard in check on Thursday when we play the Magic. Dwight is really something, man. He’s one of those guys who wants to be a great player. Actually I heard him say he wants to be the best player ever. Whenever you have a young guy like that who wants to put the work in, wants to learn, and has the talent and physical abilities that he has, the sky is the limit. Hard to believe he just turned 21.
When we’re on the road, I am pretty boring. I basically just stay in my room and watch the games of whoever is playing that night. I really don’t like to do too much except get my rest, get ready for the game and stay focused. If you’re a person that likes to party, it’s definitely there for you if you want it, but that hasn’t ever been my thing even though we do go to a lot of nice cities. Miami and Los Angeles are my favorites, but I love when we head to New York since it’s my hometown.
Finally with March Madness coming up, I had to talk about my UConn Huskies even though we haven’t been playing too well this year. It’s OK, though; we’ve got a really young team that’s rebuilding. I know Coach Calhoun will have the team back where they need to be in the near future.
Posted by Ben Gordon on March 3, 2007 at 12:20 p.m. CT
I shouldn’t really say that I am sneaker collector because I eventually wear most of mine, but I like sneakers a lot. I probably have about 300 to 400 pairs, all Nike though. That is the only thing I wear since I am a Nike athlete. I have all types of unique Nike kicks.
When I signed with Nike, I got to go to the official offices in Beavertown, Oregon. They took me around the campus and I got to talk to some of the designers and everything. I asked them how they come up with some of their ideas and concepts. Obviously they get them from a lot of different things. Sometimes it might be an old TV show or a favorite character, other times it could be a unique picture from a magazine. Then they bring those ideas to life by designing a shoe to fit those visions. At the time I think they showed me LeBron’s shoe. Overall, it was a real cool experience. I haven’t been back since, though, because whenever we are in Portland, I usually don’t have time to get over there. Maybe sometime in the summer.
I usually try and put on a new pair of sneakers at least every other game. It is important for me that my feet feel good. Usually I am cutting and making sharp turns, so I need something that is going to give me some stability and comfort. Nike has a custom shoe for me that I wear. They’ll send out maybe two or three dozen at a time and I’ll just give them a call when my supply is getting a little low. Then they’ll send another couple boxes. It is pretty easy. They know how often guys need shoes, so they do a good job of supplying everyone with sneakers on time.
After I wear a pair, I usually just put them in my garage and save them. I’ll have people come to me that need a few pairs for charity or an auction. The Bulls have their CharitaBulls, which I give some to. I put some on my website. So I always hold onto my sneakers.
In no particular order, my top five Nike designs:
1) Air Force Ones – Number one on the list right there, but they have to be white on white. You can wear those with any outfit, man. You can wear them with a tuxedo. You can wear them to your wedding. Where I come from, you can only wear them one time. I know it’s a little silly, but being that the shoe is completely white, it doesn’t look the same when you wear them multiple times because they pick up a lot of dirt. You always want to have them looking really nice and fresh.
2) The Penny Hardaways – They were a foam posite shoe, all royal blue with the clear bubble gum sole and no Nike check on the side. That was one of the illest shoes I have ever collected. They recently came back out, so I got another pair.
3) The very first pair of Air Jordans – They were all red and black. When he came out with those, he would get fined every game that he wore them because they went against the uniform rules. That was a classic shoe.
4) The Air Max 95s – Another classic
5) Air Force 25s – Of course I had to plug the shoe I am wearing now. It’s a real comfortable shoe.
Bottom line, I take pride in a nice sneaker.
I saw a couple of the replays of his injury and I felt bad for him. You never want to see a fellow player get injured because it is something we all fear. It’s just an unfortunate situation, but at the same time, I don’t think it is career-ending, so that is a positive. I think he should just take care of it. If surgery is the best step long term, then have the surgery. Especially for someone that is as talented as him who has already won a championship, there is not much more he can do right now. If it was me, I would take the most precautionary measure to make sure that I could come back and that it wouldn’t happen again. This is the time of the year when the Heat usually make their run. They started off a little slow last year and then they made a surge into the playoffs. Without Dwyane, I’m not sure they can do that. Obviously he is the main person who helped start that thrust. Without him, it is going to be difficult to do that again.
