Tag:interviews
Posted on: July 13, 2011 12:09 am
Edited on: July 13, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Kevin Love on Rambis, overseas, lockout

Posted by Matt Moore

Kevin Love had himself quite the day on Tuesday. Earlier in the afternoon, his team (which has locked him out along with the rest of the NBPA) fired his head coach, Kurt Rambis, the second coach Love has seen go in his three years in the league. His general manager took to the stage and said a number of bizarro things. Then Love attended the Gatorade Athlete of the Year banquet for the third time. Had himself quite the day, the first-time All-Star and NBA's Most Improved Player for 2010-2011 did. 

Love's one of the more focused guys in terms of his approach to the game, which is part of the reason Gatorade has put him front and center, and you can tell the lockout is grinding on him. 

"Basketball's my first love," Love said via telephone interview Tuesday night. "To have an extended summer, I'm not completely mad at it, but at the same time, this is what I do, basketball's my life." 

Love made it clear that the players are not oblivious to how the lockout which began on July 1st appears to the public. 

"For the fans, with both the NFL and the NBA, not only do they want to see the games on Sundays and Thursday nights for football, but they want to see us. And we know they don't want to see billionaire owners and millionaire players bickering over money." 

But since the lockout is out of his control, Love's going to take a look around at other options to pursue that "first love" of his. After Deron Williams' suprising exodus-in-wait announcement about playing for Besiktas in Europe, the headlines have been flooded with comments and rumors about players possibly headed overseas next year. I told Love I would be the 9,000th person this week to ask him about his plans for playing overseas, and Love made it clear as most players are: nothing is done yet, but the option is being considered. 

"We're definitely checking out our options," Love said. "We're definitely open to hearing from them. I'm going to sit back and wait to see what a lot of the other guys do, but it's definitely intriguing. At the same time, though, I just want the lockout to be settled."

As for Rambis, Love called the firing of the second-year head coach a "tough situation" while also supporting Rambis by saying he expects the former Laker assistant to have another job soon with all his experience. Love also made reference to how the front office approached the situation, a process Ken Berger of CBSSports.com called "embarassing" which was echoed by most who cover or operate in the league's coaching circles. 

"(Rambis) was put in limbo for a while by our front office. They took their time and weighed all their options. Kurt's going to find another opportunity. He's going to get another job soon."

Love has had an embattled relationship with both Rambis and General Manager David Kahn amid subtle comments from Love questioning the direction of the franchise and both the front office and coaching staff's decision to bury him up until the second month of this season -- at which time Love exploded into an All-Star and the Most Improved Player. He set a record for consecutive double-doubles in a season and had a 30-point, 30-rebound game for the first time since Moses Malone. So, yeah, looks like KLove may have been right about that whole "needing more minutes thing." Tuesday night, though, Love said he was hopeful the relationship with his next coach would be better. 

"You always hope for the best," he said. "I want to have a great relationship with whoever coaches the Timberwolves or whoever coaches me throughout my career."

So what kind of coach does Love think the Timberwolves need as one of the youngest in the league, but one that David Kahn says is "through rebuilding?"

"As far as us having a young team," Love said, "we're going to need, I won't say a disciplinarian, but a guy who can teach us how to win and has been there and done that."

Good luck with finding a coach with that kind of resume this late in the game. At the same time, not like there's an upcoming training camp to worry about so maybe the Wolves do have some time. 

While the Wolves figure out their coaching situation and the league sorts out its lockout, Love said he'll be splitting his time between training in Minnesota and southern California where he was born, raised, went to school, and calls home. He'll be training at his former school -- UCLA -- and said he would "definitely" be playing in the infamous pick-up games on campus. He'll also have plenty of time for his charity events and for nights like Tuesday's Gatorade High School Athlete of the Year Awards banquet in Hollywood. 

The award is for the top national high school competitors in twelve sports who excel not only on the field but in the classroom and off the field through charity and community service. The award, which has been given since 1985, is selected based on those who "achieve in the classroom and demonstrate strong character." Winners are selected by a panel of nationwide sportswriters and commentators. Love himself won the award in 2007, and has attended the event as a representative for basketball the past two years. 

