I’d like to thank everybody for listening in to the conference call. I’d like to thank owner Bob Johnson, Michael Jordan, Bernie Bickerstaff and Rod Higgins for having me as a part of the Charlotte Bobcats organization. I’m very honored and excited about this upcoming season and I can’t wait to get out there and start going.
(On his initial reactions about not being favorable to Charlotte)
I wasn’t against going to Charlotte, it was just that I was kind of blind-sided by the trade on behalf of Golden State. After a couple of days of staying away from the phone and not answering any calls, I got to actually look at who was on the team. I thought about all of the young guys that they have and how hard they played when I played against them, and that changed my mind real quickly.
(On not answering his cell phone for Michael Jordan on draft night)
I wasn’t necessarily not answering for Michael Jordan, I wasn’t answering calls for anybody. I didn’t know anybody from the 704 area code, so automatically after the trade happened, I figured it was somebody from Charlotte. I didn’t necessarily think it was Michael Jordan but I knew it was somebody calling on behalf of the Charlotte Bobcats. Ten minutes before the trade happened, my agent told me they were working something out, and 10 minutes after the trade happened, I got a call from Golden State, so it was a quick turnaround period for me. I wasn’t ignoring calls on purpose, I just turned my phone off because a lot of my friends, family and teammates called me and the trade was a big shock to everybody. When I woke up the next day, my voicemail was full and I had close to 50 text messages. There were just too many people calling me trying to figure out what was going on and I had to turn my phone off.
(On if he is ready to be the go-to-guy for the Bobcats and if he believes he can become a superstar in the NBA)
I believe I can be. I had a few good years in Golden State and if we won a few more games, I probably would have been an All Star. I feel like I can be that type of person that can carry a franchise to the next level. I’m not coming in here and looking at this team being mine. Emeka (Okafor) is here and hopefully we’ll get Gerald Wallace back, and this is going to be our team. I don’t think we’re far away from being a playoff contender that can do deep in the playoffs, and can start building toward a championship. So, I’m not coming in here and saying I want all the shots and the spotlight. I’m coming in here and just trying to help this team win games.
(On his impressions of the Bobcats and if he believes they can make the playoffs this season)
I think we can. I remember the last time that we played them in Oakland we were trying to get ourselves in position for a playoff spot, and we had just made a trade for Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington. The first thing that came out of Stephen Jackson’s mouth was, “I’ve played these guys in the East before and we can’t take this team lightly or they’re going to beat us.” And even though we won the game, they came out and played hard. Over the couple of days that I had to think about this team, that is what was stuck in my mind; how hard these guys played on defense and offense, they just never stopped. As a player, that’s what I am. I’m a hard player – I play both ends of the floor. In the NBA, you’re not expected to win every game, but you want to go out there and give it your best effort every night and I think that’s what these guys do.
(On if his relationship with Rod Higgins has made it an easier transition so far)
I think that made it a lot easier. We had a real good relationship in Golden State. I could talk to him about anything out there, so it’s going to make the transition to this team even easier for me. He knows what type of player I am, and I know what type of general manager he is, so I think that relationship will help both of us out.
(On the transition from playing for a veteran head coach in Don Nelson to a rookie in Sam Vincent)
It’s going to be a different transition. Don is the second-winningest coach in the NBA, but Sam came from a winning organization in Dallas, and he saw what it takes to win. He coached a superstar in Dirk Nowitzki and he’s an ex-NBA player, so he knows what it takes to get to the next level. Of course, there are going to be a couple of bumps and bruises in the road, but I’m pretty sure that he’s going to get it real fast because you can tell in his ways and how he is as a person that he wants to win.
(On if him wearing number 23 was because of Michael Jordan)
(Laughter) Yeah, it was. Of course, everybody was a Jordan fan. I was more of a Dominique (Wilkins) fan, but the reason for my 23 is because I used to wear 32 in high school, and once I got to college, 32 was retired by Greg Kelser, so I couldn’t wear that number.
(On if it bothers him that he was a part of the Golden State teams that weren’t that good, then he gets traded when they get to the playoffs)
Yeah, that was one of the problems that I had when I was so angry about what happened. I felt that I gave a lot to that organization at times when it was bad and I wasn’t playing my best, but I stuck around that franchise. It was tough to finally get the team to the level that you always envisioned it to be at by getting to the playoffs for the fans and when you finally make it, you get shipped off. But it’s part of the business and I understand that, trades happen in this league. I’m not mad about the trade because I’m in a situation that could be better for me. This is a solid, up-and-coming organization and it has a lot of great guys on the team, and I think this is the best situation for me right now.
(On if he still feels bad about the way the trade happened)
Of course the way that it happened bothers me, but when it comes down to it, it’s still a business. It happened, it’s over with, I can’t do anything about it, and I can’t sit back and cry about it. I still have a contract, my health, and I’m still on an NBA team, so what more can I ask for?
(On what he has heard from the players on Golden State)
I’ve gotten calls from pretty much everyone. They’re all shocked, they couldn’t believe it. They’re all in disbelief, they didn’t think it would ever happen. I’ve been there so long, all the fans knew me, I played hard for that organization. But we were all like brothers on that team, so we are always going to have a relationship, we’re always going to be cool with each other, and we’re always going to wish each other well, even when we play each other.
(On if he thinks that Golden State is going to miss him)
Not really, they have some good talent there. They have Stephen Jackson there, Monta Ellis is up-and-coming, and they have guys who can fill in the roles.
