Josh Powell: Exit Interview
With interviews from Shannon Brown and DJ Mbenga already posted, Josh Powell completes the trio of "nice, hardworking journeymen I'm extremely happy to see win a ring as a reward for fighting to remain in the NBA." Not that I'm "meh" towards Kobe or Fish getting sized for their fourth piece of bling, but it's especially rewarding when dudes who bust their butts just as hard to little fanfare (and even less job security) get a moment in history. As Powell made perfectly clear, he doesn't take these blessings for granted.
Powell first shared what he was told to work on over the summer. Pick and pop prowess. Improving an already solid jumper. Improving his ability to attack the rim after snagging an offensive board. JP expressed confidence that the organization wants to keep the squad intact, but admitted he doesn't know if that includes exercising a team option on him. If he's not back, however, it won't be the result of an attitude problem.
"They didn't give any promises or guarantees. They did say they appreciated my efforts this year. They thought that I came and worked hard every day, and that was a good thing. That was a plus. And I was consistent as far as that aspect."
When you've had to scratch, claw and bite your way just to remain in the NBA, it's tough to know exactly how to treat the unequivocally "good times," because you don't know how long they'll last. Not that Powell was anything less than thrilled at winning a championship, but his backstory (and I imagine, uncertain future) makes it difficult to wrap his head around the experience and celebration.
"That's another thing I said in the meeting. A lot of the media were like, 'Why don't you look as happy as some of these guys?' Everybody hasn't had to take the path that I've had to take. It's been a rough path. I've done NBDL. I've bounced around overseas. I've done everything. This has been a rough ride, but it's something that I'll never regret, because it's what drives me.
That's where I get my hunger from and my dedication from. It's definitely something that keeps me going. I've had my family to back me. I've got strong faith in God. With that in mind, that's what keeps me going every day. That's why I was just so quiet, because you just don't know how to take it or accept it. A lot of these guys were drafted, lottery picks or whatever their situation was. I was undrafted and had to really, really work to get to this point."
Powell talks about the three pointer he canned during Game 1 against Orlando, the first downtown bomb of his NBA career. Whether shots from beyond the far line become a consistent (or even requested) part of Powell's repertoire remains to be seen, but still, as Powell smiled, "You see I got a wet ball."
Also, we experienced some technical difficulties during Josh's interview, so everything wasn't caught on video. But here were some of the highlights...
Powell's rotational pecking order wasn't particularly desirable, in that PT was dictated more by situation than merit. For the most part, when injuries (Andrew Bynum) or suspensions (Lamar Odom) created opportunities, he generally responded with a good performance. Unfortunately, that showing was almost irrelevant. Drew, LO and Pau Gasol equaled few frontcourt minutes available for Powell, end of story. JP handled the situation like a pro, but that's not the same thing as "liking" it. I asked Powell how difficult this set up was for him.
"It's very tough because I think that any guy that is a true competitor, you want to be able to show what you've been working hard for during the summer and during the year. You want to be able to contribute to the team. But you gotta be positive about it. You gotta understand your role, understand your situation and make the most out of it."
Words for Sasha Vujacic to learn and live by, but that's for another exit interview post to come.
On the ability to be himself among his teammates
"I think this team, everyone was close and open with each other, so it felt like you had more of a family bond, so you were able to show more of your personality. It was just great working with these guys. Great with the coaches. The organization. It was just a wonderful experience."
On Phil Jackson
"He allows guys to be players on the court and allows them grow and learn on the court. He's not, I don't know if "strict" is the right word, but I mean, you're gonna definitely want to perform for him. But there have been times when I may have made two or three mistakes, and he left me in the game. I definitely told him I appreciate that. There are a lot of other situations where a coach's patience is a lot shorter. That's understanding (on his part) as well."
Previous Exit Interviews: