Boris Diaw: "Amare didn't mess up anything"
Your first two years in the NBA were with the Atlanta Hawks. You played few minutes and had very few opportunities to show your talent. Back then, were you regretting coming to NBA and were you thinking of going back to Europe?
Boris Diaw: I knew that I had at least one or two more years in the NBA because of the contract. So no, I was not thinking of going back. My focus was on the NBA.
When you heard that you were traded from the Hawks to the Suns, what was your reaction? Were you excited, concerned?
BD: I was very excited. It was going to be a new challenge for me. I was coming from the last team in the league to the team with one of the best regular-season records in the league. I was all about excitement, looking forward to the challenge.
When they brought you to Phoenix, the coaching staff had ideas of playing you at the 1 and 2.
BD: It was the 1 actually…
Then you ended up playing most games at the 4 and 5. Were you surprised with this opportunity? Were you aware before of your ability to play those positions?
BD: I don’t know. I am always ready to play anything you ask me to play (laughs). That’s what I have always been doing. Just ask me, and I will try to do it.
So you played at the 4 and 5 in your career before this season?
BD: Not really. Only in spurts, when that was needed by my teams.
How do you explain your ability to successfully play those positions?
BD: I think it is a bit because of the versatility and the fact that I try to do different things on the court regardless of the position in which I am playing.
The Suns record during the regular season was very good, regardless of the fact that everyone expected Suns to play below last season’s level due to Amare Stoudemire’s injury…
BD: Yes, because Amare went down everyone said that the team was not going to be able to have a good regular season. I am really glad that they were wrong.
Were you glad to see Amare back in the team lineup for a few games in March?
BD: Yes, we were very happy to see him on the court. And we were very sad to see him go down again because of his knee. We look forward to having him back next season.
Some people wrote that his presence messed up the team’s chemistry a bit...
BD: I don’t think so. When somebody new comes to the team, you always have to adapt a little bit and learn how to play with him. The only guys who played with Amare before were Leandro (Barbosa), Steve (Nash) and Shawn (Marion). Nobody else on the team knew him on the court and how to play with him. The same thing happened with Tim Thomas when he came to the team. We had to learn how to adapt and play with him. So Amare did not mess up anything, we just needed some time to adapt and learn how to play with him.
Do you think that it was a good decision to sit Amare out for the rest of the season?
BD: It was a normal decision since he could not play at the 100 percent of his capacity.
You mentioned Tim Thomas. He was waived and had no team. Then the Suns picked him up and now he is in the starting lineup in the playoffs. How big was the fact that the Suns signed him?
BD: That was very good. The coaching staff and the front office decided to pick him up and that was a great decision because he is obviously very valuable for us.
How well does the Suns’ lineup fit your style of play?
BD: It is very easy to play with the players on the Suns’ roster. They are all excellent shooters. All you have to do is see them when they are open and pass the ball to them. Most of the times they are able to make the shot.
You are definitely the top candidate for the Most Improved Player of the Year award. How much do you think that you actually improved and how much do you think it is all just that you got the opportunity to play this season and show the league what you know?
BD: I don’t know. Probably a little bit of both. I probably improved my game during those two years in Atlanta. I just didn’t get the opportunity to play and show it. I think that it is the mixture of both.
How do you like the Suns’ matchup with the Lakers’ in the first round of the playoffs?
BD: It is a good matchup. Lakers are a team that we beat during the regular season and a team that we know pretty well. So it is a good matchup for us.
Do you think it is the time for an offensive-minded team to have a shot at the championship? The last two years it was the Spurs and the Pistons winning the title. Do you think the Suns have enough offensive firepower to battle those two teams?
BD: Yes, sure. If we have good nights and just play good, we can beat anybody in the regular season or the playoffs.
Who is the MVP of the regular season: Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash or someone else?
BD: Steve Nash, definitely.
Senad Mustafic is a Phoenix correspondent of Sportska Centrala, sports news agency from Serbia