Kwame Brown interview

The last thing Kwame Brown said when we were wrapping up our interview Friday was “I cant wait for training camp. Those words have to be music to the ears of Lakers fans, given Browns importance in the big picture of this season.

The Lakers have invested $25 million into developing Brown as their big man. He’s only 24 years old yet going into his sixth NBA season. If Brown can pick up where he left off in the spring, when he averaged 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds in 18 games with Chris Mihm out, the Lakers could be in business this season.

Heres a transcript of the interview. Were going to run a story in Sundays paper. As hard as it is to believe, training camp starts a week from Tuesday.

Q: How has the off-season gone? What have you focused on in terms of your game?

A: Im just trying to get my legs and hamstrings back in order where I can be consistent. Last year, I think I had a great finish to the season. But I just want to have a great start. Instead of a letdown in the beginning, I want to come out of the gate and try to start out like I (finished) last year.

Q: Are your legs still an issue from when you broke your foot in Washington?

A: Its just trying to get my hips and stuff balanced. The trainers know more than me. Some days everything feels good and then some days everythings not balanced and lined up. I worked on my legs a lot, getting them bigger and stronger, so now Im just working on my conditioning and trying to get my touch back on my shot.

I think thats the main thing for me. I can get to the basket with my jump hook so Ive got to add a little bit to my game where I can get some type of finesse (move) with a little 15-foot jumper or a little touch jump shot around the basket so I dont have to bang every play and get tired.

Q: When you look back at last season, how different would the year have been if you didnt get hurt early?

A: I was just thankful for the opportunity. I look back at it and say, `What if Chris Mihm would have never got hurt? I would have never got the opportunity. I was trying to show the coaches that they can still have confidence in me, that Im going to come back and try to be out of the gate like that now that Im comfortable in the offense and guys know what I can do, and if Im not doing it, they can hold me accountable for it.

Q: How much confidence do you have in your own game after the way you finished last year?

A: I have a lot. I think now my mindset and my teammates mindset should be if I have the ball on the block, let me go to work. As opposed to the beginning of last season (when) I was looking to just pass the ball and get the ball to Lamar and Kobe.

I think now that when I get the ball, Ive earned the trust in them and in myself to go ahead and go to work.


Q: Do you think teams are going to look at you this year as an offensive threat? A lot of teams werent giving you much respect even as you had a couple of big games at the end of last season.

A: It doesnt matter what they do. Its all about what we do. I think were going to be a very good team. Im working on my legs and defense first because I think people dont talk about it enough that it wasnt our offenses fault. We scored enough points to win games. Even (Game 6) that we lost. If our defense would have held, we had enough points to win the game.

I think were going to first work on our pick-and-roll defense. If anybody breaks down our tape, that was the main thing we were poor at was rotating and helping and showing hard on the picks. I dont know what our game plan is going to be against screen-and-roll this year, but I know thats the main thing that Im looking to try to get better at, whatever I need to do.

Q: When Mitch talked to us at the exit meetings, he said, `Kwame cannot afford to get away from the game this summer. Was this the best off-season youve had in terms of the work you put in?

A: I think for the beginning of the summer, I was on such a high off of last year, I started conditioning too early. I started running and running. Mitch pulled me in at one point in the summer and was like, `Why are you running so much at this stage? You should be working on your skills, getting jump hooks and jumpers. Thatll keep you in shape while youre working on your skills.

I think now Im more so working on my skills instead of running, because Ill get in shape during camp. If it kills you, theyre going to get you in shape. Now Im trying to work on my skills more because Mitch was right. He knows the game. Im just trying to come in and get off touch shots and get my jump hooks down and get my timing back on the floor.

Q: What kind of range do you hope to have? Fifteen-footers would be a sight to see.

A: Thats wasnt a long shot for me. I came in shooting that easy. I just got away from that. Like Mitch was saying, `If you work on your skills, its like second nature.

My problem is when I do something wrong or bad, I just work on that one thing. Ill come in and work on 50 jump hooks and then I get good at jump hooks and I have no jump shot. Youve got to do all of that. Now Im shooting a lot of jump shots but before I leave (today) Ill do a bunch of jump hooks.

Q: When Lamar came over from the Heat, he said it takes one year for a player to get used to being a Laker. Do you feel a lot more settled coming into this year?

A: Im trying to tell you that arena was very, very tough to play in. Its intimidating, even when youre (the road team). Its a big arena. Theres celebrities all on the side. Its a tough place to play. Its Hollywood, so youre a little wide-eyed.

Once you get comfortable and the fans understand youre going to work hard, then its cool. Thats any arena. Anybody that comes and plays us, theyre like wide-eyed. They always say, `Thats Denzel!

Q: You also had to learn the triangle, which is never easy.

A: The triangle was tough for me because as a post-up player, it bothers me with a lot of cutters around me when Im posting up. Especially as a young post player, I dont do well when there are a lot of cutters. That third cutter really bothered me because I want to go middle. Then youve got a guy coming up to the middle, so youre nothing but a passer.

I think Chris knew the system a little better than me, knew when to duck in. We have a couple of isolations. Now I think I know when to duck in, when to go one-on-one. My teammates started demanding that of me at the end of the season, to go one-one-one, once I started finishing. (The) first thing is catching, instead of rushing.

Q: Do you like the new ball?

A: I hate the new ball. Oh my God. The last ball, it would get a little play on the rim. This ball, if it touches the rim, its coming out. Its squirting right off the rim.

Q: What about handling the ball in the post?

A: The only difference about the ball is you can grip the ball a little better when its dry. When it gets wet, it gets a little heavier and lot more slippery than the other ball.

Q: So youre not a fan

A: Not a fan. Not a fan at all.

Q: Did you get a chance to talk to Kobe this off-season? Did you see him ever?

A: He was here. He was nursing that knee. He said hes going to be fine, as you would expect. You know Kobes going to come in ready to play. He had an injury and hes in better shape than everyone. Nobodys worried about him in that aspect.

Its good to have him around because hes always going to talk positive for us. If youre missing shots, the key words you always remember him saying is, `Will it in. You get down, hes always saying something that reinforces you in a strong way instead of a weak-minded way.

Q: Do you feel like youve improved as a foul shooter? I know its hard to say until you get into a game situation

A: Its not that I improved as a foul shooter. I improved mentally. Most of the time, I didnt even want to get fouled because I didnt want to go to the line. At the end of the year, all they would do is foul me, so Im like, `OK, Ive got to go to the line so you might as well stand in there and just make it.

Q: If you look back at last year, what was satisfying for you personally?

A: The only thing I think I did that I would say was satisfactory was gaining the trust of my teammates. Thats the most important thing to me is I want to be able to come out on the court and know I can look the other four guys in the eye and say, `You know what to expect. Im going to go hard. If Im having a bad game, Im going to rebound it. If Im having a bad rebounding game, Im going to play defense. Im going to give you something, and Im going to give it all Ive got.

I felt like at first it was defense. They knew I was going to come out and play hard defense. If I wasnt, Lamar or somebody would say something. Then it was like, `OK, now youve got to catch this damn ball.

Q: You feel like once you proved to them you could catch the ball and finish that was it?

A: Its just slowing down. Thats the thing everybody was telling me. I would be making my move before I had the ball. Once I slowed down and just let the game come to me, instead of trying to force the game . . . it was easy after I slowed down and read what the defense was doing.

Q: Could this be a breakthrough year for you?

A: Yeah. I dont like saying that because every year Ive said that, Ive gotten hurt. After my third year, I had a great finish with the Wizards, then I broke my foot that summer. I just want to come in healthy. Thats it. If I come in healthy with a positive attitude, then Im good.

Q: Whats the story with the 15-10 card Phil gave you? Did he actually do that?

A: After the season, he wrote (it) down on a piece of paper. He said, `With the free throws that youve been missing and a couple of rebounds, you could average 15 and 10. He said, `Thats what I want your goal to be.

Not that its going to be a letdown if (I) dont get it, but thats where he wants the bar at. The games where I had it rolling, a few free throws here, a few rebounds there, I could have had it. Lamar is such a damn good rebounder, were out there fighting for those rebounds.

Q: Do you still have the card?

A: Ive got it in my wallet. Its a little soggy because my wallet got wet, but its in there.

Q: Do you need to have a 15-10 season?

A: Thats just where the goal is. I dont know if I need to. Well see what weve got once we get in here. I saw Radmanovic shooting and he must have made freaking 200 shots in a row. Hes definitely going to help our team. That jumper is effortless. Were going to have an interesting team. We have a lot of guys that play the same position, but I think thats a good problem to have, especially when you have so many people that are skilled at what they do.

Q: How do you think its going to work out with both you and Chris at center?

A: Thats not my problem. Chris is going to do his job as far as getting in shape and coming out as hard as he can and Im going to do the same. Thats the coaches job (to figure out). Thats why they get paid the big bucks.

Q: Could you play that 4 spot on the wing if you need to? It seemed like last season proved you were a center first and foremost.

A: Anytime youve got a 270-pound guy on the wing, I dont think thats (to) his best advantage. Id definitely like to be down low, challenging guys and putting the pressure on people. But if I have to be on the wing, hey.

Q: How good do you think this team can be this year?

A: We have the potential to be as good as our defense. The only thing Im worried about is our screen-and-roll defense. Apparently (returning assistant coach) Jim Cleamons is a defensive guy. I think were going to improve. Just by having Radmanovic and a healthy Chris Mihm, were going to be a better offensive team.

The only thing I think we really need to improve on is our screen-and-roll defense, get a concept down and just keep doing it. We had so many different things we were doing from game to game. Wed come in with a game plan and then when it didnt work, we would kind of fall apart.

Its going to be tough with a team like (Phoenix) to trap and rotate, but for the most part I think we should trap, rotate and work on that.

Q: You said you were on a high going into the off-season?

A: You cant be on a high when every time you see someone its, `Damn, you should have won that Game 6. It was a constant reminder. When you look at tape (of Tim Thomas shot), I ran from the corner and I ran up to the top and I was thinking, `If I would have hesitated one second, maybe I could have blocked that shot.

But with him, if you hesitate a second, hell make it anyway. He had an unbelievable playoff series. That shot right there, I can remember it like its happening right now.

Q: Have you seen Phil at all?

A: You know how Phil is. Hes a funny dude. I didnt know he was that funny for a guy that smart. He comes in and he plays with you, jokes in a quiet way. A funny dude.

Q: Laron Profit gave Phil a lot of credit for how he approached coaching you last season.

A: I think because he knew my history, and Id had so much negatitivity that he never made anything a negative. Even when I was playing bad, he could have went in the papers and said anything because my game was reflecting basically nothing.

Even when the coaches said to me, `Maybe were playing you out of position, he was still positive in saying, `Just come in and give me what you can and play defense. He broke down the game in segments for me.

`If you dont feel comfortable scoring and doing all that, then run the court and get rebounds. Once you start doing that, lets take another step.

He broke the game down for me and I think that helped. Even when I was getting down on myself, he said, `You know what, dont worry about it. It takes some guys three to six months to learn this offense.

Im like, `Wow, hes still not killing me. It was crazy to see that approach. Most coaches, they cant do that. This is a business. It would have been easy for him to say, `Weve got this guy, he aint doing (anything), and that would have been it.

Thats the true meaning of a coach, when he can lift a player up. Im not saying everybody should do that, but some guys need different stuff.

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  • http://www.technomaster.com Kevin Dolorico

    It’s pretty interesting reading some candid Kwame Brown comments. At 24, he’s hit some bumps in the road, but it seems reasonable that he’ll emerge as a consistent player under this Lakers regime.

    Tex Winter hates him (based on the comments written up on hoopshype.com a few months ago), but it sounds like Phil is taking the time to nurture this guy. I think it’s what some of the straight-from-high-school players really need.

    Several of the top picks in his draft (Chandler, Curry) are perhaps not-so-ironically going through the same issues of consistency. All 3 have killer NBA-elite-style bodies… but no one has emerged as a consistent force (yet).

    15 and 10? Those are Horace Grant-type numbers.

  • Chim Chim

    great interview. Good to hear Kwame acknowledge all the frustrating things he would do last year like dropping so many passes. Glad to hear he is practicing hard in the off-season. He can be a difference maker. Hope things go well next season for him and the Lakers.

  • Michael Teniente

    Nice interview. If you get a chance give Kwame my regards. I’m a big Kwame Brown supporter.

    mike

  • jay walker

    I’m a diehard Lakes fan who lives in DC. I also like the Wizards and is very familiar with kwame. I love the guy. The thing people may not realize about him is that he’s a real good kid. He got a raw deal with a losing franchise here everyone was under so much pressure because of it including Kwame. Kwame has the talent to be a star he just needs to develop the confidence to let the mistakes roll off his back. This is where Phil and Kobe have helped him. I think he’s gonna break out and still be special he’s still so young. Bigs take longer sometimes to figure it out with so many perimeter based offenses.

    Glad to hear him working hard .

  • Michael Teniente

    Kevin Dolorico,

    “Tex Winter hates him (based on the comments written up on hoopshype.com a few months ago),…”

    That’s the impression I got from Tex’s comments, too. I found it laughable that he would say the things he did about Kwame and not mention how terrible Chris Mihm is on defense. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it, again. That old man has over stayed his time in the NBA.

    mike

  • greek dude

    Mike T!

    Sounds like your boy has improved his attitude tremendously and i am actually very excited about Kwame’s season.

    Although 15-10 is a little out of reach, especially with lamar in there, I think 13-8 is a realistic possiblity.

  • anton

    at times last season he seemed like a deer in the headlights, and at his best moments he was a force to respected on the offensive and defensive sides. consistency is difficult for any NBA player, so 15-10 is ideal thinking but it’s important to aim high. Hopefully Kwame’s second year will be if anything, consistent.

  • Syrinx2112

    Thank you for the Q&A!

    It is indeed comforting to this Laker fan that Kwame has taken it upon himself to maintain that level of intensity, and consistency to bring it forth to the new season.

    Also, I like to hear from Kwame that he is working on his jump shot. There are players in this league that when they shoot you can practically guess if their shot is going in or not. Kwame has good form and it is evident in his free throw shooting. He just needs to be more consistent, and do the Kobe-dang (Will it in – baby!).

    Looking forward to the new exciting season and No. 24!!!

    Syrinx
    PS. Welcome to the P&G RAD!!!

  • Ken

    Two things are apparent to me from this interview. First, I saw Kwame constantly being passive and not finishing, so he would not be fouled during games. He hurt the team doing that, so hopefully, now that he has admitted doing this it won’t happen again.
    Secondly, Mitch is a damn good GM.”Mitch pulled me in at one point in the summer and was like, `Why are you running so much at this stage? You should be working on your skills, getting jump hooks and jumpers. Thatll keep you in shape while youre working on your skills.” I like that, Mitch will turn out to be better than a lot of people think.

  • David

    I would love to see Kwame at center and Chris Mihn at power forward, Lamar at small forward

  • LakeMan

    What a beautiful interview. i’m expecting Kwame to have a big year which will solve us winning 50+ games.

  • Peter

    Great Kwame Interview. I think that Chris Mihm hold the key to Laker’s surprise out of the gate. If he can man the 4 position successfully. He just needs a consistent go to move a la Duncan…And he can play very goood help defense and block shots..and also pick up less foul in the process. Look. Chris also has a good jump shot. The Lakers have a chance to be special..With Kobe doing his thing……Any thing is possible…

  • http://www.myspace.com/dustyeinstein Dusty Einstein

    “You know how Phil is. Hes a funny dude. I didnt know he was that funny for a guy that smart. He comes in and he plays with you, jokes in a quiet way. A funny dude.”

    Ha, I love this bit. I’ve often heard Kwame described as “very likeable”, and this certainly illustrates that.

    Damn straight he’s going to pick up where he left off, and THEN some.

    The season can’t begin soon enough…

    No one is saying it, but…
    Lakers: World Champions in ’07.

  • TEE

    I can be patient with a 24 y/o 6’11 270lb young big that is willing to work hard on his game. Let’s go KWAME ,I think 15ppg and 10rpg can be done if he shoots 68% or higher from the line.

  • yieyiey

    kwame will be on fire this season. i say we start whichever point guard is our best defensive option and we will be set.

  • SamII

    Good to see Kwame working on his game. I’ve always wanted to see him succeed. What a great Q&A! Most people don’t realize that Kwame can put coherent sentences together well especially when interviewed.

  • Steve Watkins

    If Kwame’s problems with the ball this year will be exacerbated by the new ball, is it realistic to expect a 15/10 season from him? On the other hand, his comments vis-a-vis the need to slow down and let the game come to him lead me to the inference that he was a little too hyper last year, ergo, the many missed passes and the generally-poor hand/eye coordination.

    I’ll be impressed if he can consistently bang bodies and be a real defensive presence in the low post while kicking it out to KB, LO, S.Rad., et al.

    All in all, a splendid interview. Good on you, and GO LAKERS GO!!!

  • alex

    kwame brown does not need to score 15 ppg for the lakers to have success. not even 13.

    kobe lamar an rod can be a triple threat an could average 60 ppg between the 3 easy. kwame needs to focus on defense an rebounds. i dont think he passed that stage yet.

  • Kevin George

    Great Interview, I live in the DC area, and my co workers called me the only Kwame Brown fan in dc. This is a stand up kid and all he needed was a fair chance to shine and now you will see what he can do. I know Kwame will continue to grow as long as he stays healthy. We will see I think this dude will give the Laker 13 and 8 mark my works. He will do that this year and the Lakers will make some noise in the Play off.

    KWAME STAY UP CHAMP.

    KK

  • b-sup-dawg

    i think kwame is a smart guy. he seems insightful and always says good things in interviews. here’s another one cheering for ya, Kwame!

    Damn, season is getting close! wooooo! cant wait!

  • http://nba-all-star-game-news.blogspot.com/ totoro

    I can see Kwame going for 15/10 although it may be difficult with Vladamir now on board. Can’t wait for the season to start!

  • ricardo piria

    I am a Lakers fan from uruguay.
    This is my first post.
    The interview was great.
    Thank you all for your fine comments

  • Laker Larry

    I have always thought that more than half the squad was playing out of their natural positions. Lamar should be at the small forward, Kwame at the 5 and Mihm at the 4. Chris has a fair mid range jumper along the baseline and I much prefer him at the 4. Why not try it?

  • Jake

    Kwame will definitely have a break-out year if he can stay healthy. The Lakers roster has improved quite a bit and with the experience they gained together last season, they will be dangerous. They’re such a young team still too. I expect them to make it to the 2nd round at least. Oh ya, and Kobe changing to #24? A little odd, but look at MJ…he wore #45 at one point. Just a little comparison between the two greatest players of all time. Actually, Magic is probably #2 at this point. Go Lakers!!

  • Lamar Kaleo Benavides

    Mahalo Lakers Blogs! I’ve been an L.A. fan since the days of West, Baylor and Wilt…this was good to hear how this season’s team is looking. I really enjoyed hearing about Kwame. That was a huge article and I for one am hoping (like the rest of the team and city) that Kwame has a breakout season, stay positive dude, and that they get the pick and roll defense down to a science. For years that has been their achilles heel. Good luck to the whole team, especially Lamar Odom and to PJ’s hip surgery, Kobe’s knee and let’s all look forward to opening night. I wish here in New Zealand we had Prime TV or someplace we could watch more Lakers game!

  • fizzle

    i love u kwame….ur my role model

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