In our last wave of Laker Media Day interviews, I talk to the main holdover of last year’s bench, Steve Blake. He’s likely going to back Steve Nash up. Later on, I was able to get a couple of quotes from another new member of the bench, Antawn Jamison. He’ll be expected to provide some scoring punch off the pine that was sorely needed last year.
Here you go, kids.
FORUM BLUE & GOLD: Third year with the Lakers. Does it feel any different?
STEVE BLAKE: No, not really. We’ve got a lot of excitement around this year, especially, but the other years were kind of like that as well. We’ve got some new faces that we’re all excited to have on the team but we all got one common goal and purpose and that’s to be the #1 team at the end of the year.
FB&G: You just tweeted this morning (which happened on Monday, of course) that your feet seems to be okay; you can do some spot shooting now. So when can you return?
SB: Well, it’s 1-2 weeks. This week, they still want to be cautious on any hard cutting so I don’t open the wound back up. But it’s progressing really nicely and hope to be back in 1-2 weeks.
FB&G: Do you feel like you have to earn back your spot because of the injury?
SB: I just go out there and play. I love the game; I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ll let the coaches decide what my role is going to be. I hope it’s the back-up role; I’d love to back up Steve Nash. I’m excited for the year.
FB&G: Last year, you started some games. Did that feel any different? Were you more comfortable as a starter?
SB: Obviously, everyone knows with Steve being here, I’m going to be a back-up. *laughs* It’s not like we’re competing or anything. That’s not a question. As a player, you always wanna do the best you can. Whatever that role is whether you’re starting or backing up, you just want to help your team. That’s always been my mindset: how can I help my team the best? And it’ll be to come off the bench and give us some energy.
FB&G: You shot well behind the arc in the playoffs after a so-so regular season. So what did you work on during the summer?
SB: Well, I worked on a lot of ballhandling, to really have body control, and be able to get in the lane and create for people and finish around the basket. And continue to be a great three-point shooter.
FB&G: The media has been tough on you here in L.A. How does this compare to other cities like Portland and Washington, D.C.?
SB: It’s interesting because L.A. is a huge market and they definitely put a lot of pressure on you. And then you go to Portland, NBA is the only professional franchise… well, there’s soccer there now, too… but there’s a lot of focus on you as well in markets like that. It’s part of the job, been around it for a while, and some we’re used to.
This is what Antawn Jamison had to say about his new team and Kobe Bryant.
ANTAWN JAMISON: As an opponent, you envy the guy and you envy the organization. They were always the topnotch team in the NBA. To be his teammate, especially in this stage of my career… (Kobe) is the guy who has five rings but you couldn’t tell at all. He eats, sleeps, drinks rings. This is the situation I wanna be a part of. I think he’s just as hungry as he was just before he got his first one. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to contribute and help this organization win another championship. That’s why Kobe is here because he wants to win another one. I’ve never been a part of a team where everybody has the same goal. There’s always points here, money here, trying to accomplish this… but everybody understands why we’re assembled here. Everyone understands the goal from the coaching staff to the youngest player of this team. It’s a great feeling to be a part of this organization. It’s not about making it to the Finals. It’s not about winning 60 games. It’s about being the last team standing. For me, 15 years, this is the most excited I’ve been and probably the best chance I have to win a ring. Just great to be surrounded by so many talented players. It’s gonna be a fun year.
Then Antawn was asked about reuniting with coach Mike Brown.
AJ: I know Mike (Brown). I played with him in Cleveland for a short period of time. I totally understand what he expects out of his players. I understand what he brings to the table and we kind of have an understanding of what my role will be and what’s expected out of me as well. I was kind of disappointed that once I got to Cleveland, he left and we had to start back over. But I have so much respect for him as a coach. We always remained good friends after he left. He was ecstatic to have me on board. Once I realized they wanted me to a part of this organization, I thought it’d be a perfect fit. My old friend, Eddie Jordan, is here as well. This is gonna hopefully be a smooth transition. I know a lot of players in this team and we’re just excited to get the season going.