(On his thoughts of playing in the Eastern Conference)
It’s a pretty wide-open conference. In the West, you already know who the top seven teams are, and everybody else is gunning for that eight spot. Everyone says the East is a lackluster conference, but I don’t look at it that way. I look at it as an opportunity for any team to get there. I think it’s an opportunity for us, we have a chance. I think we were only five games out of the playoffs last year, and hopefully my play can get us over that hump and maybe get a playoff spot.
(On the perception of the Eastern Conference by Western Conference players)
We know that it’s a little bit open. You have so many great players in the Western Conference. You have some great players in the Eastern Conference, but it seems like there is a superstar at every position in the Western Conference, so I think that’s the big difference. In the 1980's, it was always the Eastern Conference that was winning. Once the draft came around and the star players went to the lower teams, the Western Conference started building back up. I think in the near future, it is going to be pretty even. There are star players going from the West to the East like Ray Allen going to Boston and Zach Randolph going to New York. It’s going to even out as soon as the league grows older.
(On how much he has spoken to Sam Vincent)
Sam and I haven’t really spoken much. Today was our first conversation down here in Charlotte. We just had a little small talk, but he’s excited to have me here and I know his style of play is going to be hard-nosed. I don’t really know him as a player, but from his days at Michigan State and hearing from other people, I know he is going to have us playing hard on defense and we’ll probably be running often.
(On what he knows about his supporting cast and how he is going to fit in with the Bobcats)
I think I’ll fit in real well with this team. They have a lot of guys that play hard. Working hard is the first thing that makes a successful team. Emeka Okafor is one of the up-and-coming power forwards in this league. He blocks shots like no one I’ve ever seen, he rebounds, he does everything. They have a young point guard in Raymond Felton that does a lot of things and I think it will help him out if they can sign Gerald Wallace back and have him on one wing and me on the other. So, I think it’s going to be a great opportunity for me to be with this team, and I think we’re going to be pretty good.
(On how vital it is to him that Gerald Wallace is re-signed)
It’s very vital to me. I like Gerald as a person and I know him really well as a player. He’s been in similar situations to me when I was in Golden State. He played hard while the team looked for some help around him. I hope he’s around when this team gets turned around and we get into the playoffs, because I think he’s a huge part of this franchise, and he’s been around during the other transitions of this franchise. We would like to have him around because he’s a hell of a player.
(On having Michael Jordan as a boss)
It’s an honor. To learn from the greatest player to ever play the game and getting his little tips and pointers about how he played the game is an honor in itself. To have him around everyday trying to get this franchise to the next level is going to be amazing.
(On being the franchise’s first big name acquisition)
I don’t think there is any added pressure. I’m just going out here and performing. I’m going to come here, do the job that they want me to do, and just play basketball. I know there is a lot expected of me. I’m going to go out there and give 110 percent like I did the last six years in Golden State. There is no added pressure, I’m just going to go out there, play basketball, and help this team out as much as I can.
(On who changed his mind about his feelings of being a player on the Bobcats)
I don’t think it was anybody directly. I think it was myself just looking at this organization and seeing what they have to offer to myself as far as who they have in the front office and what players they have. My fiancée loves the city and she has friends here. The team has a lot of young guys and they’re only a step away from being a playoff team. The front office, with Rod (Higgins), Bernie (Bickerstaff), the owner Bob (Johnson) and Mike (Jordan), all played a big factor in me saying this is going to be a good fit for myself.
(On if his initial reactions to the trade were more about shock than dismay)
Yeah, it was definitely about shock. Right after the season, I knew that somehow I was going to be the odd man out. But all along, they told me that I wasn’t going anywhere and I was a big part of the franchise’s success. They were telling me this for two months and all of a sudden, I was traded without any knowledge. It was more of a shock than dismay of going to Charlotte. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to Charlotte, I just wasn’t prepared to go there. But in the NBA, you have to be prepared every day, they don’t have to tell you when you’re going to be traded. It was my first time getting traded and I had never gone through anything like that, especially after being a part of the team for six years. I was there from the time that we won 18 games to being the eighth seed in the playoffs. That was a big jump. To finally have the trade go down and be out of here is a shocker to me.
(On what position he seems himself playing)
I’m either a two or a three. I’m ready to do whatever it takes to win games, that’s my main thing. That’s how it was in Golden State, and that’s how it’s always going to be, it’s all about winning. There’s nothing better than the thrill of winning games. If I have to play center, I will, because that’s how much love I have for the game.
(On what he knows about the potential Gerald Wallace signing)
I don’t have any information about that, but when I first got traded, Rod (Higgins) and Mike (Jordan) both said their top priority is signing Gerald. I think they both envision me and him on the wings. It’s going to be a pretty good tandem having me on one side and him on the other. I think that is one of the main priorities of the franchise. I really hope they can get it done because Gerald is a good up-and-coming player and he can help this organization a lot.
(On if he believes that the Bobcats will be a more up-tempo team now rather than in the past)
I’d have to say yes. If we do sign Gerald, we have me, Gerald, a fast point guard (Raymond Felton) and even our power forward (Emeka Okafor) can get up and down the floor. When you have four guys that can get up and down the floor, that makes it easier and it’s more exciting basketball. I think more teams in the East are slowed down compared to the West. We’re young and athletic and hopefully we can be getting up and down the floor.
All I gotta say:
Jason Richardson wrote:Right after the season, I knew that somehow I was going to be the odd man out. But all along, they told me that I wasn’t going anywhere and I was a big part of the franchise’s success. They were telling me this for two months and all of a sudden, I was traded without any knowledge.
It's a business, dude. You got traded. Quit making a personal attack.