We feel good. I’ve been saying it all season, but we want to hit our stride and get on a winning streak, maybe run off double digit wins. We still have our eye on winning 50 games. That means we would have to go 17-5 the rest of the season, but we think it is an attainable goal. The key is putting together some streaks.
Posted by Ben Gordon on February 22, 2007 at 10:55 a.m. CT
We’re getting close to that 3 p.m. trade deadline [on Thursday] and I don’t really know what is going to happen. Guys here with the Bulls aren’t dwelling on it too much. So far, nothing has happened. I’m thinking that I’ll be staying put since nobody has said anything to me yet. Until I hear something, I have no reason to think that I’ll be involved, at least I hope not. But it really hasn’t deterred my focus. Anytime I hear something about the trade deadline, I try to focus more on the game. So it has actually helped me focus a little bit more, enjoy my teammates and go out there and have fun. When it passes it will be as if there never were any rumors. I wouldn’t mind, though, adding a consistent low post scorer. That is the only thing we’re really missing.
The trio of Gordon, Pippen and Dupree just missed taking home the Shooting Stars crown on All-Star Saturday night. (Lisa Blumenfeld/NBAE/Getty Images)
This past weekend wasn’t my first time participating in All-Star festivities since I had been part of the Rookie/Sophomore game in both 2005 and 2006, but this time was probably my best All-Star experience. It was a lot of fun. I got know some of the players a little bit better while enjoying all the different competitions and then the game on Sunday.
We had a chance to win the Shooting Stars competition, but my trigger finger was itching a little bit and I shot a little too early. It looked like both mine and Candice’s basketball hit the rim at the exact same time. Once it left my hand, I knew I had shot out of turn, but then when both of the basketballs hit the rim, we couldn’t tell whose went in or not. So we kept going on to the next spot. Then we looked at the tape and saw that mine went in before Candice’s. It was disappointing, but at the same time we had a lot of fun still. It was real cool playing with Scottie Pippen. He’s a top 50 guy and to see him out there and being part of a competition with him, that is something I’ll remember for a long time. Candice is a real nice girl too. Hopefully when their season starts I’ll be able to go and root them on a little bit.
I think Tyrus was a little nervous in the Slam Dunk contest. It was his first competition. Hopefully he can get invited back and have a better outing. Gerald Green had some really nice dunks. I thought he was out there with a lot of energy. He and Paul Pierce were probably the most charismatic of the group. They were out there entertaining people a little bit after each of their dunks, so I thought it was a nice dunk contest win for them.
I was able to attend the Legends Brunch which was a great experience for me. I think I might have been the only active player there. I just wanted to go and pay my respects to all those guys that paved the way for us and meet a few of them individually. I got to take some pictures. Actually I took pictures with so many guys that I can’t remember all of them. Of course I got a few with Dr. J and George Gervin. I enjoyed it a lot.
We got back to business on Tuesday night by beating Atlanta. Our goal for the rest of the way is to be able to bring it every night. We don’t want to have any lapses during any of our last 27 games. We have a tough schedule coming up this week with two back-to-backs and four games in five nights. It is going to be very important just finding a way to win every night. When guys’ shots aren’t falling we have to be able to do the rest on the defensive end to make it up. That is our main focus right now, especially with a game against Detroit over this next stretch.
Going to Detroit to take on the Pistons Sunday will be tough. I’m not going to lie. They are playing their best basketball right now. If we want to catch them, we have to get on a really good winning streak, especially when we see them. We have to develop a winning streak starting now.
Posted by Ben Gordon on February 1, 2007 at 12:02 p.m. CT
We’re one game down with six more to go on this road trip, and we had hoped to get off to a little better start last night in L.A. We were in a position to win against the Clippers and had a nice comeback after being down 16. We tied it up, but we made too many mistakes and couldn’t hit our shots when we needed them the most. You're going to have nights like that; you just have to fight through. We missed out on a lot of opportunities, and I had some terrible turnovers down the stretch that really hurt us. But we’ll be ready to play on Friday in Seattle.
Gordon recently had a stretch where he scored 30+ points in three of four games.
Right now all we can do is to stick to our game plan on this trip. We don’t want to make some of the same mistakes we made earlier in the year, when we went out west and clearly did not play our best basketball. We want to focus on being sharp and playing hard. If we can do those things, I think we’ll do well.
We want to come home and say this was a successful road trip. Coach Skiles always tells us to put more weight into how we play rather than the result of the game. In essence, I think it will be a successful trip if we can go out and be as flawless as we can be and play our style of basketball. If we can be tough on defense, rebound the ball and share the ball, that’s Bulls basketball and we’ll win our share of games. Even if we don’t win as many games as we’d like, we’ll have nothing to hang our heads about if we play the style we need to play.
Before Wednesday night, we hadn’t played since the Miami game in Chicago on Saturday. We had a couple really good practices where we were able to get ready and prepared for the road trip. More than anything, Coach Skiles has instilled in us the importance of being sharp night in and night out and getting the job done on the road. We’ve had a lot of success at home this season, and we want to bring that same kind of energy and effort on the road with us. That’s been our Achilles heel this year, getting wins away from home. Improving on that is a focus for us right now.
This time of year, our work primarily revolves around what we need to improve on. We cut all the fat out of the practices that we had earlier in the season, and we concentrate on what is really necessary to get better. There is more of a focus now on ways to get sharper on offensive execution, tightening up on defense, and things of that nature. At this point in the year, whatever we do, we do it at full speed and we go at it hard. Practices might not always be as long, but they are as intense as they can be.
Everyone knows that the Western Conference has better teams than the East from top to bottom. But at the same time, I think that the top-notch teams from the East can definitely compete on any given night with the best teams in the West. That’s something we want to prove on this trip when we go against some of these teams. We need to show we belong with the NBA’s elite, and we’ve done that so far at home this season. On the road, though, is a different story, which again is why we want to have a good showing these next two weeks. Our wins over Dallas and San Antonio in January tell us we can beat those kinds of teams if we play our style of basketball. That is something that can go a long way for us when we are on trips like this. Whether or not we’re going to compete is not the question; it’s more about us coming in with a mindset that we can win a lot of these games.
For me, I feel like I’m playing the best basketball of my career right now. I’ve grown as a player and I’ve become more mature. The game hasn’t become any easier, but I’ve become more experienced and that’s a big thing in this league. I’ve got a better feel for what to do out on the court, and that helps in how I play and how I can help my team win. They announce the All-Star reserves tonight on TNT, and I really hope I get the call. We’re one of the best teams in the East, so it would be nice for a few guys on the team to make it. We’ll see what happens, but it would be a huge thrill to make the team. I’ll actually be in Vegas that weekend either way since I’m one of the player reps for the Bulls. The NBA Players Association hosts meetings so I’ll attend those… but hopefully I’ll be on the court, too.
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 25, 2007 at 2:55 p.m. CT
Tonight we host the Dallas Mavericks, and matching up against the best team in the NBA is never easy. This is going to be a really good measuring stick for us. They have arguably three All-Stars on their team with Dirk, Josh Howard and Jason Terry. But we showed we can play with the best teams in the Western Conference when we beat San Antonio last week. That’s our goal again tonight, to play a big-time game against a big-time team.
Hearing his name circulated in trade talk is nothing new to Ben Gordon.
Dirk is basically a seven-foot guard, which poses a bunch of different threats and match-up problems for teams on a nightly basis. See him play point against the Magic on Tuesday? What did he have, something like seven assists—in the first half?! Crazy. Dirk and the Mavs are on a mission this season after getting to the Finals last year and coming so close before losing to Miami. That’s probably the biggest factor in why they’ve been so tough to stop this season—they’re driven and they have a purpose. I would too if I had come that close to a title and missed.
Trade rumors are something that I have been exposed to over the last couple of seasons since I've been in Chicago, so the recent talk is nothing new to me. It’s tough, but you just have to focus on the game and the situation that you’re in right now. It doesn’t make any sense to worry about things I can’t control, like the trade rumors with me and Pau Gasol. I can only control what I do out there on the basketball court. That is the easiest way of me handling it.