So Love had a pretty good time, since he also said Tuesday night he planned on attending again in 2012.

"Every time you can come back to see the new wave of high school athletes, it's great," Love said via telephone interview Tuesday night. "I was here in 2007 accepting it, and seeing the new winners is so rewarding. I'm looking forward to next year as well."

Hey, at least Love knows one thing that'll be happening next year.
Posted on: December 31, 2010 4:19 am
Edited on: December 31, 2010 4:28 am
 

A very Rudy New Year

Rudy Gay is quietly having the kind of season you want your emerging star to have, breaking out not in any one area, but improving in every facet of the game. 
Posted by Matt Moore




It's almost a new year, so perhaps it's time to inform you in case you haven't heard. It's also a new Rudy Gay. 

After signing his five-year, $80 million extension with the Memphis Grizzlies this summer, most wondered if Gay was in any way worth that kind of investment. How could he be? From every measurable standard, he was below star-level. Points, rebounds, efficiency, wins, playoff appearances, the works. Though the Grizzlies showed signs of life last season, they faded down the stretch. Would Gay really improve in the necessary ways to justify that contract and the Grizzlies' future investment in him?

Turns out, he's on his way. And where he is now and where he's headed is a long way from where he started, in Baltimore, Maryland. 

*


It's Christmas time in Memphis, and for once, it feels like it. There's a significant chill in the air on Christmas Eve as the Grizzlies wrap up practice at FedEx Forum. Later it will snow through the night, though of course the warm Tennessee ground won't hold anything but the slightest layer of white. Still, it's got to make the Grizzlies from colder climates even more homesick at Christmas.  They've got a game the night after Christmas in Indiana, their flight departing Christmas Day, so there's no time to get to their respective homes. They'll spend Christmas in Memphis, before hopping on a plane for a hotel as they try and get off their losing streak.

For Gay, missing Christmas is just part of the job. He says that with video chat and all the technology, it's almost like being there. And "there" means quite a bit to him.  Baltimore is notorious in the NBA for two things: being tough and producing ball players. Players talk about Baltimore carefully, trying to manage how tough the environment is with their pride of the system they came out of. For Gay, he has a clear feeling of solidarity with the many players that come out of Charm City.

"The best feeling about being in the NBA is going back to Baltimore," Gay says. "It's a basketball city. There are so many guys that come out of there and try and get to this level. For those of us who do, we're thankful, and we try and stick together."

Part of the tradition of basketball in Baltimore is the AAU Teams.  The AAU circuit in Baltimore is as strong as it is anywhere in the country, and its products have filled the NBA ranks.  The teams also come under scrutiny, as was the case in fellow Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony's Team Melo personnel's involvement with Josh Selby. For Gay, though, AAU was nothing but a positive experience, and he credits the AAU programs in Baltimore for helping kids there stay out of trouble. 

As practice wraps up, the Grizzlies huddle up and chant "1-2-3-Merry-Christmas" before heading for the exits and their respective holiday plans. A few elect to hang out on the sidelines. But Gay and Mike Conley, the player for Memphis who Gay has played the longest with, remain on the floor, shooting and working, getting in extra time. The Grizzlies need it. They've lost three in a row, including an inexcusable loss to the Nets. If ever there was a time for Gay to exert the leadership he's learned as he continues his fifth year in Memphis, now would be it. 

It's not that the Grizzlies have been terrible this season. On Christmas Eve, they're only a game back of where they were last year. But last year they depended on a long winning streak after a terrible opening to recover and make it into the playoff picture before fading late. This year they've toppled the Lakers, the Suns, and the Mavericks, but have also lost to the Nets, the Warriors and the Wizards. It's that kind of inconsistency and playing up or down to their opponent that Gay says is the key to Memphis getting back on track. 
"We're just learning how to play consistently every night. We can't play good against good teams and bad against bad teams. I just want to get this team to that level. I can feel it. We're close."

*


Two nights later in Indiana, they certainly look it. The Grizzlies dominate on both sides of the floor and walk out of Indiana with a 104-90 victory. Merry Christmas, indeed. Gay sets the tone with his best performance of the season, one of the best of his career, with 30 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 steals. The vaunted "stat-stuffer" line. The 30 points is nice, but it's been the total efficiency and productivity where Gay has made strides this season. Sunday night's win is just the jewel in the crown of his improvement in 2010. 

RG is posting career-highs in points, assists, and steals per game, as well as in advanced numbers like assist, steals, and block percentages, and eFG% (percentage factoring 3-point shooting). In essence, he's a more efficient player than he ever has been. His PER is a career high 18.8. You get the feeling that his near-career-high rebound rate (8.9%) would improve if he needed to, but with Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol down low, Gay's priorities are in contributing at every level, "in every column" as his coach says. And it's that total effort that Lionel Hollins says best describes Gay's role. 

"He needs to utilize his talent, and fill the stat sheet like he has. Some nights it will be scoring, some nights it won't. Those other stat columns have to be filled regardless of whether he goes 11-17 or 6-17. I think when he gets to the level where he has an impact on the game even when he's not scoring a lot, that's his role. When you're talented like that, players can think that the fans and media expect them to score a lot of points. But the best player doesn't always score the most points."

Hollins says Gay is also a key for the defense. RG has posted his lowest defensive rating of his career with a 105 score. Far from elite, but a huge step in the right direction.

"When he's engaged, our whole team is engaged," Hollins says.
*
It's Monday night, and time for a dreaded back-to-back, this time against the Toronto Raptors, an up and down team which is missing several key players. Before the game, Gay has that leader swagger going again. He pumps up the music, dances, and raps, but also goes around the room talking to several of the younger players, providing instruction. It's reminiscent of the behavior of another talented stat-stuffing power forward, LeBron James, in pre-game activities. It will not be the last time Gay looks the part of a King-James-type that evening. 

One player that Gay gives extra attention to his rookie point guard Greivis Vasquez. Vasquez attended high school in Maryland and proceeded to attend college at Maryland as well. Gay and Vasquez have what the rookie describes as a "real relationship." Team officials refer to them as "close as any players on the team" and Vasquez credits Gay with taking him under his wing and helping him transition through the rookie process. 

Gay does not talk pre-game, but where's the same quiet, confident look he always seems to adorn as he heads for the floor and yet another moderately-attended game in Memphis. 
*
The Raptors are up eight as the second period begins. The Grizzlies look lifeless. The Raps are starting Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey in the front court due to injuries, and yet they are the team slowing it down and grinding it out in the halfcourt set. Linas Kleiza is giving Gay fits as he rises over him to fire long jumpers. But in the second quarter, something clicks. 

RG's biggest asset? Detonation into transition. And instead of looking for it off the work of his teammates, Gay is again initiating those opportunities. He bursts out to initiate the break, forces the issue, and the offense is off and running towards a 32-point quarter after only scoring 16 in the opening set. The Raptors manage to hang in until the third, when the Grizzlies get Zach Randolph, who is battling with a cold, back on track. He takes over down low, and Gay snags two steals using that athleticism people have raved about since his days at UCONN. He uses it in conjunction with a learned anticipation, the kind of mental improvement that's made such a difference in his game. 

By the time the fourth rolls around, it's all over but the shouting. 

With Hollins completely reversing his game plan, going small instead of big, an unforeseen development reveals itself.  A lineup hits the floor of Darrell Arthur, Marc Gasol, Tony Allen, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay. Gay plays point guard, initiating the offense and acting as the conduit for O.J. Mayo to break open for some buckets. It's a brief indulgence, but one that Gay says they've been working on in practice. 

"Most people who play my position aren't used to guarding a guy running point. It creates mismatches. I enjoy being in that position."

Randolph will get the headlines for taking over in the second half, but it will be Gay who ties his career high for combined assists and steals. He finishes with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 5 steals and 1 block. It's consistent, across the board, and the real foundation for the Grizzlies success. I ask Gay if he thinks the team has turned a corner. 
"I do. We learned something from the Nets loss, but these wins are starting to feel different." 
Much like Gay's season, which is starting to look every bit the part of what the Grizzlies paid for. 

