NBA Q&A: Elton Brand

Posted by Unknown on Tuesday, January 07, 2014 with No comments
Courtesy of Dime

Dime: With Al Horford out for the remainder of the season, will that change your role on this team?
Elton Brand: It’s gonna change it eventually. I was just thinking about four or five days before he got hurt, after he had a huge double-double, like “wow, what a great luxury this is to have such good and young dynamic bigs to play with.” I can come in and bring some energy, just play hard and play some defense and we’re third place in the East, but then he went down. My role will change eventually. Whether it’s starting, I started the last three games, but we’re all going to have to pick up the slack with scoring, rebounding and from a leadership perspective. We lead by example, but he’s a leader too.
Dime: The Hawks are currently the third seed in the East. How confident is this team about being one of the best teams in the East (injuries and all)?

EB: That’s the thing, when we had Al and our full complement of guys we were confident. We took Miami to overtime in Miami, up seven with 90 seconds left. We felt like we could play with the really good teams. Now with Al [Horford] down, we’re still confident, but we have to find a way now. We have to evaluate more on the fly and have to figure it out.
Dime: You are reunited with Lou Williams in Atlanta, someone you played with in Philly and had success with. How has that been?

EB: It’s been good. Lou is coming off of his first injury, he’s a young guy, but he’s played many years in the league because he came out of high school. He’s getting back at it, scoring in bunches again and doing what he use to do on the court. It’s just good being able to talk to him about that and he’s asking questions and he will say, “Yeah you know how it is or how it was when you first get out there [after an injury] and you feel a certain way and you’re thinking now” and just talking through things. He’s a great asset for us to have, especially off the bench. When I play off the bench with him, I set some great picks and we will “get to that chicken,” which means score some points.
Dime: Jeff Teague is having the best season of his young career. Have you noticed anything different about him from the offseason to now?

EB: Jeff hasn’t changed emotionally, you know. He’s still a quiet guy, he hits a game-winner and doesn’t really celebrate [laughs]. But, his leadership has picked up a lot, he’s the head of the snake defensively. He’s the first guy you see offensively, he’s getting in the paint, creating for others and creating his own shot. I just really, really, hope Paul [Millsap] and him can continue to thrive offensively. I know with Al down, being our leading scorer and rebounder, Paul is stepping up his game. When I first got into the league, there was no fan vote for the All-Star Game. So, the coaches didn’t care if you were four games under .500, they weren’t voting you in. You had to at least be .500, so I hope these guys get in there. I hope Jeff gets in there and Paul gets in there because they deserve it.
Dime: It’s your 15th NBA season. Are there any goals you have yet to accomplish that you are striving for?

EB: Oh yeah, just being on good teams and competing. Of course I want a ring, but that’s not going to make or break my career. I won’t dwell on it, like some other people say, “I need one, I want one bad.” But I still want to be a part of the team. If I went to a team and didn’t play one minute and got a ring, it wouldn’t feel the same for me. If I got three minutes and I got to dive on the floor for a loose ball, I would feel great about it. Just being a part of it and being out there, that’s why I wanted to come to Atlanta. CoachBud is doing a great job with six or seven, maybe eight new guys and implementing his offense. So, just to be on a good team. I was with Grant Hill his last year in Phoenix and he dropped me off at the hotel after we smacked them by 30. He was like “Man, I’m too old for this s***!” You know he went to the Clippers and retired, I think he was 38 at the time, but I understand what he’s saying. When you get to the twilight of your career, you wanna be on a good team and play, compete and have fun.
Dime: Do you have a defining memory or moment that you will never forget?

EB: Of course the NBA Draft, being the No. 1 overall pick and shakingDavid Stern’s hand. That was just like the opportunity, it’s a whirlwind. It just comes so fast and goes so fast. Being a rookie, the veterans use to tell me that it would go fast and I was just like of like, “yeah whatever old guy.” Now, I’m 15 years deep and I’m the old guy. But, I’m definitely enjoying the ride for sure.
Dime: You were the No. 1 overall pick out of Duke in 1999, so what do you think about Jabari Parker?

EB: He’s a special talent, I know he has a chance to go top three or something like that. He has a chance to be a special player.
Dime: How hard has it been to mentally prepare to having a reduced role after all of your extended success in the NBA over such a long period of time? Have you embraced the veteran leadership role?

EB: That’s the thing. I made some All-Star teams and being Rookie of the Year, but I had some injuries and stuff, so I was never that superstar player that said he would never come off the bench. For me, it’s about the team. It’s a totally different role, I’ve always been a starter my entire life. So, coming off the bench it’s like, “oh this is what the bench guys go through, huh?” I have to get use to it, you know? Veteran leadership like you said. I started the other game and played 12 minutes, then I came of the bench and played 20 minutes, so as long as I’m out there playing and helping the team, I’m fine with whatever role it is.
Dime: I noticed you had five blocks the other night against Utah, how did that feel?

EB: You know, that’s the job. I try to think back the season when I averaged like 24 points or something and I’m like, “did I play defense that year?” It’s hard, for those two-way guys, it’s hard to play defense. Guard pick-n-rolls, go rebound and then go on the other end and score, like it’s hard to do. So, right now my role is to be an inside presence, play defense, be tough, guard the best post-scorer on the other team. That’s my role and I embrace it. I enjoy it. I love competing, I love the commodity. I’m still enjoying playing.
Dime: This is your second one-year deal. How many years do you want to play?

EB: When I first got in the league, I was like “I probably won’t make it past 30″ because I was 20. Michael Jordan was like 35 or 36 and got his last ring, everyone was like “oh he’s super old.” Then he came back at 40 and still gave them 40 points, it was amazing. I won’t play ’til 40, but I don’t think I’ll make it that long. I’ll take it year by year. Two to three. Definitely two to three more strong years. Give a team some strong minutes, I think I can compete with any big out there for sometime out there.
Dime: What happened with Twitter?

EB: Yeah [chuckles]. I was talking to the team in Dallas [last season] and it really got popular the last few years or whatever. They always said that I needed to get on Twitter, my PR firm was like “come on, you’re the only guy on that doesn’t have a Twitter.” In Dallas I wouldn’t do it, then I got to Atlanta and I was like “alright, let me try it.” Then I got on it and it was cool, it was fun. I was a few thousand followers just in a few hours, I went viral by calling Instagram “Intergram” by accident with Lou Williams. It went viral and I was like “this just isn’t for me.” I’m kinda old school, I’m gonna find a way to talk to my fans. I still have fans, they might be on the older demographic, but I still have some fans out there that wanna talk to me and relate to me, so I’ll find a way to reach out to them. It just wasn’t for me though.
Dime: The NBA has changed so much since you first entered the league. What in your mind has changed the most?

EB: The spacing. I guess, visually it’s more appealing for the fans. There’s no more big guys just plowing in and posting up and beating each other up in the post and in the paint. I guess that’s not as appealing as guys dribbling, having room to create and shooting threes, things like that. When I first got into the league, it was packed with [PatrickEwing and [CharlesOakley, [AnthonyMason and P.J. Brown, Alonzo Mourning, Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone Hill and the Davis Brothers. You know what I mean, it was packed. Shaq was the most unstoppable force I had ever seen. You still got Shaq winning MVPs and all that when I first got in the league. There was Horace Grant, man the list goes on. Every team had seven-foot big guys that were centers. David Robinsonjust retired after winning the championship when I came in. Hakeem Olajuwon, he was at the end of the career but it was still him. That list of names, there were just big guys that played in the paint.
To be honest with you, if you were a big guys and shot threes, before Rasheed [Wallace] came, you were soft. But then Rasheed came and Dirkand other guys, they showed that you can be tough and still play. That was an advantage, but we were in the post strictly. So now, when I came in it was like alright, he’s an undersized power forward and I use to say “well those guys are oversized, because I can still do my thing.” Now, there are guys that are 6-6, 220 pounds playing power forward at times. The game has just changed, they love the whole small-ball thing. It’s changed a lot but it’s still fun and I think it looks good.
Dime: Is there any player that pops into your mind when you think about your toughest matchup?

EB: Of course, like Tim Duncan over the years. It was just that team in San Antonio. You know, I saw him when he was like 20 years old and he was still fundamentally sound. Now at 37 and 38, he’s still a solid player putting up solid numbers and helping his team win, so I’d have to say playing against them. But Shaq, Shaq! I got switched over to Shaq, because I didn’t play center much at all back then, but Shaq, that just wasn’t even fair. That guy was just incredible.
Dime: Any immediate plans after basketball?

EB: Not immediate, but my son, my son. My five-year-old, he loves basketball, he’s incredible. Today, he was playing the “shadow” game and I’m like “what team are you?” He says “I’m the Sacramento Kings” and I’m like “oh yeah, so who is on your team?” And he starts naming them, likeIsaiah Thomas and guys like that. That’s just incredible at five years old. Like one time I’m talking about Carmelo [Anthony] and I said that he was number eight. So, my son was like, “No dad, he’s number seven.” I was like, I have to look it up just to be sure, how does he know his number and I don’t? It’s ridiculous, he’s really into it. But I think eventually, I want to go into scouting and really learn the management side of it [the NBA]. You can’t just jump into that, but I like scouting. I played with a lot of talented streetball guys and guys that play overseas. They have talent and I think they can bring something to teams in the NBA, but they kind of don’t get that shot.
Dime: How do you want your career to be remembered when it’s all said and done?

EB: When Ray Allen hit that three last year [in the Finals], it really inspired me. Because if he misses that, who knows what happens with them? They might break up the team, or whatever. But him helpingLeBron [James], Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and those guys get another ring. You know, he [Ray Allen] said something like, “I’m still defining my career.” And that really stuck with me, because I know if I can go help a team win it, like I said the intangibles or whatever it takes. Get a rebound or a block, whatever it is, I do more of the dirty work now. If I can do that and help a team win or get over that hump, it’s like Elton Brand was a player that gave his all and gave what he had on that court and that’s how I want to be remembered.