Right now, my main concern is Dallas and that's tonight. I’m not thinking about the rumors. Everybody is definitely cognizant of them, but it’s counterproductive for us to focus on them. As a team, we try to avoid talking about all the speculation. I would definitely like to stay in Chicago. I’ve been here and been a part of the rebuilding process. If we can continue to develop the young players and the nucleus we have and add a piece each season to get better, we can win a championship. That's my main goal while I’m on this team, which I hope is for many more years.
Would I like Pau on the team? Of course. He's a guy who can score consistently night-in and night-out in the low post and that is something that we’re missing. Yet he does a lot more than score. He can rebound and would serve as a nice complement to Big Ben who can really defend and rebound. I know having Pau on the team would make the game a lot easier for me too. As someone who demands a double team, Pau would give me a lot more open looks. Guys wouldn’t be able to focus on me as much.
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 19, 2007 at 3:45 p.m. CT
Taking a look at the Western Conference standings and seeing teams like Phoenix and Dallas with single digit losses, it really makes me think even more how the East is up for grabs, a thought that I think a lot of teams in the Eastern Conference are thinking. That’s why I think Milwaukee, Detroit and Indiana all made moves recently – they all think they can make a push and get in the playoffs. There just isn’t one dominant team.
Gordon has averaged 23.6 points and 4.1 assists over his last 10 contests (games through Jan. 17).
We’re still one of the better teams in the East. All teams are always looking to get better if they can, so I’m sure if an opportunity presented itself, our front office would do what they have to do. Although I think we have enough pieces, another great player wouldn’t hurt. We’re focused on catching Cleveland right now, but anything can happen. Here’s my take on the moves our Central Division rivals made.
I don’t know if Chris Webber is going to make much of a difference for the Pistons. I don’t seem him replacing the things done by Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess or even Nazr Mohammed, so it will be interesting to see how they fit him into that lineup, especially now with Chauncey back after missing the last nine games. But the guy has been 20 and 10 for his whole career, so if he has anything left, they could be tough.
I wasn’t really surprised by the Pacers trade with Golden State. Indiana has been having a lot of problems and turmoil over the last few years. Both teams benefited, but I definitely think Indiana got better. They added some more solid guys on the front line to help out Jermaine O’Neal. They got a guy who can do the point forward thing in Mike Dunleavy. By trading away Sarunas Jasikevicius, they really don’t have a back up point guard, so Jamaal Tinsley will have the ball in his hands even more. He is one of the better guys in the league at setting people up for easy baskets, which will make them a more dynamic team.
I have never seen anything like what has happened in Milwaukee with three of the team’s best players – Michael Redd, Mo Williams and Charlie Villanueva – injured in the same time frame. It is a real unusual situation there. Earl Boykins is really going to help them and when all those guys get back and get healthy, they’ll be a very good team. I’m glad we already played them three times, but the next time we play them, they’ll be back to full strength.
Posted by Ben Gordon on January 16, 2007 at 2:50 p.m. CT
There are a handful of games left this month where we’ll go up against the best teams in the league. It’s our chance to prove we can play with those elite teams, whether they are in the Eastern or Western Conference. Beating San Antonio on Monday only helped boost our confidence. We were a few guys short, but we still came out and executed and got the job done against one of the top teams in the NBA. There’s a good chance that they’ll make another run to the Finals this year, and that’s something we want to compete for as well. So it’s important to play well against the top-tier teams in the league, especially at home. We want to bring our best effort when contenders like Utah, Dallas and Miami are at the UC later this month. One of our goals this season was to play well at home, and so far we’ve done that.
Gordon did something that only one other NBA player has achieved over the last 30 years earlier this year: eclipsing 40 points on two different nights in a reserve role.
Over the last few weeks, we haven’t always done a good job of closing out tight games. That is what it has come down to more often than not. We had been starting off games pretty well for the most part, but then in the fourth quarter we couldn’t hold on to leads. We need to make sure we are sharp late in the game when it’s close to get those wins.
One thing I know is that this group is going to stick together and bounce back from the adversity that we face. Whether it’s a losing streak or playing without guys due to injury, we’re going to go out and battle every night. That’s what this team is about—we aren’t going to give up on each other and we’ll always work to bounce back from a loss or any kind of downfall that we encounter.
