Ronny Turiaf InterviewI recently wrote about my frustrating experience with an Unfinished Ronny Turiaf Interview. I am happy to report that in response to that post Danika Berry informed me that Roxanne Romero no longer is Turiaf's representative, that Turiaf was not aware of the questions that I submitted, that he never turns down an interview request and that he is happy to answer my questions. I would like to thank Ronny Turiaf and Danika Berry for making this interview possible.
Here are the questions that I originally sent to Turiaf (in italics), followed by his answers as emailed to me by Danika Berry:
1. Your comeback from open heart surgery to not only be fully healthy but also to be a productive NBA player has inspired many people. Describe what you are trying to accomplish with your Ronny Turiaf Heart to Heart Foundation.
a. What I’d like to accomplish is simple: create awareness of heart health. I had no idea that my heart was not healthy. I had no clue. And it is really a stroke of luck, being in the right place at the right time, that we discovered through an echocardiogram that I had an enlarged aortic root—a life threatening disease. I was on top of the world, when I signed with the Lakers; physically I couldn’t have been better. I had absolutely no worries as I went from one medical exam to another. How many people, kids, do you think are in that position right now, but do not have access to the medical interventions of detection? This important exam changed my life. So what I’d like to accomplish with this partnership between the ASE Foundation and the Heart 2 Heart Foundation, is to educate the health industry and the general public on the your heart. Early detection is the key.
2. You started 21 games for the Lakers team that advanced to the Finals in 2008 and then you signed with Golden State for the 2009 season. When the Lakers won the 2009 championship you must have felt a combination of happiness for your ex-teammates but also perhaps some jealousy--or at least wistfulness--that you could have been a part of that. Describe how you felt about the Lakers winning the title.
a. It’s hard to describe the bond, respect and love I have for that Lakers team. It’s like when your brother does something really great. You were there, you saw the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication—How can you be jealous? —You love him, and you are proud and happy for him. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved to have been there, but there is a reason for everything. And what I received as a result of playing for the Lakers organization and with those guys—I give them nothing but the props they deserve. And don’t worry, I definitely see rings in my future (big smile).
3. Team captains generally are full-time starters who play heavy minutes but Don Nelson selected you as a Golden State captain even though you do not rank on the top five on the Warriors in minutes played, which indicates that both Nelson and your teammates highly respect you. How did your experiences as a Laker and as a member of the French National Team prepare you for your leadership role with Golden State?
a. I definitely appreciate that Coach sees some type of leadership in me and I feel proud and honored about being chosen to be one of the captains. My father always says, “Leaders aren’t born, they are made--Life’s trials and triumphs, your past and your present rolled into one is what make you special and gifted—and with that comes responsibility. ” WE work hard on the French National team. We’re these young guys who all grew up together and worked hard. We keep giving them hell every year, and we are determined to win, and if we don’t-- it was just great fun to be there—giving all you got. What people talk about is my enthusiasm. I am grateful for the incredible opportunities I have had so far. Basketball--I love the life I have been given (again). And what has prepared me for my leadership role is never forgetting that this is a privilege, an opportunity that comes to but a few. Man, don’t take a second of it for granted and share—make the journey better for some one else along the way. Love what you do, do it to the best of your ability, and things always work out.
4. You ranked fourth in the NBA in blocks per game and third in total blocked shots in 2009. The Warriors are not known as a defensive-minded team but you clearly place an emphasis on that aspect of the game. How is the mindset of a championship team like the Lakers different from the mindset of a younger team like the Warriors that is just fighting to get into the playoffs, particularly in terms of the less glamorous aspects of the game like defense, rebounding, setting screens, etc.?
a. The only difference is in the discipline or the patience necessary to get there. Every game counts: every block, every rebound--every night. Gotta keep your eyes on the prize, baby—every game, every day. And the Lakers have had practice at this mentality. Hey, we are the “warriors,” so we can do it, and we will. Youth, discipline, and focus—we’ve got it all.
5. What are some of the similarities and differences between Phil Jackson and Don Nelson as coaches?
a. Both coaches want the “W.” While one may be holistic, and another is player-by-player, moment-by-moment; both coaches want the win, and give you every opportunity to do what you do best.
6. Kobe Bryant inspires a lot of strong responses from the media and fans. You were his teammate for the first three seasons of your NBA career. Describe Kobe’s leadership style as you experienced it as a young player.
a. He’s just an inspiration to be around –on and off the court. His leadership style is one of modeling—no one works harder. No one practices harder. All you have to do is watch him, and do what he does to prepare and maintain his game—I couldn’t help but get better as I matured as a player around him—who couldn’t?
7. Some members of the media claim that Kobe has changed or evolved but would it be more accurate to say that in the past couple years he simply has been surrounded by better talent and that the newer players respond more positively to how Kobe interacts with them?
a. We’re all changing, man. Life is never just one thing or another. It’s normally a combination of many things—and it’s all good.
8. Everyone likes to compare Kobe and LeBron. You have played with and against Kobe and played against LeBron; as someone who has actually been on the court with both players, how would you compare them in terms of their skill sets and the ways that they impact the game offensively and defensively?
a. You can’t compare the two players. Kobe is simply the best player on the planet! LeBron is trying to get there with his body, his game, his style and his arsenal—and he will. But Kobe will still have been there first. Both LeBron and Kobe as players and you all in the media comparing the two--make the game of basketball the greatest game there is.
posted by David Friedman @ 7:47 PM