Mike Dunleavy: "My dad is my biggest fan"
You are turning into a leader of this team. Do you feel you just matured enough in this league to take this responsibility, or you still feel a lot of pressure in your new role?
Mike Dunleavy: I think I had some experience in the last five years in the league. As a leader, I really try to set the best example I possibly can. Coming each day, be professional, work real hard. Doing the right thing, giving my best, that is really all I can do.
How did the lost of Jermaine O’Neal for most of this season influence your game overall?
MD: I am trying as many learning experiences from this season as possible. It has certainly been a big blow not to have Jermaine, and also not to have Jamaal Tinsley for the second half of the season. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt and we need to make the most of it. I hope to, as I said, learn a lot from this experience and make myself and my team a better player in the future.
Even though your team has a losing record, you are still in the contention for a playoff spot in the East. How important would it be for your team to get to the playoffs this year comparing to perhaps going to the lottery and picking one or two solid prospects there?
MD: It would be huge, we are dying to get to the postseason. That would be a huge experience for all of us. We certainly don’t want to be a lottery team, we want to be in the playoffs and compete for the championships.
Being a Most Improved Player candidate, how do you look at that honor and what would that mean to you?
MD: That’s really not in my hands, that’s not up to me, really. Again, all I care about right now is getting us to the postseason, which would be quite an accomplishment, considering all we’ve been through lately.
MD: I don’t really think it is about the system, but about the fact that I get more opportunities here. Coach puts more balls in my hands and gives me a chance to do some stuff. I am grateful for that, and I am trying to make it work out for him and for our team.
How much do you talk to your dad about basketball?
MD: We talk a lot. I think he is my biggest fan, my biggest supporter. He’s always around to offer help, to give me advice. He’s done that all throughout my career, and I really appreciate that.
How does it feel to play for the playoffs in the East, whereas your dad’s Clippers with a similar record in the West are basically bottom feeders?
MD: You know what, that is how the cookie crumbles. We’ve been very unfortunate with the injuries this year. But we hung in there and I think it is a reward for us to play for the playoffs this late in the season. Hopefully, we can do that.
What kind of experience would possible playing against Boston in the first round of the playoffs bring to this team?
MD: I think it is a great experience just to get there, to play them in an elimination round, when anything can happen. That’s our goal, we want to reach the postseason anyway we can.
Tell me a bit about this place here. Reggie Miller played here his whole career, even though he was born and raised on the West Coast. You’ve been all around, Duke, the Bay Area, now here in Indianapolis. What is so special about this place and playing here in Indianapolis?
MD: It’s a nice city. I enjoy living here. We have a good fan base. People appreciate basketball and I am definitely happy to be a Pacer.
Nebojsa Petrovacki is the editor of Sportska Centrala, a sports news agency from Serbia
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