*


Two nights later the Grizzlies will drop a heartbreaker in Sacramento, losing on a desperation half-court heave by Tyreke Evans. Gay will struggle with 6-17 shooting, just 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 1 assist. The Grizzlies for a night have gone back to playing down to their competition. But Gay's body of work has already shown itself. 

It's a new year, and while the Grizzlies' future this year and beyond seems very uncertain, every indication is that Gay has reached that next step. Gay says he's ready, able, and willing to be the star player on a playoff team.

"I always want to be on that stage. I love that stage.  My career has shown that I love to be the type of player that's depended on, and I'm going to continue to do that. "


Posted on: October 8, 2010 4:04 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2010 5:50 pm
 

Brooks thinks the Thunder are coming along nicely

Thunder coach expects difficulty in managing frontcourt versatility, praises Westbrook's leadership growth.
Posted by Matt Moore


Scott Brooks simultaneously has an extremely difficult and conveniently easy gig right now. He's got a top club in the NBA's Western Conference, but operating with a young roster in a small market, expectations aren't through the roof. He's got a high volume of frontcourt depth, but he's got to figure out how to manage all the rotations and minutes. And he's got guys that love to play together. There's really no downside to that.

At practice Friday morning before OKC's preseason game versus the Heat, Brooks talked about that frontcourt depth. Cole Aldrich, the eleventh overall pick (acquired in a trade with the Hornets that also netted Mo Peterson) will get the start tonight in KC, less than an hour from KU where he made his bones in college. The Thunder this year have worlds of depth down low, with Aldrich joining Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison (another KU alum), and Nenad Krstic with Byron Mullens mopping up the excess. Brooks says the depth is a good thing to have, but a challenge for the staff.
"I like the depth we've got at all five spots. It makes it challenging for the coach, but it's better. You'd rather have that than have to bleed every minute of the starting five. I feel very confident that our guys off the bench whoever they may be will come in and do well. I like the frontcourt. We've have a lot of different style of players. Serge brings his game, and then on down the line: Cole, Nenad, and Jeff, with Byron and D.J. It's my job to figure out how to mesh it all together."
Brooks also spoke about Russell Westbrook and the leadership skills he took from his work this summer with Team USA:
"Any time you're around a great group of athletes like he was with Team USA, it's going to help your game and your leadership. Coach K's a terrific coach, and you learn something from every coach you have. Russell's leadership skills have improved every year. I think as a point guard you want that. It's hard to lead a team as a rookie. The only one I can remember is Magic. But Russell's done a great job in developing his leadership skills."
Westbrook will get his chances to show the offensive leadership tonight against a Heat team that will start Mario Chalmers (another former Jayhawk) and Mike Miller, filling in for an injured Dywane Wade.
Posted on: September 8, 2010 4:20 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2010 5:17 pm
 

NBA F&R Interview: Carlos Boozer wants one back

The Bulls newest star talks about Jerry Sloan, championship dreams, and the one game he wants another crack at. Posted by Matt Moore



Carlos Boozer has taken his new role as a leader of the Bulls by the horns. (What? Why are you looking at me like that? Is there some sort of pun in play? Hmm?) He's been vocal about setting high expectations for the team, has been a visible presence in his new city, and is putting himself forward as the new cornerstone of the franchise beside Derrick Rose. This weekend, he's the guest commissioner at Gatorade's Replay Series Season 3 event, which features two teams replaying a game which ended in a shroud of controversy, something Boozer's been no stranger to in his career and that he continues with his championship goal declarations in Chicago. CBSSports.com spoke with Boozer today about what stands in the way of that goal, going from small market Salt Lake City to big city Chicago, his time with Jerry Sloan, and the one game he wants back. 

Matt Moore: You got a lot of publicity for your comment about competing for a championship. What's going to be the biggest challenge in pursuit of that goal you're setting?

Carlos Boozer: That's what we play for, every NBA player. I'm very vocal about it. I want a ring, and my teammates want a ring. I think the biggest challenge will be coming together with our team chemistry. We also need to work to be a good, consistent defensive team. Also, continuing to see how we respond when we have a couple losses or if we're up and down. Can we fight back up and have that courage and confidence to keep going? In playoffs, we need to see how we fight back in a series. We'll learn a lot about our team, but the goal has to be a championship. That's what we all work for.

MM: Have you already noticed a huge change in going from a small market like Utah to Chicago?

CB: Oh, yeah, it's a lot different. I think I've been able to work my butt off and become a good player. The media coverage is a lot more intense than Salt Lake City. It's great, though, this is a great sports town, with the Blackhawks, the White Sox, the Cubs, the Bears, and obviously the Bulls. I'm looking forward to being a part of it. 

MM: What's the biggest thing you'll take away from your time with Coach Sloan?

CB: Everything. He was phenomenal for me. He called and I talked to him just last week. He was able to turn our team into a contender, even without Karl Malone and Stockton. He really managed the transition of that team to the current one. I think after the Malone era, they were looking for an identity, and we came in and turned that into a contender. He really helped bridge the gap between the Karl Malone era to the early 2000's and 2010's. It's a tribute to him and his coaching that his teams have that kind of consistent success. 

MM: Gatorade is allowing teams to go back and have another shot to replay their greatest wins and most bitter defeats. What game do you want back?

CB: The great thing about this is, Gatorade's been able to give guys games we want to replay. For me, the game against Indiana, when I was a junior in college, what turned out to be my last game at Duke. In Rupp Arena, we were in the Sweet 16 against Indiana. There was a kid had seven 3s in second half, named Tom Coverdale. We were down by 4 at the end, and my teammate Jay Williams hit a three, and got fouled. I grabbed the rebound, went up between two Hoosiers, both of which were grabbing my arms. I thought I got fouled, there was no call, I missed the shot and we lost the game. I wish I could have that one back. There are a lot of games that stand out. This gives them a chance to replay it, especially the two teams playing on Friday. There was a tip at the buzzer, and one feels it was before the buzzer and the other after.

These guys have been training for 8 weeks. They've met with nutrition specialists, and have been going to the Gatorade Sport Science Institute . I'm an honorary commissioner for the game, and I'm looking forward to it. It's fun to be a part of it.

MM: You've got Noah down low, Rose has been working on his three-point shot, and you added Kyle who you've played with. How do you like the balance on this team?

CB: We've got a lot of balance, a lot of depth. I think up front, I think Joakim and I have a chance of being a more dynamic frontcourt, along with Kurt Thomas. In the backcourt, Derrick Rose is one of the more dynamic scorers in the league. We've got Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver, who you mentioned for defense and shooting. I think we'll be better than what a lot of people think. We have Luol Deng on the wing, which is great to have. But we have to go earn our respect. With the talent that we have, and the hunger we have, I think we're ready to really push for a championship.

Thanks to Carlos for his time and Gatorade for its assistance with this interview.


Posted on: August 27, 2010 4:10 pm
Edited on: August 27, 2010 5:32 pm
 

Dwight Howard on movies, the Heat, and tennis

Dwight Howard will be a guest coach at Gatorade's Replay event in Chicago on September 10th, and we'll be bringing you some interviews from their experience. Beforehand, though, CBSSports.com's NFL Facts and Rumors blogger Will Brinson talked to Dwight Howard on the phone about the event, dealing with the Heat hype, and being a movie star in China. Best of all, Will was able to get Howard to do a Stan Van Gundy impression so well, we've embedded the audio below the interview. Enjoy.




CBS: You got Replay 3 coming up -- I'm actually a two-time veteran, gonna try and make it up there -- are you excited to see how Gatorade got these guys trained and ready to taste redemption [laughing] … or something like that?

DH: Aw, man, I'm ready for those guys to get on the court and play the game. They've been training the last five weeks and the Gatorade Sports Science team has really put them on a good diet -- they've been training the right way, eating the right way, doing everything the right way. My guys are ready: they're in shape. We ran them yesterday and they got a little upset because I made them run, but you know.

CBS: Do you think you have any tactical advantage over the other side -- I mean, Dwyane Wade is the other honorary coach so do you think you're the better tactician?

