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Monday, November 02, 2009

The Unfinished Ronny Turiaf Interview

I have been fortunate enough to conduct my two dream basketball interviews--Julius Erving will always be my favorite all-time player and after Erving retired Scottie Pippen was my favorite player as a teenager/young adult (and Pippen remains my second favorite all-time player). I enjoy speaking with players and coaches directly and learning about the game from their perspectives without the filtering provided by the bias/ignorance of some of the people who frequently conduct such interviews.

Although I am quite familiar with Ronny Turiaf's inspiring comeback from a serious heart condition and I respect the way that he has made himself into an excellent role player, I have never interviewed him and, truth be told, interviewing him was not on my "to do list"--but when his publicist Roxanne Romero contacted me this summer and said that she could set up an interview with Turiaf, I told her to go ahead and do it. Then she replied that since Turiaf was out of the country at the time it would work out better if I simply emailed my questions to her and then she would pass them along to Turiaf. Here are the questions that I sent:

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.

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.

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 ?

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.?

5) What are some of the similarities and differences between Phil Jackson and Don Nelson as coaches?

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.

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?

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?

Nearly a month passed without a reply from Romero or Turiaf, so I sent an email to Romero to find out what was taking so long. She said that Turiaf's schedule had been "insane" and that he would not be able to answer until mid-September (two months after Romero initially contacted me). September passed and I did not hear from Romero or Turiaf, so I emailed Romero again. This time she said that Turiaf had not done a single interview since she had first reached out to me and that he likely would not respond to my questions.

The whole situation is both amusing--conjuring up images of an overbooked Turiaf fighting off media hordes who are ignoring Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in order to besiege him with questions--and pathetic. Is Ronny Turiaf really so busy that he cannot answer a few questions? If so, why is his representative soliciting interviews on his behalf? Does Turiaf understand that when he hires people who are incompetent and/or inconsiderate ultimately this reflects badly on him?

Why bother to even make a post about this? Simple--I no longer have any patience to deal with people who are too ignorant and/or too inconsiderate to do their jobs properly; on several occasions I have tried to work with and/or help such people only to receive unprofessional--and sometimes even vicious--responses. Perhaps such people mistake kindness for weakness but I'm not having any more of such nonsense. I am not seeking out such people or looking for trouble but if they waste my time then I certainly will let the whole world know how they conduct their business, so that intelligent, professional people know who to avoid.

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posted by David Friedman @ 12:15 AM



At Monday, November 02, 2009 9:34:00 AM, Blogger madnice said...

i dont see why you would want to interview him anyway. i see the reasons after you explained it. how hard is it to answer a few questions? maybe 10 minutes. hes not even an average nba player.

At Monday, November 02, 2009 4:13:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I did not seek out the opportunity to interview Turiaf but when Romero reached out to me I figured it might be nice to run a brief Q&A with Turiaf; I never imagined that I would just end up wasting my time formulating questions only to get the run around from Romero and Turiaf.

At Tuesday, November 03, 2009 7:18:00 PM, Blogger Bhel Atlantic said...

Ouch. Certainly, it sounds like Romero acted in a low-class manner. However, what do you gain by publicly calling her out like this? Feuds of this nature do not reflect well on any party.

At Wednesday, November 04, 2009 5:18:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Bhel Atlantic:

I am not "feuding" with anyone. I treat people respectfully but I won't let anyone disrespect me--and I will write the truth no matter who it discomforts. There are a lot of fake people in this business and there are a lot of people who are incompetent and I will always call out such people whenever I encounter them.


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