There’s been a lot of talk about my role this season: starting at first, then coming off the bench, and back into a starting role the last few games. People make a big deal out of it, but it’s easy for me to handle. I’ve been through similar situations in the past, so I’m accustomed to it. Whatever I’m doing, I just want an opportunity to be on the court and help our team win games. That’s my focus. Stats show that I’ve had more success coming off the bench, but that’s because I’ve played more games with that role. If I become a consistent starter, I’m confident that I will succeed in that role as well.
There’s only a few more days left in All-Star voting, and the guys on this team that would definitely get my vote are Ben Wallace and Luol Deng. I think Luol has easily proven to be one of the best forwards in the East. He’s a completely different player than he was last year and he’s improved in just about every aspect of the game. Big Ben does what he does. There aren’t many players in the league that can compare to what he brings to the court defensively and on the rebounding side of things. To me, he’s a shoe-in. I’d love to be an All-Star, but it’s not necessarily a goal because I can’t control it. It would be a huge honor, though, and I think it’s something that just about every NBA player aspires to achieve. I feel like the numbers I’ve put up make me a candidate, too. We’ll see what happens.
The second half of the season is going to be here before we know it. As we get there, one of our main goals is to be the number one defensive percentage field goal team in the NBA. We’ve done that the last two seasons and we want to make sure we do it again. Other than that, we just want to keep getting better every day. It’s pretty simple. This is still a young team that is continuing to improve game by game, and we’ve yet to play our best basketball. We showed a little bit of what we can do in the month of December, but we’re capable of bigger and better things. We just need to get to a level where we can sustain that kind of play and be ready when the postseason comes.
Posted by Ben Gordon on November 10, 2006 at 11:35 a.m. CT
Our first five games this season have been pretty up and down. We haven’t been nearly as consistent as we need to be, and that’s something we have to figure out. There are a lot of new players on the team this year and with eight new guys, we’ve got to build that chemistry up in order to play at the level we want to play at. I think as we go through the season we’re going to hit some bumps in the road, especially early, but before too long we’ll be firing on all cylinders and be fine.
Gordon recorded 37 points and nine assists versus the Bucks on Nov. 6.
I think that our chemistry is actually further along than people realize. Right now, consistency is the biggest thing for us to achieve. We’ve got guys on the same page, focused on doing the same job at the same time, so that’s not a problem. What we need to do is make sure we’re coming out every night and playing with the same energy. If we can establish ourselves early on in games, we’re going to be in good shape. There have already been a couple games where it was almost as if we waited around and played at the level of our competition and we ended up losing. NBA teams are too good for anyone to do that and think they can get away with it. We need to focus on being consistent throughout entire games and make sure that we’re playing Bulls basketball from beginning to end.
Everyone is always asking us what it’s like to play with Ben Wallace. People know that he’s a dominant defender and a great rebounder and all those things. I feel he’s met expectations in those areas and then some. What I didn’t know is how skilled of a passer he is. He’s definitely helped us get easier looks at the basket. He does a lot of things out there on the court that don’t show up on the stat sheet. But believe me, his teammates recognize it and we know that he’s a really valuable player for us.
This week has been big for us because we’ve gone head-to-head with two of our Central Division rivals with a third this weekend. It’s very important for us to win these games and have a good showing because anytime you go up against a team in your division, you want to bring your best game. We didn’t do that in Cleveland, but we hope to bounce back against Indiana on Saturday. In a way, we’re competing with those guys every night; even though we might not be playing them, we all want to win our division. We need to be better than we were against the Cavs because that is not at all how we’re capable of playing. They had just lost a game to Atlanta, so we expected them to come out with a lot of energy and intensity. We couldn’t match that and the end result was a loss.
Saturday’s game against the Pacers is an important one. We want to get a win on our home court, plus it’s the last home game for a few weeks. We’ve got a tough seven-game road trip coming up and we’ll be facing a lot of difficult teams, especially that Texas triangle that was have to pass through (Dallas, Houston and San Antonio). We’ve had this trip in the back of our minds for a little while, but right now we want to focus on getting a win this weekend.