DH: I think we're gonna win. I think we're gonna win the game, because we have the big fell on our team. He's about 6'5" which is big in high school -- he's about 6'5", 6'6" and he's a big strong guy and he plays overseas now. He's actually Quentin Richardson's first cousin.

CBS: Nice, nice … what about you, if you could pick any game from your illustrious career so far, what game would it be?

DH: High school. One game against Sebatian Telfair -- we lost the game supposedly by the buzzer, but he hit the shot with like 5 seconds left, and I ran up to the ref and I was calling timeout but the ref was so hyped that he hit the shot that he was jumping up and down and yelling and he didn't call timeout and we lost the game, so yeah, I'd love to play that game again.

CBS: The Magic didn't have any major roster changes over the summer like you guys did last year -- do you think that's a good thing?

DH: Yeah, I think it's a good thing. The more and more we build as a team the better we'll be. The team that went to the [NBA] Finals, I think that's why we were so effective -- we had great chemistry and everyone knew their roles and what they needed to do and that's just gonna make our team better this year.

CBS: Are you guys motivated by people constantly discussing a certain other team in Florida who shall remain unnamed because it's so early in the morning?

DH: [Laughing] We understand that it's gonna be there all year -- they hype surrounding the Miami Heat. You know, the team that they have, they should have a lot of hype. But I've been on teams where we had a lot of great players and we didn't win when it counted -- so it's not about who you have on a team in terms of stars and big names, it's about how that team plays together and what they can accomplish as a team.

CBS: Stan Van Gundy's one of my favorite … I'd put him in front of a microphone all day if I could. What's your favorite Stan Van Gundy quote?

DH: Stan Van Gundy quote …

CBS: Or your favorite line, whatever.

DH: Well before every practice, he goes "GET THIS IN YOUR MIND" [Ed Note: This impersonation is nearly as amazing as Brinson's cackling is awkward, which is why we've embedded it below.] And he's acting like he's cranking his mind up: "I WANT YOU GUYS TO GET THIS IN YOUR MIND!"

CBS: [Still laughing] That's a pretty good SVG impersonation, man. Wanna ask about your summer -- you're not doing Team USA, but you've still got a lot going on. You're in this movie -- a Chinese movie called "Amazing" with Carmelo Anthony -- how'd that come about?

DH: Well, I love acting and the NBA asked me to come to China and film a movie and I was there for four or five days. I had a lot of speaking parts in the movie and it was very fun -- I enjoyed it a lot and actually the director wants to write a script so I can come back and do another movie.

CBS: Almost seems like the "Summer of Dwight" really -- you've got India, Israel and China on the books for travel, right?

DH: Yup, I've been all over the place -- it's been great. Basketball's opened up a lot of doors for me …

CBS: What's the coolest thing you saw this summer?

DH: That's a good question. I've been to China like nine times, so just going there is always fun for me. I guess the last time I went they had an expo there and it was all the countries and built this one big brand building to represent their country and it was just an amazing site to see. And there were like 500,000 people there a day so it was just crazy.

CBS: Have you spent any more time since June working with Hakeem Olaujuwon?

DH: Well, all I really needed was that one session. We wanted to get back together, but it's very tough -- he stays in Jordan during the summer. But he sent me the tape of my workout and I've been doing some of the things on the tape, but the biggest thing was the footwork, just learning the footwork and the small little things to add to my game.

CBS:   Brandon Marshall and Donovan McNabb recently made some jokes about playing in the NBA -- my buddy Matt Moore and I had a big discussion about this and didn't think either could make the team. If you had to play another sport, what would it be?

DH: Ummmmm .

CBS: Golfer? Tennis? Football?

DH: Tennis is the first thing that came to my mind. I think I'd be pretty good at it -- being a good server, but also slams -- I played tennis growing up. And I played football so I'd probably do one of those things. Or I'd do track

CBS: Alright, good deal … get you out on this one -- you're known as Superman no matter what Shaquille O'Neal says, so if you had to pick one super power to have, what would it be?

DH: Sort of like the Midas touch but it would be where -- I like changing people's lives, so the ability to change people's lives … sort of like the Midas touch.

CBS: Wait, so you'd use your powers for good?

DH: Yeah.

CBS:
Hah, you're a better man than me.

Posted on: August 18, 2010 11:28 am
Edited on: August 18, 2010 12:22 pm
 

Wade: 'I don't do these things for recognition.'

The Heat star talks about coming home, being portrayed as a villain, and handling the ball among the Miami Triad.

Posted by Matt Moore


Dwyane Wade isn't Public Enemy No.1 in the NBA, but he may be No. 3. As the inciting member of the new Miami Triad, he's taken a lot of hea... I mean, flak for how "The Decision" and formation of the new Heat came together. And that was before the response to his Twin Towers comment . But the negative attention hasn't slowed him down at all... either in terms of personal engagements or from his multiple charity commitments.

In fact, Wade has become quite the force when it comes to NBA charity work. He now has the Summer Groove event he does in cooperation with Alonzo Mourning, and the event he will host this weekend; The Wade's World Charity Weekend in Chicago. The event features benefit dinners, a bowling party and basketball workshops, but the focus is on communicating with underprivileged kids in Chicago about the importance of education.

Not exactly the nefarious work of the villain Wade's been made out to be, along with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. I spoke with Wade by phone today about the weekend, being portrayed as a villain, and oh yeah, who's handling the ball in Miami?

Matt Moore - CBSSports.com: So you're heavily involved with this charity as well as Zo's Summer Groove. Why is this one so important to you, is it just the element of being home?

Dwyane Wade: Yeah, just being home, you know? I'm honored to be involved with Summer Groove in Miami with Zo and the work we do there, but this is where I'm from. I know what these kids go through, because I went through some of the same things. I see myself in some of the youth here, and that's why it's so important.

Moore: We live in an era where athletes of all types and sports do very real, very explicitly illegal acts, and little is made of it. On the other hand, your business decisions of the past three months have led people to vilify you and your teammates to a degree. Is it frustrating to see the kind of negative attention you receive, despite being a great player, a good teammate, and a positive force in the community?

Wade: Yeah, I don't think the world focuses on the positive things enough. I understand being the villain is what people like. People play to that. They want to know about the villain. They don't want to know about the good. They say they do, but statistics show that they don't. The thing is, I don't do these things for recognition, being a good teammate, being a positive member of the community. I do them because those things make me whole and complete. A lot of that negativity? It's just speculation. You've gotta deal with it and move on. I've learned that not everyone's going to be 100% DWade. Hopefully the ones that do get to know me more and the things that I do and that's what they make their opinions from, from who I am. Everything else is just speculation.

Moore: What event specifically is the best part of this weekend?

Wade: The Saturday where we focus on the kids. That's when we have the Youth Summit, dealing with major issues. Specifically, violence and education in Chicago. And that's when I get to hear their stories and what they've been through. The talent show that night, giving them a platform, letting the community know these kids are out there and giving them a voice. That's a really big part of this weekend, giving the community to really check these kids out. We need more support from the community for these kids.

Moore: Doing these events, seeing these kids first hand, all the work that you've done, does it make you want to be involved at a higher level? Does being so involved make you think about being involved in a political or more advanced level when your playing days are over?

Wade: Yeah, actually. My focus is on right now, my goal is to start now and do things now. Then, to build a platform when I'm done playing basketball. I try and do these things, not just in Miami or Chicago. I do things in every city we go to, like during All-Star Weekend. I just want to make a difference as much as possible. At the end of the day when there's no more DWade, I want to have made a difference.

Moore: With the new Heat coming together, you've got more weapons, obviously, but there are going to be questions about how it's all going to work on the court. Do you see yourself handling the ball more coming up the floor more, less or the same as in years before? Are you going to be playing more of a point-type position, or will it be business as usual in Miami?

Wade: The same pretty much. You know, I handled the ball a lot last season in Miami. I also played off the ball a lot. I don't think that changes a lot. I'm a playmaker, and I'm going to score. At the end of the day, my job is to put the ball in the basket. I'm also going to create opportunities for my teammates, and that won't change.



 
 
 
 
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