Q&A: Gary Neal

Posted by Unknown on Sunday, March 15, 2015 with No comments
Courtesy of Jeff McDonald

Q: You’ve played with both Tim Duncan and now Kevin Garnett. Do those guys share the same passion?
Neal: “They just show it differently. They have different makeups. As you can see, they’ve been successful being that way and competing that way.”
Q: Is Duncan just the type who burns inside a little more? 
Neal: “He’s been a little more open with it than a lot of people are giving them credit for lately, because I think he’s starting to realize, as you get older you start to think, ‘this might be my last year, this might be my last run.’ He’s been a little more emotional, from what I’ve seen. They both have that fire in their bellies, it just comes out differently.”
Q: Surprised at the trade from Charlotte? 
Neal: “No I wasn’t surprised. I knew somebody had to get traded, because Charlotte is in the playoff race and with Kemba going down for so long, we only had one point guard in Brian Roberts. I knew a move had to get made. When you can score in bunches, you’re always in trade talks. So it was me.”
Q: Minnesota is your third team in less than two seasons after leaving the Spurs. How tough is that adjustment? 
Neal: “It’s been hard on the family. because you’ve got to uproot the family and you’ve got to move and you’re living in a hotel and stuff like that. That’s been the hardest part. Basketball-wise, it’s all the same. Pick and rolls, pin downs. Nothing changes basketball-wise, if you’ve played enough of it. The hardest part has been with the family. This is going to be the first time I’ve seen my kids since the trade. It’s been a month. That’s the hardest part.”
Q: But that’s kind of the NBA, right? Not everybody can be Tim Duncan.
Neal: “To be honest, if you’re not a franchise guy … you look at everybody who’s been in the league for an extended period of time, they’ve played for four, five, six teams. That’s the way the NBA is. Everybody’s not blessed enough to be Tim, Manu and Tony. You’ve got to go where the checks are.”
Q: Is your family here tonight? 
Neal: “Yeah, they’ll be at the game tonight. They’re staying overnight.”
Q: Who is your son rooting for? (This question was actually posed by Nikola Pekovic, sitting one locker stall to Gary’s right) 
Neal: “My son said he’s cheering for Daddy, but he wants San Antonio to win. I’m like, we’ve got to re-evaluate this.”
Q: How old is he?
Neal: “He’s three. He was here at the Finals. I think he was like 11 months then. Don’t quote me on the math.”
Q: Take me back to your free-agent summer of 2013 and how that went down with leaving the Spurs? 
Neal: “It was a situation where, I’d just seen DeJuan (Blair) go through a situation of kind of being demoted — him playing the games and being a starter, playing in the rookie-sophomore game, and then all of a sudden he was out of the rotation. Me being an older guy, getting a late start, that was kind of on my mind. The Spurs had offered me and Tiago (Splitter) the qualifying offer at the same time. My agent was kind of going back and forth with them, with the qualifying offer only being like a million dollars (it was $1.1 million), could you kind of let Gary just, you know, go make some money? That was in the works like a week after the Finals was over. They took the qualifying offer off the table after three or four weeks. So I went to Milwaukee.”
Q: Still feel like it’s the right decision? You did miss a chance at a championship last season.
Neal: “At the end of the day, unless you’re Tim Duncan or a LeBron James or a Kevin Garnett, you’re not really going to have a legacy. I’m not going to be a Hall of Fame player or anything like that. At the end of the day, my job as a man is to put my family in a situation where they can be as comfortable as possible. That was the decision I made. To this day I don’t regret the decision, I would make the same decision 100 times over.”
Q: Do you still remember the Game 5 shot against Memphis in 2011 when you walk in this building? 
Neal: “Oh yeah, yeah. That was a good moment. What’s so crazy about that, I actually had the flu. I wasn’t supposed to play that game. I missed shootaround that morning and went and got IVs. Pop threw me in there and gave me an opportunity and I made it. A rookie with the flu.”
Q: Is this still a comfortable place to come back to for you? 
Neal: “I’ve always been knowing people here, the staff and stuff like that. I’ve always been embraced. I look forward to coming back. Just like I said, this is where I got my start. This is where I got my NBA dream. From summer league to the shot against Memphis, to winning 18 straight my second year going into the playoffs (it was actually 10, extended to 20 to start the playoffs), thinking we had OKC, up 2-0. Just a lot of memories here, man. I’m always excited to come back here. Maybe one time I might beat these guys. Maybe one time.”