I’ve had some good games this season and I’ve had some bad ones, but more than anything I’m happy when we are winning. Just like the team, I need to be more consistent. We’ve already given away a couple games this year and that’s a trend we are not going to allow to continue. We’re at a point where we shouldn’t be dropping games that we’re supposed to win. We just have to keep preparing and coming ready to play and I think things will come around for us as a group.
Posted by Ben Gordon on October 13, 2006 at 10:45 a.m. CT
We’ve got eight new faces on the team right now, so we’re going to use our preseason to build our chemistry. It’s something that is very important early on in the season. If we can build that cohesiveness and chemistry, I think everything else will fall into place. Obviously, guys are still learning the plays and things like that, so I don’t expect us to be as sharp offensively as we will be. I’m anxious to see how we look defensively in these early games. We’ve got so many good individual defensive players, and hopefully we’ll be really good as a unit out there. That’s another big area where we hope to accomplish some things during the preseason.
Gordon averaged 16.9 ppg and 3.0 apg for the Bulls last season.
We’ve got a lot of depth this year, and it’s possible the regular rotation could go 10 or 12 players deep, especially given the way Coach Skiles likes to play. He likes his guys to be extremely active defensively, and that takes a lot of energy. He wants to keep guys out on the court who are fresh and can play at a high level throughout the entire game. All of that adds up to a rotation with a lot of guys.
We definitely feel good about training camp. We had a lot of professional guys who know how to compete and how to work. There was a little bit of extra passion there this year. We added some experience to the core players, and the new additions to the team did really well. I was happy with the way it went and feel like it prepared us well for what’s to come.
Coach Skiles gave me credit for getting a lot of defensive rebounds in camp. All I can say is that I guess guys were missing a lot of shots, and I was in the right place at the right time. Really though, I know I can help my team get better this season by getting more rebounds. Anything I can do to help everyone get down the court faster is a good thing.
It was fun going against Thabo Sefolosha in camp. Thabo is very good and he’s a competitor. Obviously, he was a pro before he came here. He’s poised and he’s experienced and he knows how to play the game. He’s very good defensively and he has really long arms. I think he’s got a very good basketball IQ and I expect he’s someone who will help us right away.
One of my goals is to keep evolving as a player. A lot of times, there are different things in your game that you have to find a way to tap into. I believe that I have the skills to do much more than what I’ve done over the past two years. As time goes on and guys get more experienced, they figure out how to better apply their overall game to this high level of basketball. I’m just looking to use the experience I gained in my first two seasons to continue to get better.
One of the things I’m trying to do is get to the free throw line more often. I’m also working to have a more consistent mid-range game. Over the summer, I looked at a lot of other guys around the league and their statistics, and most all of the top scorers get to the line a lot. They shoot as many as ten or more free throws a game, and if not, they’re in the eight or nine [free throws per game] range. If I’m going to become one of the top scorers in this league, then getting to the line has got to become a bigger of a part of my game.
Being an All-Star is definitely something I want to do. But you can’t just set that as a goal and then work for it to happen. So many other things have to fall in place for a player to be selected to that team. Part of it is out of your grasp; it’s in the hands of the fans and the coaches. Your team’s success is also a factor, and that’s what is as important as anything. No matter what, I want to play at an All-Star level and see what happens from there.
As a team, we don’t have any goals that are written in stone yet. We do expect to play well into the postseason, and some guys have talked about the Eastern Conference Finals and things like that. There’s no question we need to get past the first round, and I think that with this group of guys, that is possible. If you look at the way we competed in the playoffs the last few years, we’re right there. Add in some of the new talent that is here now and your expectations are going to be high.
For now, the key is to work on building our chemistry. Guys staying healthy always helps, too. If everybody on this team does their job, we’re going to accomplish some good things this season. Ben Wallace is here now, and he’ll probably be the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year again. We were the best team in the league the last two years in terms of defensive field goal percentage, and we believe you can win a championship with defense. If we can be the best defensive team in the NBA this year, and guys rise to the level of play that they are capable of, anything is possible for this team.